MIDDLESEX COUNTY — A number of new programs – including multi-media art and design and “green” technology – greeted students in the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District when they returned for the 2012-2013 school year.
“We have initiated a comprehensive review of our Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs with a goal of incorporating research-based curriculum, industry standards and industry accreditation wherever possible,” said Superintendent of Schools Brian J. Loughlin. “We are expanding our CTE program linkages with colleges, universities, apprenticeship, industry and regional employers. Additionally, we are developing CTE programs for new and emerging career areas.”
In addition, 32 new staff members were hired by the district, most to replace retirees or staffers who resigned.
“We’re starting a new teacher orientation program where they have a monthly meeting with a few administrators and work on professional development,” said Dianne Veilleux, assistant superintendent of schools.
The new multi-media career major, which is on the East Brunswick campus, covers animation, digital design, gaming and other aspects of digital publishing. The curriculum is being developed in cooperation with New Jersey Institute of Technology, one of 15 higher education institutions with which MCVTS has articulation agreements, allowing students to receive college credits or advanced standing for high school classes.
“We’ve got a larger and larger proportion of our students going on to college, so we want to make sure they’re prepared,” Veilleux said.
A districtwide effort is underway to upgrade math classes, with algebra now the threshold course for ninth-graders.
“We’ve accelerated our math program across the district so that all students start with algebra or a higher level of math,” Veilleux said.
The green program will span several career majors, including construction trades, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and architectural drafting. The goal is to teach environmentally responsible practices by examining such topics as geo-thermal and solar energy and sustainable design. A green lab is being planned, with two possible sites under consideration.
The science curriculum also will be involved in the green initiative, with ninth-graders learning about sustainable science and 10th-graders being offered a course in the science of building.
Dr. Todd Bonsall, director of career and technical education, said the two cosmetology shops on the East Brunswick campus, which are used both by high school students and adult students, have been renovated to resemble modern salons.
“It was a complete overhaul,” he said.
The Eighth Grade Employment Opportunity Program, now known as the Career Choices Program, has been redesigned to better align with the high school career majors. This program is offered to Middlesex County eighth-graders at the Woodbridge campus on a shared-time basis.
“The students now will be able to experience a variety of our career major programs so they can make a more informed decision for their career path,” Bonsall said.
The MCVTS welding technology program is now affiliated with the American Welding Society, which allows students who successfully complete the program an opportunity to earn an AWS level one welding credential, enhancing their prospects for employment. The automotive technology program is in the process of completing its recertification by the National Automotive Technicians Educational Foundation, which allows students to sit for Automotive Service Excellence student assessments.
The district also is continuing to implement the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education in East Brunswick and the Project Lead the Way curriculum at its Woodbridge Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences.
MVCTS is participating in the Literacy in CTE pilot program, a new program that teams shop teachers with English teachers to implement literacy standards in the career and technical education programs.
“We’re hoping the career and technical education students will have a better understanding of literacy embedded within their fields to strengthen their employability skills,” Bonsall said.
The Middlesex County Vocational & Technical School District has seven schools on five campuses, in East Brunswick, Edison, Piscataway, Perth Amboy and Woodbridge. Perth Amboy Vo-Tech has been named a National Blue Ribbon School for 2012, and the Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies in Edison was singled out as one of the nation’s best high schools by U.S. News & World Report for the fourth consecutive time, receiving Bronze Medal honors in the magazine’s ranking of the nation’s best public high schools for 2012. In addition, New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked the Edison Academy fourth in New Jersey in its first survey of the state’s vocational high schools. The Edison Academy and the Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences in Woodbridge were ranked first and second among all Middlesex County public high schools by Inside Jersey magazine, a publication of the Star-Ledger.
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