William Kovach was an English teacher before he made the transition to career and technical education.
Now, he’s set to become Central Nine Career Center’s next director, and will take over for Nicole Otte, the current director, on July 1. As director, he will oversee the center in Greenwood where 1,201 high school students from nine area schools attend to get training and certifications in industries ranging from construction, to criminal justice, to dentistry.
Kovach originally came into the world of career and technical education, commonly known as CTE, because he realized a liberal arts education might not be what makes every student successful, he said.
“As an English teacher you teach Shakespeare and Mark Twain, but that might not be what you need to teach anymore as you realize students might need content to get them ready for the work world instead of getting them ready for a liberal arts college experience. That’s not what everyone’s going into,” Kovach said.
“I realized through a mentor there’s a better way to teach and educate students. CTE is a way to connect students with opportunities to get into the workforce, expand their career options and get an education.”
Kovach, who had an administrator’s license at the time, got his career and technical education director’s license through Purdue University, later going back to Purdue and getting his doctorate in the field. In 2006, he got his first director position in career and technical education as the director of the Warsaw Area Career Center. He served in the same role at the Elkhart Area Career Center, where he has worked since 2010.
The long-standing reputation of Central Nine as a premier career and technical education center in Indiana is part of what drew him to the position, he said.
“Central Nine was a very successful and very well-known career center, it’s been around for 40-plus years, closer to 50,” Kovach said. “There are many options for students at the junior and senior grade levels of high school and a lot of options for adults.”
Central Nine will not change its course offerings from last year to the coming school year. Any decisions beyond that will be made on a year-to-year basis depending on industry expectations, Kovach said.
As director, Kovach will be in charge of building relationships with staff, students and community partners in order to increase the number of career opportunities for students. One of those relationships will be with Columbus-based engine-maker Cummins, which will soon expand to Greenwood. Greenwood is giving Cummins a $10 million incentive, and part of that is a $1 million grant to Central Nine, which will expand its information technology programs.
Otte and Kovach worked together as part of the Indiana Association of Career and Technical Education Districts and got their director’s licenses at the same time, Otte said.
“I think his work ethic is very strong. I have partnered with him in various committees and organizations,” Otte said.
“He sees the big picture of career and technical education. He’s supportive of the initiatives at Central Nine and I feel he will continue the success we’re building upon.”
One of Kovach’s challenges will be how to deal with an increased interest in career and technical education, especially as high school diploma requirements begin to emphasize trades with Graduation Pathways starting this fall. Central Nine is nearing capacity, and Kovach will have to figure out how to accommodate as many students as possible.
Future options could include expanding the current facility, building a new one or having more offerings at the high schools that send students to Central Nine. That decision would be a collaborative one that he’d work out with administrators at the different high schools, he said.
“I would need to work with the sending schools administrators, the community and the school board to do some research and do a facility study and a program study and look at what the best solution would be if we have to look at expansion,” Kovach said. “It wouldn’t be totally up to me; we would work together for the best solution in the future.”
Kovach is most excited about the chance to connect students with career opportunities in an area just south of Indianapolis, he said.
“The Career Center is very established with a lot of success," he said. Being located near Indy, there’s a lot of opportunity very close by with the connection to business and industry. There’s an opportunity for growth.”