A Century of Excellence
In a journey spanning over a century, Middlesex County's vocational and technical education system has evolved and expanded continuously. A century ago, county officials embarked on a quest to provide our community with the best resource available: education. The district, at its inception, focused on woodworking and mechanical drawing, and gradually grew to encompass a range of disciplines and campuses, serving students from all walks of life. Throughout the years, the school district has adapted to meet the dynamic needs of the community, introducing specialized programs, and embracing students with special needs.
Our district history begins on October 26, 1914, where Judge Peter F. Daly issued an order establishing the Board of Education for Vocational Schools in the County of Middlesex and appointed five members, including the Middlesex County Superintendent of Schools. With this act, our school system became the first county vocational school system in the United States of America.
On September 20, 1915, the first full-time all-day vocational school known as Middlesex County Vocational School No. 1 was opened in a rented building on Guilden Street in New Brunswick. Fifty one boys enrolled in woodworking, mechanical drawing, and the related subjects.
During the school year 1915-16, a one-story building was built on Bettrand Avenue in Perth Amboy to be known as Middlesex County Vocational School No. 2. It opened on October 1, 1916 with an enrollment of forty-five. Subjects studied were machine shop practice, mechanical drawing, mathematics, science, English, and civics.
On October 20, 1919, the boys vocational departments at the Vocational School No. 1 were moved to a new building on Easton Avenue in New Brunswick. The old building on Guilden Street was used for home economics courses for girls; being the first all-day program for girls in our county schools. The school on Guilden Street eventually closed in 1925.
On September 12, 1927, the faculty and pupils of the Middlesex County Vocational School No. 2 moved to a largger building located on New Brunswick Avenue in Perth Amboy. In 1938 the Board of Education accepted a grant from the Federal government to build a girls vocational school. On property given by Mr. and Mrs. Hampton Cutter, the new vocational school in Woodbridge was completed in 1939. It opened September 18, 1939 with an enrollment of 194.
On April 1, 1949, the State Board of Education approved the district to establish a Middlesex County Adult Technical School for the purpose of providing full-time pre-employment training for adults in skilled trades and technical occupations.
The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical High School in East Brunswick opened for students in September, 1970, with course offerings in eighteen trades and doubling the capacity of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical High Schools.
In 1972, with a grant from the Division of Vocational Education of the Department of Education, the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical High Schools initiated a Special Needs Program for classified handicapped students. The program consisted of two employment orientation shops located at the New Brunswick facility and served forty students on shared-time arrangement. In September 1974, the program was expanded to include an additional employment orientation shop at the Woodbridge School.
The subsequent years continued to be very impactful for the district. In 1974, a horticulture building was constructed on the site of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical High School, East Brunswick. In 1975, a Cooperative Industrial Education program was adopted so students could work in the trade trained for, while completing the twelfth grade. A Special Needs addition was added on the East Brunswick School site in 1977. The addition included eleven shop programs for 300 special needs students.
A fifth vocational and technical high school, located at the site of the former Camp Kilmer in Piscataway Township, opened its doors for the first time in 1977. An addition of four classrooms and an adaptive gymnasium was added to the Special Needs Department at East Brunswick in 1979. In 1982, additions were added to the Special Needs Departments at Piscataway and Woodbridge.
The 21st Century
On November 3, 2000, a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical High Schools’ Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies in Edison marked the inauguration of the district’s first high school that focuses on pre-engineering technologies. The Academy was established to become a specialized high school located on the campus of Middlesex College (then, known as Middlesex County College), driven by a rigorous college preparatory curriculum. Students major in Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology or Civil and Mechanical Engineering Technology.
On April 19, 2004, the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools’ new technology enriched replacement school for the Perth Amboy campus that was part of the redevelopment and revitalization of the City of Perth Amboy opened for students. With a new and improved building and continued focus on the community of Perth Amboy since 1927, the school featured a program of study that focuses on instruction in emerging technologies and a curriculum that emphasizes a linkage between secondary and post-secondary education. Middlesex College also operated a remote campus also located at this facility.
The Woodbridge Campus of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools was renovated and converted into the Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences. The Academy of Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences began its first class in September 2008 after three years of building renovation. This is a four-year, full-time high school dedicated to advancing the education of high performing students in Middlesex County. This Academy program prepares high school students for success in college and health careers. The renovation included the addition of two academic classrooms and two state of the art Science labs.
New Name, New Era
In June 2022, Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools (MCVTS) formally unveiled a new name to represent a significant transformation and marking a new chapter in its storied history of over a century. The school district, now known as the Middlesex County Magnet Schools, proudly presented a fresh name and visual identity designed to accurately represent the specialized educational opportunities it provides to Middlesex County residents.
This historic occasion was officially announced during a press conference at the East Brunswick campus to articulate the district's vision to unify its schools under an identity that faithfully represents the diverse educational experiences offered at the Middlesex County Magnet Schools. County leadership and school district officials gathered to discuss the far-reaching implications of this change and its positive impact on students, staff, parents, and the broader region.
Throughout its more than 100-year history, our school district has evolved to meet the changing needs of the county community. We expanded program offerings beyond skills-based training to include rigorous academic coursework, with a particular emphasis on STEM subjects. Concurrently, Middlesex County envisioned a master plan for long-term economic success, emphasizing the county's full support for the district's commitment to providing current and future generations with the skills and knowledge needed for success in the community.
From the humble beginnings in 1914, our schools and services to the people, businesses and industry of Middlesex County have grown significantly.
To inquire more about the district's current goals and objectives, please contact:
Middlesex County Magnet Schools have won first place in two categories in NJSPRA's 2023 communication awards. The only school district to receive two first-place honors, the Magnet Schools were recognized in the “Newsletter” and “Marketing, Branding, and Image” categories.
Middlesex County and RWJBarnabas Health announce workforce partnership to foster future talent pipeline
The RWJBarnabas Health Workforce Partnership aims to create unique educational pathways and curricula for the benefit of Middlesex College and Middlesex County Magnet School students, as well as meet the future workforce needs of the Jack & Sheryl Morris Cancer Center at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and RWJBarnabas Health.
NJDOE announces Middlesex County Magnet Schools as one of the distinguished recipients of the state's Lighthouse Award for its exceptional strides in increasing equity in dual enrollment programming, allowing students to earn college credit while still in high school.
Two Middlesex County Magnet Schools have been ranked among the top four public high schools in New Jersey by U.S. News & World Report.