Two new schools, seven new career academies, and expanded programs, course options, initiatives and opportunities to pursue career goals will be available to the more than 32,000 students at New Jersey’s 21 county vocational-technical school districts as they begin the 2016-2017 school year.
“Our schools are constantly evolving to meet industry needs and student and parent demand, and 2016-2017 promises to be a very exciting year in that process,” said Timothy McCorkell, president of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools and superintendent of the Monmouth County Vocational School District.
Here are some of the exciting new opportunities available this year:
Cumberland County Technical Education Center has opened the county’s first four-year full-time vocational-technical high school in a new building adjacent to the campus of Cumberland County College in Vineland.
The new school and building are the culmination of efforts that began in 2000. Until this year, CCTEC operated a shared-time vocational-technical high school system in which students attended their local high schools for half of the day, and travelled to the county vocational-technical school for half-day career programs in grades 11 and 12.
Cumberland follows many other county vocational-technical school districts in making the transition to full-time programs that incorporate academic and technical learning.
Along with a rigorous academic curriculum, career and technical education programs offered include allied health sciences, sports medicine, digital graphics, dental technology, construction trades, pharmacy technology, culinary arts, cosmetology, law enforcement and homeland security, welding, automotive technology, engineering, studio production and broadcasting.
The freshman class includes 241 students; additional freshman cohorts will be added in each of the next three years. The school will also offer adult programs.
Union County Vocational & Technical Schools has opened a sixth high school to serve shared-time students and students in the transition program.
Union County Career and Technical Institute (UCCTI) will be located in existing facilities on district’s Scotch Plains campus. In the past, shared-time students attended Union County Tech, which also served full-time students; UC Tech will now become an exclusively full-time high school.
NEW CAREER ACADEMIES
Programs in aviation, biomedical sciences, culinary arts, manufacturing, environmental sciences and engineering are among the new career academies opening this year.
The new career academies in Somerset, Morris, Hunterdon, Atlantic and Monmouth counties are funded by $3 million in state grants approved by the Legislature and the Governor to expand high school career and technical education opportunities through partnerships with local high schools, businesses and New Jersey colleges.
Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School (SCVTHS) has launched a program in mechatronics, engineering and advanced manufacturing (MEAM), in partnership with Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) and local businesses.
The 20 students enrolled in this year’s freshman class will learn how to apply mathematical and scientific principles to the design, development and operational evaluation of the technical and physical systems used in 21st century manufacturing. Additional cohorts of students will be added over the next three years.
Students will receive industry certifications and a minimum of 13 college credits from RVCC, compete in local, state and national competitions, and participate in a robotics club. Upon graduation, they will be ready to enter the workforce as qualified technicians or pursue postsecondary education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.
This is Somerset’s second full-time career academy created in partnership with RVCC. The Academy for Health and Medical Sciences (AHMS) opened in 2006; students in that program can earn an associates’ degree from RVCC along with their high school diploma.
Monmouth County Vocational School District and the Asbury Park School District have partnered with Brookdale Community College and Kean University to create a STEM Engineering Academy for students at Asbury Park High School.
Established as a “school within a school,” the academy will use the nationally-recognized “Project Lead the Way” (PTLW) curriculum to prepare students for careers in civil engineering, architecture, computer science, and software engineering.
The 40 freshman and sophomore students in the program will take all of their academic and career and technical education courses together as a group. They will be taught by a team of math, science, and PLTW instructors, and assisted by guidance counselors and support staff. In each subsequent year, 20 new freshmen will join the program.
The Academy for Environmental Science is a new four-year, full-time high school program offered through a partnership between the Morris County Vocational School District (MCVSD) and Jefferson Township High School (JTHS), where the program will be located. The program is open to students throughout Morris County.
Students will study the complex interrelationships between the environment and human population in order to prepare for further studies and careers in the wide field of environmental research, policy, compliance, design and law.
Program partners include the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, the Rockaway River Watershed Cabinet, Jefferson Township, Kean University’s Center for Sustainability Science and a local law firm specializing in environmental issues. These partnerships will allow students to conduct field research in local facilities and assist organizations currently monitoring local environmental systems.
Kean University is developing a new campus near JTHS, and students will be able to take college courses there for dual credit, along with summer programs offered by the NJ School of Conservation and Kean. The program will also feature a 160-hour internship requirement during the 12th grade year.
Hunterdon County Vocational School District (HCVSD) has partnered with North Hunterdon High School (NHHS) to launch a four-year Biomedical Sciences Academy (BSA) at the high school.
The 20 incoming freshmen from throughout Hunterdon County, and subsequent classes of students, will be exposed to almost 100 different careers in the medical field during their four years in high school. They will also be able to earn college credits through the academy’s agreements with Raritan Valley Community College and Rutgers School of Health Related Professions.
This is the second full-time career academy established by HCVSD as a “school within a school” with a local high school district. The Computer Science and Software Engineering Academy, a partnership between HCVSD and Delaware Valley Regional High School in Frenchtown, was launched in 2015.
Atlantic County Institute of Technology (ACIT) will begin preparing high school students for careers in aviation through the Academy of Aviation Studies, to be located on the Mays Landing campus of Atlantic Cape Community College (ACCC).
Partners include the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) William J. Hughes Technical Center, Atlantic City International Airport, and the Stockton University Aviation Research and Technology Park (ARTP).
Twenty freshmen are enrolled in the new career academy. Courses will include aviation studies, aviation weather, ground school, air traffic control and unmanned aerial systems. Students will complete their required high school courses while earning college credits leading to an associate’s degree in Aviation Studies from ACCC.
Students will also be connected to their classmates on the ACIT campus through participation in ACIT clubs, athletics and extracurricular activities.
In response to the high demand for its shared-time culinary arts program, Mercer County Technical School District (MCTS) is opening a full-time, four-year Academy of Culinary Arts at the district’s Sypek Center in Pennington.
In addition to culinary training and a challenging and rigorous academic curriculum, Academy students will be able to earn industry credentials and college credits from Mercer County Community College (MCC).
During their senior year, all students will take college-level classes and spend their entire school day on the MCC West Windsor campus. They will also have multiple opportunities for internships with local businesses.
The Academy of Culinary arts is the third full-time, four-year high school program to be offered by MCTS. The Health Sciences Academy opened in 2010, and the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Academy opened last year.
Responding to the many recent changes in the construction industry and the district’s addition of a “Green” Program of Study, Cape May County Technical High School has opened a re-designed carpentry/building management program in renovated instructional spaces at the high school. Students in grades 10-12 will be able to earn OSHA credentials and college credits as they train for careers in this high-demand field.
The Camden County Technical School (CCTS) District will now offer a video production career program at the Pennsuaken campus. In the past, the program was only offered at the district’s Gloucester Township campus.
Union County Vocational-Technical Schools (UCVTS) has launched a shared-time program in interactive media and game design. Students will focus on the design and development of digital communications media, video games and apps, using computer software and technology to present text, graphics, video, audio, coding and animation in an integrated learning environment.
Ocean County Vocational Technical School (OCVTS) has included audio engineering as a fourth discipline of study, along with vocal music, dance and acting, at the district’s full-time Performing Arts Academy. Audio engineering, which combines art and science in a field that requires specialized technical knowledge, has been offered as a shared-time program in the district since 1997.
OCVTS has also introduced a new mechanical services technology program for shared-time high school students. The curriculum incorporates practical, hands-on training in the operating theory of today’s hot water, heating and air conditioning and plumbing systems. Students will learn the skills needed to service, repair and install systems in all of these areas, including industry safety standards, blueprint reading, electrical schematic diagrams, building codes, electrical control wiring and troubleshooting as well as piping installations and basic plumbing concepts.
NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR COLLEGE CREDITS
Building on the board array of articulation and dual credit agreements between county vocational-technical schools and more than 35 New Jersey colleges and universities, Warren County Technical School is now offering dual enrollment courses for college credits in conjunction with Warren County Community College.
Courses include AP Chemistry, AP Psychology, Honors Biology, Business Management, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus, Sociology, Health Sciences III, and Health Sciences IV. Warren Tech will also be offering an Environmental Science course.
Passaic County Technical Institute (PCTI) Academy of Finance students will be able to earn 36 credits at Berkeley College through a dual enrollment articulation agreement, which includes courses taught by PCTI instructors and Berkeley on-line courses.
Special needs students in the PCTI kitchen assistant program will receive up to 12 credits at Bergen Community College in a dual enrollment articulation agreement this fall.
NEW ELECTIVE COURSE OPTIONS
Warren County Technical School is offering new career elective courses that students can take in addition to their primary career program courses, including Intro to Metal Shop, Intro to Welding, Intro to Technical Applications, Electrical Applications–Homeownership, Intro to Dance, Public Speaking, Listening, and Debate, Intro to Computer Programming, Intro to Woodshop, and Construction Trades–Homeownership.
Burlington County Institute of Technology is now offering American Sign Language (ASL) as a world languages option.
RENOVATIONS, EXPANSIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS
Union County Vocational & Technical Schools Magnet High School has repurposed space in its building to be used as a Makerspace, a place to combine vocational education, cross-disciplinary learning, and creativity. It will provide students with opportunities to work on complex, open-ended projects while learning skills used in college and industry and better understand the design concepts they learn in their classes.
Atlantic County Institute of Technology has also created a Makerspace equipped with
Dremel tools, 3-D printers, and laser cutters to support innovation and design thinking. ACIT is welcoming its largest freshman class ever, bringing the school’s full-time enrollment to almost 1600 students. The school’s south wing has been renovated to accommodate state-of-the-art learning spaces, including engineering and design classrooms, health science and medical assisting clinical areas, and information technology work spaces.
Passaic County Institute of Technology has new state-of-the-art classrooms for its School of Business and for the dance and vocal programs in its School of Performing Arts.
Ocean County Vocational Technical Schools renovated the district’s Toms River Center to include classroom space, a CAD (computer-assisted design) laboratory and a robotics laboratory for the OCVTS Pre-Engineering Technology Program. This STEM-based program of study prepares students to work in the field of digital fabrication process including the use of computerized numerical control (CNC) technology, which precisely machines materials into desired forms. Other areas of study include engineering and systems analysis, automation, planning and design, quality control, and informational infrastructure.
As part of a project to expand the Academy of Law and Public Safety, housed at the Ocean County Fire and First Aid Academy in Waretown, OCVTS also completed major renovations to the district’s nearby Waretown Center, including several new classrooms, a science lab, a fitness center and updated technology which will provide an innovative learning environment for the law and public safety and forensic curriculum.
MIDDLE SCHOOL AND AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS
Camden County Technical School District has received a $2.5 million grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program to offer after-school character education programs and college-readiness and career exploration opportunities to middle school students.
Based on the success of the STEM enrichment programs for middle-school students offered this summer, Passaic County Technical Institute is expanding its fall and spring “Saturday Academies” for grade 7 and 8 students to include pre-engineering, biotechnology and computer science in order to introduce them to the concepts of design and development, robotics, programming, scientific experimentation and genomics.