Career Tech History

A History of Progress at Northwest Education Services  Career Tech


In 1975, the Traverse Bay Area ISD Career-Tech Center was formed following the passage of a five-county millage election to fund the new school serving Grand Traverse, Antrim, Kalkaska, Benzie and Leelanau county high school students. It was the second millage attempt in under five years and the center’s original staff consisted of Jack Drew, Carol Chambers, John Nuske and Marilyn Young.

The 80,000 square foot Parsons Road facility in Traverse City was acquired to house the center’s ten initial programs. By the end of the decade, the center expanded to include 22 programs such as food services, building trades, child care, small engines and more.


The 1980’s was a decade of significant growth for the Career-Tech Center. The facility itself increased in size by 20,000 square feet to accommodate additional student service and administrative space and classrooms. Another 10,000 square foot addition made room for the adult work center services.

Relationships with Northwestern Michigan College and area businesses were also expanding during this decade, setting the stage for long-term mutually beneficial educational options for the region’s students and useful networking in the local economy.


Following many formative years, the Career-Tech Center spent the 1990’s fine-tuning its organizational structure to best leverage its robust community partnerships and increasingly professional instructional staff. In response to student needs and feedback from the business community, the center established several groups with the goal of continuous improvement of program offerings, academic instruction, student organizations, and business relationships. As a result of its efforts and growing strengths, the center was accredited as validation for quality educational services provided to the students of the northwestern Michigan region.

2000 and Beyond

With the turn of the century, the career tech center zeroed in on continued improvement of education through development of common standards for all programs, establishing benchmarks for student and instructor success and continued expansion and improvement of the facility and equipment. One notable hallmark of the center’s quality is the establishment of the work ethic program which encourages every student in every program to dedicate effort and perform with dependability, positivity and integrity. The integration of English language arts and math instruction into every career and technical education program was another important milestone during this period that drastically improved student outcomes.

In return on center’s investment in these improvements, the 2000’s has been a period of great celebration for recognition received at the state and national level for outstanding staff and student accomplishments. Amongst the many awards received, the career tech center was awarded several State of Michigan Excellence in Practice Awards. Students have been honored with national awards in robotics from National Robotics Challenge and Honda Innovation, and a first place award from Skills USA.

2016 marked an important period of expansion when again, the ISD added more square footage and state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories and equipment to serve students in high school and early adulthood. Commitment to growth and improvement, along with a responsiveness to student needs has paid off by establishing  as a premier center for education that provides its students unparalleled hands-on learning and opportunities.

In 2020, the ISD conducted an extensive rebranding project and transitioned from Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District to Northwest Education Services in March of 2021. At that same time the Traverse Bay Area Career-Tech Center and its programs aligned with the new brand, and is now named Northwest Education Services Career Tech (North Ed Career Tech).