Some people think it’s a stand alone high school, while others think it’s part of Arapahoe Ridge High School, which happens to share the same building. But it’s neither.
Boulder TEC (Technical Education Center) is a hands-on program available to all BVSD juniors and seniors.
Students still attend their home school, but go to Boulder TEC a few hours every day to earn college credits and certifications in a specific industry, including:
Automotive Collision Repair
Automotive Service Technology
Cosmetology (hair, nails and skin)
Early Childhood Education
Emergency Medical Responder
Forensics Investigation and Criminology
Many people who learn about Boulder TEC say it is “BVSD’s Best Kept Secret.” While it has been around since 1967 (once serving more than 1,000 students on two campuses), today many high students do not realize that it is not only available to them, but an excellent opportunity to kick start a career. The program, which now serves more than 400 students on the Arapahoe Campus, hopes to change that.
Boulder TEC programs are only offered to juniors and seniors who have a strong idea of what they want to do after High School and are committed to the intense responsibilities of fulfilling college credits and certifications. This allows them to use their freshman and sophomore years to explore their interests, gather the background academic knowledge that’s needed to be successful in these programs, and build a connection with their home school.
“Some of these programs are industry level,” added Huffman. “It’s the same as if you would walk into a business in the community. That takes a pretty high level maturity and somebody who’s willing to take on that level of responsibility. Once you get to 11th and 12th grade, 16, 17, 18 years old, you can be pretty confident that those students are at that level. The goal of the programs at Boulder TEC is to really launch a student further down their education and career pathway. Juniors and seniors have been able to plan for a long time to come here and they put those pieces together to maximize their success.”
Boulder TEC has a strong collaboration with Metro State and Front Range Community College. The colleges create the competencies needed and what the students need to understand and demonstrate to earn credits. Then the actual curriculum and how it’s delivered is developed by the Boulder TEC teachers.
“A program at a Career and Technical Education Center like Boulder TEC is required by the state in preparing the students for entry level work in that career or field,” Huffman said. “The vast majority of our curriculum is really anchored in the requirements for those certificates. Most of the industries and business areas have some sort of certificate that is meaningful for entry level. The state also has an incentive program where they provide some money back to the schools, back to those programs where the students earn a certificate.”
Last year, Boulder TEC students earned 441 industry certificates. With the funds through the Colorado Department of Education's Career Development Incentive Program, over $290,000 will come directly back to programs which will update equipment to industry standards and help teachers receive relevant training. That's a doubling of the certificates earned in just one year!
Teachers at Boulder TEC are industry experts and have a passion for what they do. Their passion is contagious and seems to rub off on the students.
Criminal Justice Forensics Instructor Wendy Stogner previously worked for the Lafayette Police Department and was the School Resource Officer for Centaurus High School for 9 years. So she’s no stranger to BVSD. She revamped the program, added more topics and it took off from there.
“It’s something so different from regular school and I think it gets them [the students] energized for their future,” said Stogner, “They have the whole world in front of them. I want to just give them a little taste of what it can be like in the real world. All of us TEC teachers want to show them what they can do. I love this generation of kids. They are very open.”
“I think it’s safe to say that all TEC educators here both live and love what we do,” said Richard Krammes, Hair Styling Educator.
Auto Collision Repair Instructor, Bill Uttich, is a graduate of the program and has been teaching there since 1990. “The first words out of some of these student’s mouths was, ‘Bill, we’re in this till the end. We want to be here.’ That was very nice to hear. These young men and women are awesome students.”
Keeping the facility up-to-date with the most current equipment is critical for the students to receive a real-world experience. Recent bond construction work to the facility has helped make tremendous updates to the auto service technician, auto collision repair and welding areas.
“We were able to reimagine the space and make it a professional shop,” added Huffman. “No question we want our students to have experience on that industry-level equipment in an environment that operates and feels much like the professional environments that are out there.”
With limited space available, students must apply to get into the programs at Boulder TEC. A Virtual Open House will take place from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 25, by visiting https://tec.bvsd.org/about/open-house. Applications will also begin being accepted that day for the 2021/2022 school year.
Learn more about Boulder TEC at https://tec.bvsd.org/.