- Chester County Intermediate Unit
CCIU Celebrates 50 Years of Providing Career & Technical Education in Chester County
Phoenixville, PA – On October 16, the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) celebrated 50 years of providing career and technical education (CTE) in Chester County. Over 120 alumni, former staff, current staff and students gathered at the Technical College High School (TCHS) Pickering Campus to celebrate the nearly 15,000 students who have received a career and technical education in Chester County since 1969.
The event featured remarks by CCIU leaders, Chester County legislators, an alumnus from the Northern Chester County Technical School Class of 1985 and a current TCHS Pickering student. Culinary students from all three TCHS campuses catered the event, Criminal Justice and Police Science students helped with parking and security and TCHS student ambassadors provided tours of the school following the celebration.
Dr. George F. Fiore, executive director of the Chester County Intermediate Unit, noted the significant growth that career and technical education has made over the last 50 years in Chester County.
“Times have certainly changed, and we’ve made great strides over the last 50 years. In 1969, the total county enrollment for career and technical education in Chester County was 1,178 students. Fifty years later, in 2019, the total enrollment for career and technical education in Chester County has nearly doubled to 2,254 students. This growth clearly reflects the importance and popularity of career and technical education over the last 50 years, and we are so fortunate to have three incredible state-of-the-art campuses to reflect that. Furthermore, CTE today is a strong option for students to gain the necessary skills to be successful now and in the future. I would strongly recommend parents and families learn more about the wonderful career options offered at the Technical College High Schools that have served Chester County, our students and families for 50 years,” said Fiore.
The event, which brought together representatives from the CCIU Board, the Chester County School Authority, Senator Andy Dinniman, Representative Melissa Shusterman, Deputy County Administrator Kara Rahn, Chester County superintendents, industry partners, CCIU staff and TCHS students, parents and alumni, highlighted how TCHS has helped to revolutionize career and technical education in the state of Pennsylvania.
Bonnie Wolff, President of the CCIU Board of Directors, noted that, “TCHS also represented a new model for career and technical education in the state of Pennsylvania. The school featured three distinct, yet interrelated, educational programs: traditional high school career and technical programs; traditional college courses through Delaware County Community College (DCCC); and, new dual-enrollment classes that blended high school and for-credit college courses. TCHS was the first career and technical center in the state to implement such an integrated approach to education,” said Wolff.
Chuck DiLabbio, a graduate of the Northern Chester County Technical (NCCTS) School class of 1985 and currently the Facilities Manager at Sikorsky Aircraft, A Lockheed Martin Company located in Coatesville, offered his reflection on the impact that career and technical education had on his career. “Even though I no longer work directly with electronics, which is what I studied while at NCCTS, the skills I acquired here are something I use every single day and have helped me throughout my career,” said DiLabbio.
Wynter Patterson-Tart, a senior carpentry student at the Technical College High School (TCHS) Pickering Campus in Phoenixville, offered a vision for what career and technical education might look like in the next 50 years. “As a young woman of color, in a largely male dominated industry, I am part of a new generation of career and technical students who are turning the word typical on its head. In the next 50 years, I hope that more students will get to say, ‘I know what I want to be when I grow up’ by taking advantage of a career and technical education,” said Patterson-Tart.
The history of career and technical education began with the opening of the Central Chester County Technical School in 1968. During the 1969-1970 school year, the Northern Chester County Technical School was opened to serve the students in the northern part of the county.
On October 3, 1989, the Transitional Joint Operating Subcommittee was formed to help determine the future of career and technical education in the county. This group voted to officially rename the Central Chester County Technical School and the Northern Chester County Technical School as the Center for Arts & Technology (CAT) Brandywine Campus and the Center for Arts & Technology (CAT) Pickering Campus, respectively. The Transitional Joint Operating Subcommittee then passed administrative responsibility of both campuses to the CCIU, while the Chester County School Authority took ownership of both the buildings and the land on which the schools were located.
In 2008, the CCIU opened the Chester County Technical College High School (TCHS) Pennock’s Bridge Campus, located in West Grove, PA. In 2012, the Chester County Intermediate Unit opened the TCHS Brandywine Campus in Downingtown in place of the Center for Arts & Technology (CAT) Brandywine Campus in Coatesville, and the Center for Arts & Technology (CAT) Pickering Campus became TCHS Pickering Campus during this period and underwent a significant renovation that was completed in 2017.
Are you an alumnus of the Central Chester County Technical School, Northern Chester County Technical School, CAT Brandywine, CAT Pickering, TCHS Brandywine, TCHS Pickering or TCHS Pennock’s Bridge? We would love to hear about your experience and what you are doing now. Please visit www.cciu.org/myCTEstory to share your story with us!