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Ross Collins Career and Technical Center works to break out of old stereotype

By By Steve Gillespie/staff writer
Jan. 13, 2002
Wayne Eason, director of Ross Collins Career and Technical Center, is trying to change the old mindset that vocational training is for students who cannot excel in any other educational environment.
Eason likes to use the example that most nurses and aircraft mechanics have to go through some vocational classes. He said many of the drafting students at Ross Collins go into architecture, the industrial electricity class is a good background for students who become electrical engineers, and all medical fields are covered in the school's medical technology class.
Eason has been taking his message to civic clubs lately and the word is being spread to junior high school students so they will know what is available to them when they enter high school. Representatives from Ross Collins also visit junior highs and host tours for those students.
Eason also hopes the name change made this year from Ross Collins Vocational Technical School to Ross Collins Career and Technical Center, will help to lift the stigma associated with vocational training.
Ross Collins classes are electives available to any high school students, within the Meridian or Lauderdale County public school districts, private schools, or home schooled students.
The courses are geared to prepare students for jobs from entry-level to advanced. The curriculum combines classroom instruction that centers on real-life problems; laboratory work to give students supervised experience with materials and equipment; and student organizations that are used to teach leadership skills, positive work values and reinforce the curriculum.
Ross Collins was completed in November 1942, built by 120 students and 15 craftsmen from the National Youth Administration. World War II era classes held at the school included: aircraft sheet metal and riveting; marine pipefitting and plumbing; radio mechanics, operating and coding; and pre-service civilian pilot training. A $2.5 million renovation was completed during the 1982-1983 school year, making Ross Collins the largest secondary vocational center in the state.