Tech High School History
The concept of Technical High School began in a classroom at Central High. The original program offered penmanship, bookkeeping, accounting, typewriting, shorthand and related commercial subjects for students who wanted to pursue a career in business. High demand for this type of instruction prompted the original High School of Commerce to open in 1912 at an empty elementary school building near 17th and Leavenworth St. As interest and demand continued to grow throughout the next decade, the district determined a new building was needed.
Technical High School opened at 3215 Cuming St. in 1923 providing a comprehensive high school education focused on both academics and vocational training to nearly 2700 students. The school contained 20 shops, 12 laboratories, five drafting rooms, a greenhouse, a rooftop garden, two gymnasiums and the first swimming pool at any Omaha public school. At the time, it was the largest school west of Chicago and thought to be the best-equipped facility in the region.
Over the following decades, the curriculum expanded to include technical trades including metal forging and carpentry, the arts, communications and living skills. The school also became known for its accomplished athletic department, counting Bob Boozer, Bob Gibson and Johnny Rodgers among the list of noteworthy graduates. The focus of Technical High School evolved in the 1970s with a turn toward more individualized instruction that challenged students at their personal skill levels to encourage success and confidence in a wider variety of courses.
The school served the community for six decades before closing in 1984. After its closure, the building was fully renovated to serve as the district headquarters for Omaha Public Schools. Many of the original elements of the building have been preserved, including the original lobby with polished marble and ornate moldings. The main entrance to the building is now on the east side and features a three-story atrium. Stone steps to a former second-story entrance were removed, and a new first-floor entrance was built for easier access. Architects also used the high ceilings in the two original gymnasiums to create two floors of office space.
A campaign is underway to renovate the acoustically authentic auditorium, which was designed to seat 2,060 and hosted musical performances by John Philip Sousa, the Metropolitan Opera Company of New York and actors Cornelia Otis Skinner, Helen Hayes and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
The former Tech High School building was transformed into the Teacher Administrative Center (TAC) following its closure in 1984. TAC houses the administrative offices for Omaha Public Schools which includes departments such as human resources, curriculum and instruction support, payroll, printing and publications, nutrition services and more. In addition, the Omaha Virtual School and the Career Center are located within the Teacher Administrative Center.
The Career Center, established in 1976, serves over 700 Omaha Public Schools students daily. High School students from across the district participate in radio and television broadcast instruction, multimedia, printing, digital electronics, auto body and auto mechanics, health sciences, commercial design, construction, English as a Second Language (ESL), graphic arts and networking. The Career Center is also home to KIOS, the district's public radio station, broadcasting at 91.5 FM.
The Omaha Virtual School was the first virtual school in the state of Nebraska. It now serves students in grades K-12. Students at the Omaha Virtual School benefit from a blended learning environment, combining the best of both virtual and traditional classrooms. With the support of family, students move through their coursework. They also meet in person once per week with opportunities for labs, guest speakers, field trips and other face-to-face cooperative learning.