April 10, 2016

Danny Christner, Board President

It’s easy to casually use the expression, “heart and soul” when describing the degree to which you care about something important. However, when it comes to Jenks Public Schools, Danny Christner embodies what it truly means to put your heart and soul into a cause that matters.

Danny’s connection to Jenks Public Schools stems back to his Oklahoma roots. Born and raised in Tulsa, Danny attended Broken Arrow High School, which was the time when he first became familiar with the Jenks Public Schools district. Later in life, after attending Oklahoma State University to study finance, establishing a successful business with his brother and father (John Christner Trucking), and starting a family in midtown Tulsa, Danny was drawn to the call of suburban life in the close-knit community of Jenks. The decision to answer the call and relocate was a decision that instantly provided Danny with a sense of “coming home.”

“Oklahoma is not a major market filled with big cities,” says Danny. “Jenks is a suburban environment where people are very involved and it’s a community I feel comfortable in. It’s a smaller pond where small changes can have a big impact.”

One area of impact that became immediately apparent to Danny was the Jenks Public Schools District. As the father of a 23-year old son who had graduated from Jenks High School, an 8th grade son, a 3rd grade son, and twin 5th grade girls (all currently attending Jenks Public Schools), Danny became well-acquainted with the Jenks Public Schools District and soon discovered avenues where he could become increasingly involved in his children’s education and the community at large.

However, it was not until he joined the Jenks Public Schools Foundation Board of Directors that he truly discovered what it meant to put his heart and soul into the school system that had come to mean so much to his family.

In 2011, Danny was encouraged to join the Board by Oklahoma State School Superintendent Joy Hofmeister (at the time the CEO of Kumon Math & Reading Centers of South Tulsa), who expressed confidence in Danny’s ability to provide input on important Foundation matters.

Danny accepted the invitation and immediately charged ahead full-throttle. In 2012, he and his wife, Stephanie launched the Hands On Initiative—a program created to raise funds and reduce class sizes in the Jenks Public Schools District, primarily in the elementary and intermediate schools. Paving the way with a historic $1 million donation, the Christners partnered with other dedicated parents and community members to raise over $1.1 million for the Hands On Campaign.

For Danny and the Jenks Public Schools Foundation, 2012 was a big year—but it was only the beginning.

Danny soon became involved in the STEM initiatives at Jenks Public Schools by making a $500,000 donation to facilitate the launch of STEM labs at Jenks East Intermediate (set to open in the fall of 2016) and Jenks West Intermediate (scheduled to open in 2017). Rather than writing a check and moving on to the next initiative, Danny increased his involvement in the STEM labs and began community outreach to raise matching funds in order to bring the STEM experience to life for all students in the Jenks Public Schools District.

“5th through 9th grade is such a critical time for development and finding interests in STEM,” says Danny. “If a kid can get traction and find interest at that time, then they might continue to take those same classes in high school and college. It’s something that has lasting value.”

Danny’s level of involvement and dedication to his role as a Board member did not go unnoticed. Board President Stephanie Cipolla approached Danny with an invitation to serve as Vice President of the Board—a role that inspired Danny to attend school finance classes and develop strategic solutions to areas of need within the Jenks Public Schools system. Danny’s leadership role within the Board was a perfect fit and naturally progressed to his election as Board President in January 2016.

Although Danny now balances the responsibilities and time commitments that come with being the JPSF Board President, Chief Operating Officer at John Christner Trucking, active member of two other community Board committees, husband, and father of five children, he knows that this is exactly where he’s meant to be to have the greatest impact within the community.

“Three years ago I wouldn’t have been ready to be president, but now I am,” says Danny. “Because of my years of involvement, I’ve met so many great, new, wonderful families and kids, district employees, and educators I didn’t know before. I’ve seen their commitment and involvement and they’ve seen mine, so there’s a sense of mutual appreciation. I want what’s best for the kids and work alongside other people who do. Because of this evolution, I don’t feel overwhelmed or anxious about being president—I feel that this is where I’m supposed to be and I can do it.”

During his ongoing two-year tenure as Board President, Danny hopes to build momentum and inspire parents, businesses, and community members to consider contributing to the school district that has such a pivotal role in making Jenks a vibrant, growing community.

“Jenks is a great public district,” says Danny. “It has incredible facilities, great outcomes, and a vision of excellence that includes athletics, academics, AP courses, immersion programs, extracurricular activities, and the arts. All these things make Jenks a great district…and you get it all for free. It’s something people overlook sometimes. When you have this incredible organization, facilities, and outcomes, why wouldn’t you want to give and help it become better? When you give, you become more involved and you help make a great district even greater, which makes our community stronger—it’s a win-win situation. People have the capacity to give to the Foundation and contribute to our mission and we hope that they will consider that. In my role, I hope that I can help foster that.”

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