High Tech High began in 2000 as a single charter high school launched by a coalition of San Diego business leaders and educators. It has evolved into an integrated network of schools spanning grades K-12, housing a comprehensive teacher certification program and a new, innovative Graduate School of Education.
High Tech High was originally conceived by a group of about 40 civic and high tech industry leaders in San Diego, assembled by the Economic Development Corporation and the Business Roundtable, who met regularly in 1996-98 to discuss the challenge of finding qualified individuals for the high-tech work force. In particular, members were concerned about the “digital divide” that resulted in low numbers of women and ethnic minority groups entering the fields of math, science, and engineering. Gary Jacobs, Director of Education Programs at Qualcomm, and Kay Davis, Director of the Business Roundtable, were key participants in these discussions.
In late 1998 the group voted to start a charter school and engaged Larry Rosenstock, then President of Price Charities in San Diego, as the founding principal. The founding group was clear about its intent: to create a school where students would be passionate about learning and would acquire the basic skills of work and citizenship. Rosenstock, a former carpentry teacher, lawyer, and high school principal who had recently directed the U.S. Department of Education’s New Urban High School project, brought a vision and a sense of the design principles by which this mission might be accomplished (see Design Principles, below).
From January 1999 to the opening of the Gary & Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High in September of 2000, Rosenstock and the founding group, led by Gary Jacobs, worked in tandem. Rosenstock located a site, prepared the charter application, hired staff, and oversaw the development of the program, while Jacobs and the business community took the lead in addressing issues of financing and facilities development.
For more information about this innovative school please view the video below: