Two members of the State Board of Education went back to high school last month, spending a morning with students and staff at the Morris County School of Technology in Denville.
Claire Chamberlain of Somerset County and J. Peter Simon of Morris County got a firsthand look at how career and technical education programs enhance the high school experience.
Morris County School of Technology offers nine full-time, four-year career academies that integrate rigorous academic courses with hands-on career-focused learning. Academy students have the option to take their senior year courses at County College of Morris, earning college credits as part of their high school program.
The district also offers 14 shared-time programs for juniors and seniors who attend their local high school for half of the day and spend the other half-day at the county vocational-technical school. The shared-time programs include several that are geared toward students with special needs.
After participating with Academy for Health Care Science freshmen in web-based virtual heart surgery, the State Board members joined culinary students in rolling sushi and sampling student-prepared soups and biscuits.
They talked with students in the veterinary science laboratory, learning about their research and experiments with mice and tree frogs, and their responsibilities for caring for reptiles, rabbits, fish, and birds. The seniors spoke enthusiastically about their hands-on experiences, and the advanced preparation that secured them acceptances to prestigious university programs for animal science.
Other highlights of the visit by Ms. Chamberlain and Mr. Simon were meeting students in the school’s Retail/Supermarket, visiting the preschool that is the centerpiece of the Academy for Child Related Careers, and seeing the shared-time welding and auto collision repair shops.
The State Board members wrapped up their morning by discussing state policy issues related to career and technical education with the district staff.
The diversity of program offerings at Morris County School of Technology gave the State Board of Education members a good overview of how today’s career and technical education programs prepare students for success in college and careers. It’s hard to say who enjoyed the visit more — the guests and or the district hosts.
Scott Moffitt is the Superintendent of the Morris County School of Technology.