Media Releases

North Central College announced partnership with Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools

Feb 07, 2023

Expanding outreach for its Master of Education in Educational Leadership program and Character Education Certificate

North Central College’s School of Education and Health Sciences and the School of Graduate and Professional Studies have launched a new partnership with the Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools (AIRSS) to support educators across Illinois. The partnership enables North Central to expand its outreach for the Master of Education in Educational Leadership degree program and Character Education Certificate program to AIRSS members. 

AIRSS was chartered in 1987 and is the only statewide organization that helps to promote and enhance education excellence in rural and small schools in every community and location of Illinois.

North Central College is committed to inspiring well-equipped, principled, responsible educators and leaders. Through a $3.2 million grant—the College’s largest ever private grant—North Central has launched several unique initiatives focused on social, emotional and ethical competencies. What makes North Central distinctive is a dedication to foster and nurture cultures of character across all school systems served by the College.

“This partnership comes at a key juncture for the College’s outreach and recruitment efforts,” said Abiódún Gòkè-Pariolá, provost and vice president for academic affairs at North Central College. “The new online delivery format of our Character Certificate program and our Educational Leadership degree program means we are now able to deliver character-infused preparation for teachers and aspiring leaders in rural communities across Illinois.”

“We value the opportunity to work with North Central and especially their Cultures of Character Project,” said Dave Ardrey, executive director of AIRSS and president of the National Rural Education Association. “This partnership will provide new avenues of professional development and will provide a tangible tuition benefit for rural educators who work for AIRSS member school districts.”

Dr. Bruce Spitzer, professor of education and chair of the department of education at North Central, recognizes the power of working with the Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools, “We are so proud to be actively engaged with this well-respected organization. We look forward to opportunities ahead that will allow us to share resources, explore new ideas and address educational challenges to improve teaching and learning in the rural communities.”

For more information about the College’s character initiatives visit: