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Christine Gardner

Executive Director

Christine Gardner, MBA, has been the executive director of Ohio ACTE since the fall of 2006.  Prior to that, she served in a leadership capacity at statewide associations and a national non-profit organization.

Gardner has been a part time adult instructor, both in-person and online for more than 10 years.  She has conducted resume writing and job interview skills workshops and one-on-one tutoring on job search strategies.  She has presented at an international conference on how educators can help students successfully navigate their first job, and has conducted several professional development presentations on effective communication, marketing programs and other topics in the United States. 

She graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in journalism and a Master’s of Business Administration from Franklin University, in Columbus, Ohio.

She lives in Galena, Ohio, with her husband, and has one adult daughter. 

  • May 01, 2017 10:52 AM | Ohio ACTE (Administrator)

    - by Christine Gardner, Ohio ACTE Executive Director

    Who values credentials? 

    Students, employers, the public and educators are all concerned with credentials, but for different reasons.  The value each of these groups place on credentials varies, depending on many different factors.  That is what makes the conversation about credentials and how they contribute to education so challenging.

    In all the talk about credentials, it occurred to me that one of the important parts of the discussion is the meaning of credentials.  The thoughts behind the word  “credential” varies depending on whether you are an employer, educator or student  as well as the public, including parents.

    What is a credential?

    Most people recognize that a credential is a license – issued by a government agency or a program administered by an industry/professional group.  For example, under the Human Services Career Pathway on ODE’s web site, the Ohio State Board of Cosmetology license is an approved credential toward graduation.  This is a clear-cut (no pun intended!) example of a credential necessary to practice a craft.  Who has not seen the license of the cosmetologist clearly and proudly (and also legally) displayed when getting a haircut?   When I get my hair styled, I know that the person cutting my hair has met the standards of the license.  So why do I so carefully choose to whom I am going to entrust my locks if I know everyone who practices this trade must be licensed?  That is the nuance of credentials and why there is so much debate about the value of them.  Is a credential a minimum standard, a baseline or a signal that you have accomplished something and are able to complete a goal?

    Another not-so-cut and dry example  of a credential is the Manufacturing Career Pathway.  ODE’s Web site lists the NIMS (National Institute of Manufacturing) Machining Level Certification 1 as one industry recognized credential.  This certification program has been developed and is administered by the National Institute of Manufacturing (NIM).  According to NIM’s Web site, they describe their organization as: “The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) was formed in 1994 by the metalworking trade associations to develop and maintain a globally competitive workforce. NIMS sets skills standards for the industry, certifies individual skills against the standards and accredits training programs that meet NIMS quality requirements.”

    These two examples are meant to illustrate that the value of a credential depends on whether you are an employer, the public or a student.  A credential for some careers is not necessarily a threshold to  getting a job unless the employer says so, although it could give a potential employee an advantage over another depending on the emphasis the employer puts on a credential.   I would also add that in my opinion completing a career-technical program represents a “credential,” because the student has not only completed academic requirements, but coursework, hands on practice and work experience in order to meet the requirements of the career-tech program.  For example, obtaining a 12 point ODE recognized credential is one of the pathways to graduation.  It is not the easiest pathway, as students who graduate from career-technical programs are also prepared academically for higher education.

    The crux of the credential debate in education appears to be whether or not an employer values a particular credential, giving added incentive to the career-technical educator to instruct, teach and encourage students to obtain a particular credential.   So who values credentials?  All of us, but for different reasons.  Therefore, it makes sense that career-technical programs, students, employers and ODE should consider all of the different viewpoints on credentials and consider whether it is a valid measure of success for students and career-technical programs based on the value placed on a credential.


    For more information on credentials, including the impact on the Career Technical Education Report Card, visit the following ODE resources:

  • March 08, 2017 10:18 AM | Ohio ACTE (Administrator)

    Every two years, the State of Ohio puts together its biennium budget. It basically outlines how the State will spend its resources.  Governor Kasich’s $144.3 billion two-year proposed budget was released in January and has already begun down the path to an approved state budget by June 30.

    To those who have never followed it (and sometimes to those who have!), the state budget process can be a mystery.  Who makes the decisions on how Ohio’s state dollars are spent?  How do we get the final approved budget? Finally, why should career-tech educators care about the process?

    The first time I ever saw a state budget recommendation (many years ago), my expectation was that it would be an excel spreadsheet filled with numbers; but that is not the case.  It is a piece of legislation that outlines initiatives, — some of these initiatives are even “budget neutral” because they don’t have any dollars/expenditures attached to them.  It is the budget bill that is the legislative vehicle to get the initiatives passed.

    There are also oh-so-unpopular items in the budget called “unfunded mandates” in the budget.  This means there are activities being proposed with no funding attached.  A good example in this year’s budget is the proposed requirement that colleges cover the majority of the cost of textbooks…an extra cost usually paid by students.

    Following is a very simplified version of the process that leads to budget development.  There is much more that goes into the budget discussions/process, but this should provide a good overview:

    Step 1 – The Governor’s Budget Proposal

    The Governor outlines his administration’s spending plan for the next two years.  Just like a personal or family budget, he looks at revenue and savings (rainy day) and applies an overall budget philosophy.  For example, many of us don’t like to dip into our savings, but others say “that’s what it is there for.” The final budget must by law be approved by June 30, effective July 1 - Click here to see the Gov. Kasich’s summary of education funding in this year’s budget.

    Gov. Kasich’s budget recommendations also include projects/programs that are important to addressing workforce development challenges, social programs and other important initiatives to keep Ohio progressing.

    Step 2 – The General Assembly

    The Ohio House of Representatives Finance Committee, chaired by Ryan Smith, and the Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education, chaired by Robert Cupp, review provisions in the budget and make recommendations/changes to the Governor’s proposed budget.  The Budget becomes a piece of legislation and is assigned a House Bill number – this is why it is often referred to as House Bill X”

    You would think this is when Ohio ACTE starts its advocacy action, but in reality, Ohio ACTE legislative counsel Terrence O’Donnell and Will Vorys of the Dickinson Wright Law firm and I meet regularly with staff at ODE, ODHE, the Director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation and legislators to make sure career-tech ed is a consideration in all conversations regarding workforce development and education.  Ohio ACTE officer and other career-tech educators are also part of these conversations, offering perspective from an educator’s and administrator’s point of view.  We all work with ODE and ODHE to make sure we understand the proposals and are working together for career-tech ed.

    For career-tech (and education in general) the heart of the budget is the funding formula.  Since I have been Executive Director of Ohio ACTE (10 years), each biennium, there have been changes to the funding formula.  Because of how education in Ohio is funded, for many schools, the state budget portion makes up the bulk of their funds.  For career-tech, there are “weighted funds” meaning additional funds that are used to cover the cost of equipment or other costs associated.

    Will and Terrence set up meetings with key legislators and members of ODE staff involved in the budget process.  This is where Ohio ACTE leadership and career-tech educators help get the career-tech message across to our lawmakers.  Often, educators attend meetings, give testimony in legislative hearings, make presentations at finance committee meetings or answers questions that come up at any of the meetings.

    Once the House of Representatives makes its recommendations and proposed changes, the next version or the “House Version” of the budget goes to the Senate.  The same process takes place in the Senate, as our Ohio Senators review the House’s budget and make changes/recommendations. The Senate Finance Committee is chaired by Scott Oelslager.  This is the opportunity for the Senate to make changes to the budget recommended by the House as well as have its own input.

    After the Senate has passed and agreed on its changes, this new “Senate version” is compared to the House version and changes negotiated until one final version emerges.

    Step 3 - Implementation

    Finally, the budget is passed, and sent to the Governor for his signature.  Once passed, the process of implementing the budget provisions begins.  Often, that entails schools changing processes and procedures, implementing new programs or reallocating funds.

    With any new initiatives, there are questions about how schools should comply with changes, new policies and procedures.  In the case of career-tech ed, our ODE Office of CTE helps educators understand, prepare for and implement changes.  There are also other changes that impact all educators.

    All career-tech educators should care about the budget and understand that it’s the funding decisions that impact whether career-tech education is growing and meeting the needs of students in the state of Ohio. While funding for education might increase, it could be directed toward specific activities.  By understanding the budget, you understand the philosophy of our state and government officials and what they see as important to Ohio’s success and progress and where education, especially career-tech, fits into the plans for Ohio’s future.

  • February 01, 2017 8:19 AM | Ohio ACTE (Administrator)

    by Christine Gardner, Ohio ACTE Executive Director

    Not long ago, I heard the phrase “students stumble into career-tech ed.” 

    Every day, Ohio career-tech educators serve about 120,000 students or roughly 25% of all high school students in Ohio.  These students chose a career-tech path or “stumbled into cte” – a phrase I just heard recently.

    I asked a student yesterday how she got interested in her program and she said it was through a visit to the program.  She didn’t know what possibilities existed.  She wanted to be a designer and never heard of landscape design.  Now she’s learning science, completed an internship at a metro park last summer and is excited about her future.  A future she has “stumbled into.”

    I am convinced that a lot of things in life we just “stumble into,” but what if those things were never put in front of us to stumble over?  It’s pre-conceived ideas and stereotypes that often keep students from looking into career-tech ed as a path to their future.  It’s leaving their schools and friends and making the decision to embark on a different path.   It’s parents who remember the bus that went to the JVSD carrying those kids who were not going to college.

    From my observation, I do believe there is a quiet revolution going on in career-tech, and it’s being led by students.  Brave students who choose the career-tech path, when maybe their parents don’t want them to, or their friends are not going down the same path.  Or maybe they just stumbled into a career tech program.  For all those students, it makes a difference.

    Poetry is one of my loves.  I collect lines of poems and am drawn to songs that have lyrics like poetry, I write poems.  The following well – known passage from Robert Frost can be applied to many life decisions, but when I read it, I think of the students who have chosen – or stumbled into – career tech education.

    I shall be telling this with a sigh

    Somewhere ages and ages hence:

    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

    I took the one less traveled by,

    And that has made all the difference.

    • -          Robert Frost

  • January 10, 2017 9:02 AM | Ohio ACTE (Administrator)

    2017 marks the beginning of my 10th year as Ohio ACTE Executive Director.  Ohio ACTE has officially existed for 61 years, and I have been lucky enough to have served as executive director for 10 of those years.  That’s about one-sixth of the Ohio ACTE history, not much, in the whole history of the organization.  There are many people that I have known since my first day on the job and many more that I have met in the years since. There are friends, now retired, or moved, and sadly, there are also CTE educators that have passed on, that I was privileged to know for a short time. 

    The mission, vision and purpose of Ohio ACTE guides the organization, but without the people behind those words – current officers and past presidents, officers and leaders of Ohio ACTE and its divisions – there would not be any programs, progress or pride in Ohio ACTE and career-tech. 

    I remember my first few months as Ohio ACTE executive director and the old office on Sinclair Road. I remember my first meeting/presentation with the Trade and Industrial Supervisors (OTIESA).  I remember being nervous and excited at the same time.

    As time went on, I remember thinking how lucky I was to be surrounded by so many great educators who answered all my questions, volunteered their time and shared their leadership by serving as Ohio ACTE President, officer, division leader or helped with the conference or served in any other capacity.  I was also extremely lucky to have served as Ohio ACTE executive director after Dr. Darrell Parks held the position, because he provided a strong foundation consisting of a credible organization and most importantly, dedicated members.  I still count on Dr. Parks and the knowledge and insight he continues to share with me…sometimes it’s through the book he co-authored with the late Dr. Byrl Shoemaker, "The History of Vocational Education in Ohio".

    In my time with Ohio ACTE, there have been about five career-tech directors at ODE, four state superintendents and numerous legislators whose terms ended - Partners in helping to further the goals of education and career-technical education in Ohio.  Since 2010, we have partnered with our legislative counsel, Terrence O’Donnell, and his colleagues, to make sure career-tech is part of the legislative conversation about education.  Through our school leaders, we have cultivated relationships with our legislators and regulators, so that career-tech education is included and most importantly, recognized for its role in Ohio’s system of public education.

    If you are a new member to Ohio ACTE, new to the career-tech community, you are now part of a great organization made up of dedicated leaders and educators.  If you have been a part of the CTE community in Ohio, then thank you for your dedication and remaining a part of our great, growing, changing and progressing organization.

    If you are not a member, or your membership has lapsed, please show your commitment to career-technical education by joining/renewing.  The organization needs your support in order to continue meaningfully providing CTE opportunities for students.

    Ohio ACTE is made of members and leaders who believe in the mission, vision, and purposes of career-tech and are dedicated to continuing to provide opportunities for students.  I am proud to be one of them. 

    Christine Gardner, Ohio ACTE Executive Director

Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education

38 Commerce Park Dr. Suite D, Westerville, Ohio
(614) 890-ACTE (2283)
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