Rep. Matthew Gambill hasn’t been a legislator for two full weeks yet, and he’s already won a state award.
The newly inaugurated state representative from District 15 had barely begun finding his way around the Capitol when he was summoned to the Georgia Department of Education down the street last Thursday for what he thought was a meeting with State School Superintendent Richard Woods.
Instead, he was going there to accept the fourth Superintendent’s Impact Award.
“I was totally surprised by the award and had no idea that Superintendent Woods was planning to recognize me,” Gambill said. “I originally thought I was going to the department to discuss education legislation. When I arrived, my wife [Danae] was there, along with several other friends and colleagues. It was such a humbling moment.”
Gambill, who was inaugurated last week as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, had previously led the Georgia Association for Career and Technical Association, where he advocated for career, technical and agricultural education programs in Georgia.
Woods called the freshman legislator “a great friend” to CTAE programs in the state.
“He understands the impact of these programs on our students’ futures and the health of our state’s workforce and can communicate their value as well as anyone I know,” Woods said in a press release. “Georgia’s CTAE program has seen great success in recent years – including an all-time high graduation rate of 96 percent for career pathway completers – and Matthew has been an integral part of that work. We will miss him as a CTAE leader but look forward to working with him as a member of the General Assembly.”
Gambill, 37, said being honored with the award as a freshman representative “really means a lot, and I will never forget the generosity of Superintendent Woods.”
“I look forward to working with him and the department as we ensure all Georgia students are prepared for the 21st century workforce,” he said. “This is all a part of my vision to help Bartow County be the No. 1 place in northwest Georgia to do business.”
Gambill’s passion for CTAE — also known as vocational education — began developing when he was a student at Cartersville High School, where he took three graphic arts classes from Chuck Cartwright and learned to type in Robin Reeves’ keyboarding class.
“These incredible experiences taught me lifelong skills that I continue to use in my career to this day,” he said. “Even though I went on to earn a college education, I still benefited from having taken these courses. That is the power of CTAE. CTAE is for all students, whether they are going directly to work, completing an apprenticeship, joining the military, completing a certificate program, earning an associate’s degree or a traditional four-year degree.”
In his adult life, Gambill has been involved with the CTAE programs at Cartersville High and serves on its CTAE advisory board.
He’s also worked with the Bartow County College and Career Academy, and he applauds Woodland, Cass and Adairsville high schools for having CTAE programs that do a “great job providing opportunities to our Bartow students.”
Woods presents the Superintendent’s Impact Award to Georgians who are not educators but still make a positive impact on the lives of the state’s schools and students.
Other winners of the award were Rep. Dave Belton, former Rep. Brooks Coleman and Sen. Lindsey Tippins.
“The previous recipients are all excellent legislators who have passed significant education initiatives during their time in the legislature,” Gambill said. “Brooks Coleman, who recently retired from his service, is a good friend of mine. I have known Brooks since my days as an intern to the House Education Committee in 2002. I admire his work, and I am grateful that Superintendent Woods would recognize me with this award and include me with such esteemed legislators.”