The Essex County Schools of Technology (ECST) District offers a full service program that has been recognized by such notable publications as US News & World Report, Business Week Magazine and School Matters Magazine for its outstanding academic performance. All four of its high schools, Newark Tech, Bloomfield Tech, North 13th St. Tech, and West Caldwell Tech have made the list of the top 81 public high schools in NJ in recent years as noted by US News & World Report. North 13th St. was identified as a Bronze Medal winner in the Best High Schools in the country for 2014 by US News & World Report. In addition, two of the schools have been designated as winners of the National Blue Ribbon Award for Excellence; West Caldwell Tech in 2012 and Bloomfield Tech in 2009, and Bloomfield Tech and Newark Tech have been nominated for Blue Ribbon recognition for 2015. Bloomfield Tech and Newark Tech were also recognized as NJ Title I Distinguished Schools in 2008 and 2013 respectively, and were 2 of only 89 “High Performing” NJ schools in 2014. The district provides a college-preparatory academic program culminating in Advanced Placement coursework in addition to its Career and Technical Education (CTE) focus to approximately 2,200 students.
This secondary school district, one of the oldest and largest in the state, serves a diverse population of students. More than 85% of the student population is eligible for free or reduced lunch and over 90% are from school districts formerly known as Abbot Districts, among the lowest socio-economic districts in New Jersey. The ECST offer a full-service educational program meeting the needs of regular education students, special education students, those with Limited English Proficiency and adult learners who attend evening programs. More than 80% of the ECST graduates pursue a post-secondary school education in a two or four-year college.
The district has sophisticated facilities and equipment through which it provides instruction in over 30 career and technical clusters including: Health Careers, Music Production, Computer and Business Technology, Law and Public Safety, Graphic Design, Green Energy, Television Production, Dental Assistance, Automotive, Robotics, Building Trades, Agricultural Science, Culinary Arts, Horticulture and Cosmetology. These programs also provide our students the opportunity to work in professional internships during the school day, such as the Panasonic corporate headquarters in Newark.
The district’s forward thinking is evidenced by the opening of the “classroom of the future” in the fall of 2013 at the Newark Tech campus. The Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) Center is characterized by a shift from the traditional chalkboard and lecture style of learning to a hybrid model that is technology-driven, interactive, learner-centered, and interdisciplinary. The facility features, state-of-the-art, glass-enclosed flexible learning spaces, and robotics lab. Instant and continuous access to information and learning opportunities is possible through one-to-one laptops and facilitated through learning platforms such as Moodle, Google Apps, and Project Foundry. The first TEALC cohort was selected through an extensive application process that included interviews, assessments, skills inventories, and participation in an experiential summer program that included field experiences and workshops facilitated by Rutgers Newark Business school. A select group of seniors work in the TA center in the am session, and all sophomores are exposed to this innovative teaching-learning approach in the pm session. Students are also afforded the opportunity to earn college credits through a partnership with Essex County College.
Our four high schools offer a wide variety of co-curricular activities to complement the instructional and CTE programs to provide our students opportunities to explore and develop their talents and interests outside the classrooms and labs. These include athletic programs, student government, music and dance, literature and those responding to social concerns.
The District is in the process of completing a design for a new high school projected to open in September 2018. The two oldest schools, Bloomfield Tech and No. 13 St. Tech, will be closed. Their programs and students will be shifted to the new school, the Essex County Donald M. Payne, Sr. Vocational-Technical Campus. This building will have state-of-the-art academic, CTE and co-curricular facilities and programs.
As the Essex County Executive, Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., describes our district, “The future is becoming reality as our vocational technical school district continues to implement cutting edge technology into the classroom that is challenging our students, allowing them to thrive and preparing them for a variety of professional careers.” The future of the Essex County Schools of Technology and their focus on Career & Technical Education (CTE) is very bright.