As a middle school student, Dr. Edward Lazaros restored a 1967 Buick Grand Sport 400 convertible. Once a family treasure, it had sat on a dirt floor shed for years during the gas crisis in the 1970s and had started to rust. “I prepped the car with primer. I invested in all the air tools necessary to do the bodywork. I restored it, and I then had it professionally painted. I removed the engine myself. I had an engine lift. I rebuilt the engine and the transmission.”
The past shaping his future
That experience helped him in his auto mechanics class as a teen, which ultimately led him to where he is today – the program director and advisor of Career and Technical Education (CTE) here at Ball State. “I enjoyed my CTE courses as a high school student so I’m really proud to be able to be a part of that now as a working professional to try to give back,” said Lazaros.
Taking work experiences into the classroom
CTE is a field that includes many occupational areas, from different walks of life. Careers like construction, cosmetology, and even law enforcement to name a few. Lazaros said the state of Indiana values real-world experience. “They will grant these people with at least 6,000 hours of work experience, a provisional license called the Workplace I Specialist license, which is good for two years. It will allow them to start working in the classroom day one. During that two-year period, they are expected to enroll in an online and face-to-face training program. This is a program that Ball State University facilitates.” Lazaros has acquired nearly $900,000 in associated funding for this program since 2011.
The master’s program
Lazaros is also the program director and advisor of the Master of Arts in CTE. The program was one of the first of its kind to be offered online. “We are highly customizable. I would say that is what sets us apart from our competitors. Ball State University has a long history of preparing educators.” One of those educators is Darrell Shawl, an information technology instructor at Whitewater Career Center in Connersville, Indiana. CTE will be his second master’s degree. He worked in the private sector for a dozen years before he began teaching at Whitewater and chose to get his CTE masters at Ball State because of the convenience and the university’s reputation. The program is designed for students like Shawl who work full time and have families. Shawl is married with two boys.
Shawl teaches employable skills
Shawl teaches his students how to fix the technology they enjoy – computers, iPads, and cell phones. “We just started doing the phones last year. I tell the students most of them are going to get ready to go away to college. So, if they can spend a little extra money on the equipment that’s needed, they can depending on the type of phone, fix them. I told them, ‘There’s your gas money, your extra food money when you get to college, even now in high school.’ I’m just trying to give them options.”
A highly ranked program
When Shawl finishes next semester he will also have a CTE director’s license – the equivalent of a principal at a career center. Lazaros, who has become a mentor to Shawl, convinced him to get it. “I figured I may as well get it now while I can and keep it up and if something opens five years down the road then I’ve got the background.” Lazaros has convinced others to follow that same path which could be one of the reasons the program is so highly ranked. In 2014, the master’s program was named the 11th “Best Buy” by GetEducated.com, a consumer advocacy group.
Lazaros’ new title
In addition to these programs, Lazaros is now a professor in the Information Systems Operations Management Department in the Miller College of Business. The MA in CTE program is now closely paired with the MA in Business Education and Lazaros says graduate students from both programs will now have more course options. He is confident CTE students will have a great impact on the real world and go on to do great things.