Member Spotlight: Chris Higle
Chris is currently the Chief Technology Officer for Ceres Unified School District and has been overseeing Technology in the district for nearly 12 years. He is also a part of the CITE Central Valley North Regional Group leadership team and a CCTO. Before Ceres, he was the Director of IT for Dos Palos JUSD for about 6 years, a Network Specialist and Analyst with experience both inside and outside of K-12. Working in a small district has been the ultimate training ground, because he's gotten to learn a lot and get exposed to just about everything in IT! He was kind enough to tell us a little bit about himself, his background, and his experience as a CITE member.
How long have you been in your current role and how did you get there?
"I have been a CTO 'officially' for about 18 months. After 24+ years in IT and about 21 of those in K-12, I have realized that there is no greater purpose and calling than to work in this sector. There is a real sense of purpose that you are contributing to something pretty great, the education of students which is the future. I worked in the private sector right out of college, which was not nearly as fulfilling. This sense of purpose and satisfaction is what has kept me around. I am not going to lie, we get to play with some pretty cool tech stuff too."
How long have you been a CITE member? What is your favorite memory from a CITE event?
"I have been a CITE (CETPA) member going on 19 years. My first memory was attending the conference in Santa Barbara in 2004, I believe (might need to fact check me on that). One of my favorite memories from a CITE event was a conference I attended in Monterey. The President's Reception was held in the evening at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and that was very unique and special to experience that."
What do you do in your limited free time?
"Free time is a myth, especially when you are in a leadership role. However, I have figured out you have to work towards balance in your life or you will burn out. In my free time, I go as low-tech as possible unplugging from the world by getting outdoors and clearing my head. Nature is my greatest medicine and therapist. I have also embraced more physical activity into my life, getting more exercise in. As you age, this is no longer optional it's a must-do!"
Are there any special shout outs you'd like to give to someone in your life or the CITE community who has made a special impact on you?
"There are several people that made an impact on me and my career along the way. For starters, my grandfather is the main reason I am where I am today. If he hadn't talked some sense into a floundering young man and pushed me to pursue a path in education I wouldn't be where I am today. He was also a great leader and motivator, I learned a lot from him. My wife has also been a great support along my journey, she is my rock. Professionally, early on in my career, it was Dr. Paul Chounet who gave me a chance to prove myself and I learned a ton from him. He gave me the freedom to expand my knowledge and make mistakes to learn from."
If someone is intimidated or reluctant to get involved with CITE, what advice would you give them?
"I know a lot of us suffer from imposter syndrome at times. However, that's one of the great things about the CITE community. There are a lot of smart people, but many are humble and down-to-earth. People in the community are all learning from one another so you don't need to feel intimidated. Second, you might be reluctant to give up that precious time that we all have (or have a lack of). My advice on this is to contribute where you can. One of the things that makes CITE so great is its member's knowledge and the networking. We all miss out on your ideas and contributions if you stay in the shadows. Sharing is caring! This can also be an outlet you need to take you away from you day-to-day grind for a bit, and gives you something new and interesting to work on. You never know where an idea will come from or where it will lead to."
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