As executive director of the Georgia Association of Career & Technical Education, Gambill works to further educational opportunities for youth and adult learners throughout the state.
A Bartow County native, Gambill works closely with educators, administrators, legislators and the governor to advocate for career-minded education in Georgia schools.
This week will begin a busy time for the Cartersville High School graduate as he and the staff of GACTE engage with members of the Georgia House and Senate, acting as a voice for career and technical education.
Name: Matthew Gambill
Occupation/Title:Executive Director of the Georgia Association for Career & Technical Education
City of residence:Cartersville
Family: Wife, Danae Roberts Gambill, married for eight years; two children, David and Mary Harris Gambill
Education: Graduate of Cartersville High School; B.A: Political Science from Lee University, Cleveland, Tenn.
What is GACTE?
A: Founded in 1926, the Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education is the largest education association in Georgia dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares students for successful careers. Our membership is composed ofmore than 2,700 middle and high school career, technical and agricultural educators, administrators, researchers, school counselors, technical college faculty, college faculty, business and industry partners and others involved in planning and conducting CTAE programs at the secondary, post-secondary and adult levels.
What led you to a career in technical education?
A: My experience in high school taking graphic arts gave me an appreciation for CTAE programs. This, combined with an opportunity to work directly with the association upon graduation from college, is what led me to my present career.
What is the most rewarding part of your role in state-level policymaking?
A: It is very rewarding for me to see positive outcomes in policy, appropriations and legislation that enhance the success of CTAE programs, ultimately benefitting our students and ensuring that they are both college and career ready. Support from policymakers is critical to our programs across the state, impacting the equipment used by teachers and students in the labs as well as the ability to construct facilities that can accommodate our programs. The career academy initiative is another example of the importance of having a place at the table to help shape constructive policy that will have a lasting impact on our present and future workforce. I encourage our teachers and students to take part in the policymaking process knowing that they are the most important advocates for our programs.
As budget restrictions continue across the state and nation, what are your goals for technical education in Georgia?
A: We have a lot of positive momentum from HB186 (Career Pathways Legislation) that was passed by the legislature two years ago. Also, Gov. Nathan Deal’s Go Build Georgia program has helped to spotlight the importance of CTAE programs in our state. Recently, State Superintendent John Barge was able to implement a new College and Career Readiness Index that replaces Georgia’s Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and adds CTAE course completion to the indicators used to assess a school system’s overall achievement. Our goal will continue to be centered around the advancement of CTAE programs in spite of the budget constraints that exist.
As the legislative session begins, what will the next few months look like for you and your staff?
A: The legislative session begins on Monday, Jan. 14, and will last 40 non-consecutive days. No day is exactly the same and consists of committee meetings, budget hearings and research and advocacy of pending legislation. It is always an incredibly busy time of year for us.
What would you consider your greatest personal or professional achievement?
A: My greatest personal blessings have been my relationship with Jesus Christ, and my wife and children. This past year, I was able to achieve personal health goals of losing 30 pounds and running in several 5k races. I would say that professional achievements have been inclusion in state-wide groups, such as the Leadership Georgia Class of 2010 through the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and recently being honored as one of the “40 Under 40” Best & Brightest, selected by Georgia Trend magazine. These honors have helped to increase awareness of the importance and need for CTAE programs in our state. Just this week, I was asked to serve on Gov. Deal’s Office of Workforce Development “Go Build Georgia” Advisory Council. I am also very blessed to serve on the boards of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Bartow County, Murphy Harpst Children’s Home and Indian Springs Campmeeting.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
A: My mom, Glenda Harris Gambill, was given this advice by my grandfather, Frank Harris, which she passed on to me. “Stay close to God, work hard to develop yourself, be kind and compassionate to everyone, keep a positive attitude, and you will be able to handle anything that life brings to you.”
What would most people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I am a NASCAR fan and regularly attend the Daytona 500 and Talladega Spring race.
Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?
A: On the Vita course at Dellinger Park or the trail at Milam Farm (Sam Smith Park). I also have wonderful memories of driving around the back roads of Bartow County as a child with my grandfather, Frank Harris, and hearing stories about the people that helped to shape our community.
What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
A: Practical, passionate, strong convictions.
If you were not in this line of work, what would you like to do?
A: I would lean toward some type of work in ministry.