The opportunity for a better life spurred on those who first turned over the prairie sod here and the many immigrants who came later via long voyages from Europe. All realized that education would play a significant role in that better life and quickly built schools that have evolved from small, one-room structures with one teacher and multiple grades to today's state-of-the-art facilities and teachers who specialize in individual subject areas. Atkinson is part of Community School District #228 which serves almost 3,000 students in three elementary schools, one middle school, and a high school. The district's mission statement is to provide "an educational environment in which all students become responsible citizens who are knowledgeable, thinking, self-motivated life-long learners."

District elementary schools offer a wide range of core and extracurricular opportunities for all students, while middle-school students grow both academically and socially via character building activities and innovative exploratory themed classes.

At the high-school level, the academic curriculum features access to a collaborative program between the high school and the local community college; a majority of the district's high school graduates go on for further education.

Successful learning for students of all abilities is a priority. Special education services are provided to students Pre-K-12, including a program for children as young as three years of age. Students looking for more in-depth and challenging coursework can turn to Black Hawk College's Advanced Placement courses in a variety of disciplines.

In addition to these outstanding academic programs students can participate in clubs, organizations and extracurricular activities such as music, art, theater and sports. Individuals with physical and developmental challenges will find training, employment programs and sheltered housing available at Abilities Plus, Inc., headquartered in Kewanee, and serving individuals from Atkinson and elsewhere in Henry County. Family support services help families to help their child or adult family member with a disability to live and work as independently as possible and achieve success.

Black Hawk College is often the first step on the road to higher education for many local high school graduates, for working adults wanting/needing to sharpen their skills, or for the lifelong learner yearning for a new challenge. Each year, the comprehensive community college serves more than 11,000 college-credit students, 3,000 Adult Basic Education students, and 16,000 Continuing Education and Workforce Training adults with high quality, cost-effective learning opportunities.

Dual campuses - Moline and Kewanee offer excellent facilities, small-class sizes, and individual attention for students in pursuit of college credit for careers or transfer to a four year college. Additional options include, but are not limited to, workforce training, GED prep, literacy programs, hobby and leisure classes. The college also oversees regular office campus college credit courses, continuing education and skill development classes.

Several public and private universities also are nearby and Illinois' flagship, the University of Illinois, is just a few hours away in Champaign.