View online edition


Two Steps Ahead

Cumberland County Tech graduates 51 high schoolers with a two-year head start on college.

Faith Johnson graduated CCTEC from the Health Science and Medicine career program and earned an associate degree from Rowan College of South Jersey through the Early College High School program. Born with cerebral palsy, Faith has not let her diagnosis deter her from pursuing interests and achieving goals.

Taking full advantage of opportunities to earn college credits while in high school, 251 students from across New Jersey’s county vocational-technical schools graduated with an associate degree this year in addition to a high school diploma. The students accumulated at least 60 credits throughout their high school education—the equivalent of a two-year head start on college.

Of the 251 students graduating from a county vocational-technical school this month with an associate degree, 51 students are from Cumberland County Technical Education Center (CCTEC), second highest in the state after the Bergen County Technical School District.

Faith Johnson is among the CCTEC graduates who participated in the school’s Early College High School program in partnership with Rowan College of South Jersey to earn an associate degree this spring. She will attend Stockton University and pursue a degree in literature this fall.

“I get to begin my life two years earlier and move more at my own pace,” Johnson said of entering college with her associate degree. “Because I finished two years of college, I am also financially set and won’t have to take out big student loans. But, most of all, those credits I am taking with me are a reminder of all the hard work I’ve done to get to this point.”

Born with cerebral palsy, Johnson said her mother never limited her dreams, but rather gave her confidence to set and reach goals. That support, combined with the guidance she received from the CCTEC counselors, helped her achieve this most recent goal of attaining her associate degree.

“We continue to see a rise in the number of students earning associate degrees while attending their county vocational-technical school,” said Dr. James Pedersen, superintendent of Essex County Schools of Technology and president of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools (NJCCVTS). “That reflects the commitment of our schools to support students in earning college credits as well as the ambition and focus of our students.”

Each of the state’s 21 county vocational-technical schools has articulation agreements with their county college, and other two and four-year colleges and universities, that enable students to earn credit for college-level work as part of their high school career and technical education program. Several schools, such as CCTEC, have agreements that provide a clear and accessible route for students to accumulate all the credits needed for an associate degree.

“At RCSJ we have two main pathways of education: Academic and Career/Technical education. Partnering with Gloucester County Institute of Technology and Cumberland County Technical Education Center is an obvious fit because the high school programs the students are in lead to academic and technical degrees as well as certificates at the collegiate level,” said Dr. Frederick Keating, RCSJ president.

“We also have a fit for high achieving students with options like the Pathway to Medicine. Our goal is to educate and motivate our local talent to stay here in South Jersey.”