On February 2, 2011, U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, delivered prepared remarks at the release of the “Pathways to Prosperity” report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education Pathways to Prosperity Project.
In his The New Career and Technical Education speech, Sec. Duncan said CTE has long been marked by inequality, limited opportunity, a lack of corporate partnerships, weak academic programs, and poor facilities. As a former social studies instructor, I would be remiss to not examine Secretary Duncan’s words in the context of where the Bergen County Technical High School–Teterboro (BCTHS–Teterboro) stands today.
In the not-so-distant past, our school operated as the Bergen County Vocational Schools–Teterboro and the Bergen County Vocational School–Teterboro–Special Needs, a home to two separate and distinct programs. As described in the 2000-2001 Middle States report, “The student population in the past has typically included those students whose strengths and/or educational priorities have not been in the area of academics. Rather, students came to the school seeking preparation for trades in numerous vocational areas, including plumbing, masonry, landscaping, landscape design, cosmetology, electrical technology, electronics, truck/diesel repair, auto body, welding and skin care.”
Recognizing that our future demanded more, the Bergen County Technical Schools District and BCTHS–Teterboro committed itself to “Revolutionizing the Balance Between Tradition, Innovation, and Change” fifteen years ago.
Long before the mandates of No Child Left Behind, BCTHS–Teterboro embraced excellence, equity, achievement, and accountability – a decision that allowed our school to revolutionize the balance between tradition, innovation, and change. On Friday, September 7, 2012, BCTHS–Teterboro was named a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education based on sustained high achievement. The award was a validation of a commitment to collaboration, relentless pursuit of excellence, and progressive thinking.
During the announcement, Secretary Duncan, eloquently stated, “Great schools don’t happen by chance. Great schools happen by design.” This achievement would not have been possible without the hard work and design of previous administrations, dedicated faculty, committed student body, exceptional parents, district leadership, private sector partnerships, Bergen County sending districts, our Board of Education, and local elected officials. They are all threads of fabric woven to make our school blue!
Each September, our school comes together to renew a collective mission: the commitment to the development of all of our students. Our educational program provides opportunity for students to develop and achieve goals, pursue academic excellence, and continue their growth as productive members of society. Since our evolution began, our successes have been as diverse as the student body. Examination of BCTHS–Teterboro data consistently demonstrates one central theme: there isn’t, nor should there be, an achievement gap. Our community doesn’t tolerate nor embrace excuses; our community embraces solutions.
On behalf of the entire BCTHS–Teterboro community, I am honored that our school was selected as a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School. Congratulations to the five other county vocational-technical high schools in New Jersey who were also honored with the National Blue Ribbon designation for 2012!