The Bergen County Technical Schools District was founded in 1951 to oversee the County's growing need for vocational education. The following year, Bergen County Vocational-Technical High School, the first full-time facility of its kind in the state, opened at 200 Hackensack Avenue. At that time, students studied the union trades of plumbing, carpentry, masonry, and electrical work.
Because technical and vocational schooling is always closely tied to the job market, the cornerstone of the district’s success has been its ability to adapt to the changing needs of local industry. When industry’s needs later changed from hand tools to computers, technical education had to adapt as well.
The district believed students needed strong academic and technical skills to meet the challenges of the future. In the late 1980s, the district began offering before- and after-school enrichment classes for students interested in high-tech areas such as computers, physics, and electronics. The program opened the world of modern vocational education to gifted and talented students. With the aid of a $6 million county bond, the district began to bring unparalleled technology to the county.
Secondary students from throughout Bergen County used the campus’s computer and science labs in cooperative and exploratory programs. Middle school students—and their teachers—were exposed to new technologies through a program called ECEMS (Enrichment and Career Exploration in Math and Science). In-service workshops and a professional development school, Apple Academy East, one of the most successful test sites for Apple Computer, followed. These innovative offerings helped initiate full-time programs in technical, career-driven areas for talented students who wished to study in an exciting, nontraditional learning environment.
Today, the district’s secondary programs include the Bergen County Academies, seven magnet high school programs that meld college prep classes with a career focus; Bergen County Technical High School/Teterboro, a full-time program with nine technical concentrations; and Bergen County Technical High School/Paramus, a secondary program with a full-time option for special needs students and a shared-time option for students from local sending districts.
The District offers full- and part-time technical instruction to over 18,000 secondary and adult students. Through innovative programs, the district has created a new model for secondary education in New Jersey.
As a school district of choice, BCTS is compelled to find new and innovative ways to attract students. Cutting-edge research centers and state-of-the-art technology support the district’s technology-infused and project-driven curricula. All classrooms are equipped with computers and more than 2,500 computers are available on and off campus to students, teachers, and staff. The district’s effort toward forging partnerships with institutions of higher education has resulted in a multitude of early college options on all three campuses. Onsite at the Hackensack and Teterboro campuses, students can take Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. Through successful completion of AP and IB courses, students have the opportunity to earn credit or advanced standing at most of the nation’s colleges and universities. In addition, there are a number of articulation agreements with universities and colleges such as Fairleigh Dickinson University and New Jersey Institute of Technology which offer select graduating students sophomore standing at the partnering school. Students are also able to take a number of college courses off-site at Fairleigh Dickinson University and Bergen Community College prior to graduating high school. At the campus in Paramus, students are able to pursue certifications through Bergen Community College in grounds management, graphics, culinary arts, network support, or small business.They can also begin working toward their Associate’s Degree in selected areas.