Visalia’s hands-on charter high school has changed names, grade levels, and college credits in the last decade
VISALIA – Ten years ago, Visalia Technical Early College (VTEC) was founded with a hands-on approach to learning. The philosophy is somewhat simple, “that students learn best when they are engaged in high-interest, meaningful curricular activities that are based on clear academic standards.”
Originally under the name the Visalia Technical Education Center, the school was approved by the Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) board in July 2009 and opened in August of the same year.
According to the school’s website, VUSD “had long held a desire to provide a viable Career Technical Education (CTE) high school option for high school students. Founding group members began exploring a charter high school as a means to provide increased opportunities for students who became disconnected from school, those looking for a career focused high school opportunity, and students who wanted to accelerate.”
The name was later changed in 2013 to Visalia Technical Early College with the same initials, in order to more effectively describe the early college component of the school.
The 35-acre campus is located on the former College of the Sequoias’ farm in Visalia. The curriculum is ag-oriented offering three pathways – Animal and Veterinary Science, Ag Systems Technology which includes classes in welding, plumbing, and how to operate and repair tractors and other farm equipment, and Ag Business & Food Science.
Students may attend college classes on the COS campuses while fulfilling their high school requirements providing a jump-start on their further education. All VTEC students must join FFA.
In the beginning, grades 10-12 were offered, said Principal Bill Davis. But, in 2013, the school began accepting freshmen to adhere with the other high schools in the district. The school, and its students, work very closely with the local ag community, Davis said. VTEC also works closely with COS and Reedley College so students may begin taking college-level classes even as early as their freshman year.
Some students complete as many as 60 college units while in high school. This year, one senior graduated high school while earning her associates degree from COS at the same time. Of the school’s 66 graduating seniors this year, 88 percent met the CTE Standards for California Public Schools compared with 43% last year. But, the overall goal is 100 percent, Davis said. He said he’ll be happy to reach the 90 percentile by next year.
Not every student will go on to attend college. For those, VTEC offers a lot of technical training to go into a work place situation after graduation.
Any student within the boundaries of the Visalia Unified District is eligible for VTEC. It has open enrollment until it reaches its cap of 300 students, and then goes to a lottery system. Currently the school is under its 300-max mark and administration is still accepting applications for the Fall, 2019 semester. Classroom sizes are smaller than many other public schools with more individualized attention for its students. For more information on VTEC, call 559-622-3212.