Religious education ...

Enforces the same morals, values and faith as taught at home.

Is smaller and offers an everybody-knows-everybody setting.

Joins faith with learning.

Religious education ...

Enforces the same morals, values and faith as taught at home.

Is smaller and offers an everybody-knows-everybody setting.

Joins faith with learning.

The above statements came after interviewing four women of differing faiths who chose to send their children to Rock River Valley religious schools. These moms, along with their husbands, also have made sacrifices to send their kids to private schools.

A religious school can cost thousands of dollars a year per child. There’s often no busing, and special education isn’t always available.

But the moms said the pros of religious education outweigh the cons.

“They are at school all day,” said Sandy Dingus, whose son, Erik, will be a third-grader at Rockford Christian this fall. “Why should they be getting a different message at school than what you are giving at home and church?”

Dingus toured several religious schools before choosing Rockford Christian, which isn’t far from Skyward Promotions, the family business she runs with her husband, Tim. The family lives in Roscoe and belongs to Poplar Grove United Methodist.

Like Dingus, Glenda Sockwell of Rockford sat in classrooms watching how teachers interacted with students before settling on Christian Life Schools.

“I liked the idea that they taught the Bible in a nondenominational way. They didn’t favor Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist or Catholic” teachings, Sockwell said.

Sockwell and her husband, Craig, attend Pilgrim Baptist Church with their three daughters, Paige, Courtney and Brittney. The girls have gone to Christian Life Schools since prekindergarten. Courtney, who has a learning disability, will transfer this fall to Brookview Elementary School. There, two full-time special-ed teachers will work with her.

“Pulling her out was heart-wrenching, but we had to do what was right for Courtney,” Sockwell said.

Huda and Mustafa Ghazal moved here in 1998 because Rockford has a Muslim school, which happened to open the same year.

“For me, you can’t separate education from religion,” Huda said. “I wanted my children to learn the good values that our religion states and make that part of their daily lives.”

The Ghazals’ four children, who range in age from 4 to 14, attend Iqra School in southeast Rockford. Eman will be a freshman; Abrar is entering the fifth grade; Muhammed is starting third grade; and Hibah will be a kindergartner this fall.

It was important, too, to Ghazal that her children would be allowed to pray while at school. Islam requires that children pray five times a day once they reach puberty.

“I know there are kids who do it at the public schools, and the schools make all the accommodations they can. It’s difficult because that one child is by himself. At Iqra, our children pray together. It builds unity and their spirits.”

It made sense for Jodi Rippon, a lifelong Belvidere resident, to send her two daughters to St. James Catholic School in the city of 23,500 people. Rippon has been a member of St. James Church since birth. Kayla, 12, will be a sixth-grader, and Courtney, 8, starts second grade this fall.

“It’s a way of life for me,” she said. “I am vested. You can’t beat the private-school atmosphere, where everyone’s family knows everyone’s family and looks out for everyone.”

Anna Voelker is online editor for Rockford Woman and would love suggestions for this column. E-mail ideas to avoelker@rockfordwoman.com.