Contact Us
© 2023 Association of California School Administrators
Christine Jones ensured equitable access to technology for all students and staff in the Palmdale School District by writing technology into LCAP goals.
Jones makes tech a reality for district’s students
August 21, 2023
ACSA Administrators of the Year graphic.
Name: Christine Jones Award: Technology Administrator of the Year Title: Coordinator of Educational Technology, Palmdale School District ACSA highlights: Member since 2014; presenter, Leadership Summit (2012); Leadership magazine “Preparing New Teachers With Technology” (2017).
When Christine Jones first arrived at Palmdale School District in 2014, students’ connection to technology was spotty at best.
Her first goal was to achieve equitable access for all students and staff. She worked on the LCAP document, writing technology into the goals, thus ensuring the proper funding to allow for the acquisition and maintenance of technology and the professional development required to integrate it into learning.
Realizing students lack devices at home, Jones coordinated efforts to retire older district technologies and then donate the equipment to the Palmdale Educational Foundation. Those devices are then given to families and students for free on request.
As a result of her leadership efforts, today there are STEAM rooms at every school, classrooms are “cord free,” middle schools have robotics electives, and the district is an established leader for student data privacy. District staff, teachers and leaders also enjoy more than 80 unique professional development opportunities each year such as Tech Tuesdays and Chromebook Academies that are developed and led by Jones and her team of coaches.
A recognized leader within the Ed Tech community, Jones continues to build on her deep skillset for the betterment of students in her district.
“She seeks to continually enhance her learning by attending workshops, conferences and webinars,” said MaríaElena Esquer, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services. “Christine is a lifelong learner who keeps abreast of new theories and strategies to enrich instructional expertise. She is an avid reader who seeks to reflect as a practitioner as she develops her leadership skills.”
What is your passion? My true passion is educational technology, and has been since I took my first EdTech course in 1988 as part of a master’s program. Programming a blinking cursor on a tiny green screen to perform an action was addictive, and I could see how my students might become engaged as well. I pioneered all of the early technologies in my classroom and regularly took my students to the tiny computer lab for sessions in Logo. I wrote grants and received seven refurbished desktop computers in my classroom as well as other peripherals. I took additional classes and was the first at my school to adopt email and to have a modem in my classroom. I helped pull wires across our school in 1995 on Net Day, connecting our students in our small community to the larger world. I have embraced each new change of technology with the goal of making a connection between education and technology. I am currently diving headlong into artificial intelligence to understand how it may affect education, and our world.
What’s your favorite book on leadership? My favorite book on leadership really isn’t about leadership at all. The book is called “Drive” by Daniel Pink, and I have read it several times. He speaks to three critical components for everyone’s work — Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Pink explains how extrinsic incentives can really backfire and actually create conditions for poorer performance overall. Each time I reread this book it reminds me that once you know what motivates people, you, as a leader, can work to give your people what they need to be successful, productive and happy in their work.
What is the best advice you have been given? The best advice I have ever been given has not really been advice — rather it was a meme. It said, “The voice you will hear the most in your life is the one inside your head. Make sure it is kind.” This led me to address that sometimes-critical voice in my head. I believe that positive self-talk is necessary for a happy existence. Everyone will be told by others what they are doing wrong. I have learned to accept the criticism as a way to grow, then use my inner voice to emphasize what is right so that I can create a more positive stance moving forward.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? People would be surprised to know that I am a fairly good seamstress. I am currently making my daughter’s wedding dress. I also enjoy being a “maker,” which involves creating new things or repurposing old things. I have refinished furniture, painted landscapes, thrown clay pots, dabbled in photography and coded robots. And I perform occasionally on stage. I have a current role in a community theatre production of “Sister Act” as the Mother Superior. All of these things are creative. I believe we need to do more in schools to feed the creative side of all human beings to ensure we are addressing the whole person. It’s critical for student engagement. This is why I have been a champion of Maker Spaces in our district.
What made you want to become a school administrator? My path to leadership has been circuitous. I never really aspired to be an administrator. I was content to be a classroom teacher, having a direct effect on my wonderful students. But after 14 years in the classroom and a year as an interim principal, I was approached by leadership at the Los Angeles County Office of Education to become part of the California Technology Assistance Project. It was a difficult decision, but I accepted the job which launched a career into leadership and professional development. After 14 years with LACOE/CTAP I decided to join Palmdale School District so that I could apply all of the incredible knowledge I had acquired over the years. I am still seeking to master my work. I am lucky enough to be in a district that encourages personal growth so that I may continue my journey.
How has ACSA supported you in your current position? ACSA has been a wonderful resource for me on my leadership journey. I especially have appreciated the leadership events and symposiums, both local and statewide, as a way to learn new things and to connect with other professionals in my field. Our local events have helped to build camaraderie and community amongst local leaders, and they have provided high quality training and information for us to learn from each other — a valuable resource.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their leadership journey? For anyone just starting a journey of leadership my advice would be, “You do you!” Don’t try to emulate anyone else, and don’t think you can do it all. You can’t. Do what you can, when you can. Take time for self-care. Nurture your family and your personal relationships as well as the professional ones. Find a mentor. Ask them deep questions and learn from them. And when you finally make it, don’t forget to give back. Mentor someone else to maintain the chain of leadership and growth.
What are you most proud of accomplishing? I am really proud of so many of my accomplishments related to my work. I taught hundreds of fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students and had wonderful relationships with them. I have created and delivered content to thousands of teachers over the years, which I hope has had a positive effect on students. I created an educational technology program from the ground up at Palmdale School District, a program that continues to grow and thrive, challenging our teachers and administrators to move forward constantly. I was given the opportunity to keynote a conference at the University of Lima, Peru on ransomware. I persist in seeking access to technologies and the internet for our students and community so that everyone has equal access. But I am most proud of successfully raising three beautiful children and maintaining a loving and lasting relationship with my husband and my faith. I can only hope that what I have given in my service to others has been enough to create a positive change in my community.
Jones gives a keynote on ransomware at the University of Lima, Peru.
2023 Technology Administrator of the Year Christine Jones.
2023 Technology Administrator of the Year Christine Jones.