"We chose Innovation Central because of the multiple college-career pathways."

What parent doesn’t dream about their child waking up every morning excited to go to school? For Scott and Suzanne Schulz, that dream has become a reality.

Their son Jacob, a freshman at Innovation Central, said, “It’s not like any other school I’ve been to. I usually don’t like school, but going to Innovation Central, I actually enjoy going there and I look forward to school every day.”

Innovation Central is unique because it is made up of four distinct college/career preparatory academies within one building:

  • Academy of Modern Engineering;
  • Academy of Business, Leadership & Entrepreneurship;
  • Academy of Design & Construction; and
  • Academy of Health Science & Technology.

As a freshman, Jacob is taking classes to help him decide which academy he wants to join. By allowing students to experience each academy, they are more likely to choose a program that really fits their unique interests, which results in more engaged and successful students. Jacob explains that it also helps students get to know each other and build friendships. Even after students join an academy, they take some of their core classes with students from the other academies, which keeps students connected to one another regardless of which program they chose.

The combination of strong academics and career preparation is appealing to Scott and Suzanne. Suzanne said, “At Innovation Central, you’re learning all of the basics that are absolutely critical that you would expect to see in a liberal arts college. From a strong English focus, to math and science, and the different opportunities to have perspectives across disciplines, whether it’s business or construction, to be able to look at real world situations, and the mentorship that is offered through the whole school to encourage kids, really provides a diverse education for them in a way that I don’t think is typical in other high schools.”

Scott adds, “Innovation Central is something that we looked at for Jacob because it lined up a little more with his actual career that he would be going into in college, so that he would actually be more ready for his program when he was able to go into whatever college he selects in the future.”

Jacob likes the career focus, too. He said, “We get to go on tons of field trips to different companies to test out or look at people that are working there, hear what they think about their job and what they do… In our junior and senior year, we get to take internships for whichever academy we choose, if we want to. We get to go to a company and work with them and learn what they do on a daily basis.”

Scott, Suzanne, and Jacob agree that the opportunity for extracurricular activities is also a draw. Jacob participates in robotics club, weightlifting, and basketball. The robotics team competes against other teams, so Jacob is learning practical STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills, as well as teamwork. He said, “Every year they give us a game, and we have to design and construct a robot to fit that game and make it function so that we can achieve it.”

Another unique aspect of Innovation Central is the strong partnerships with colleges, universities, businesses, and non-profits. Suzanne explains how the partnerships factored into their decision, “We’re passionate about being in the city, too. It’s really, I think, part of our commitment to being here but then also the opportunities that are afforded to the kids that attend GRPS through the different corporate sponsors that are engaged, everything from Spectrum Health to Amway to Rockford Construction. They really want the kids to learn and succeed. So you really feel this whole sense of a community surrounding these kids and wanting to really see them do well.”

That community includes a dynamic staff and principal, as well. Suzanne said, “The principal was very enthusiastic. The teachers are just so passionate about what they do, and it really comes through when you tour the school, when you speak with them, they really love what they do and want the kids to learn.”

Jacob agrees, “I like the teachers and principal a lot. They communicate really well with us. They try and help us as much as they can.” He continues, “If you’re doing really good in their class, they’ll try and challenge you more. They want to challenge you and try and get you to higher classes, so you can do college classes and get college credit.”

Parents are an important part of the Innovation Central community, too. Suzanne said, “We just attended honors night, where they had dinner and a speaker for the kids who are making honors programs, but they also do try to engage families. They really have a high expectation for parental involvement.”


Act now! Apply today! Seats for theme schools and Centers of Innovation are limited and an application is required. Apply online at apply.grps.org, or visit any GRPS school or the Administration Building at 1331 Franklin St SE for a paper application.