Dr. C.J. Huff currently serves as the superintendent of Joplin Schools, a position he has held since July 2008. He is the proud father of three children and has been married to his best friend, Jennifer, for 15 years.
A native of McCune, Kansas, Huff earned his Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Pittsburg State University, his Master and Specialist in education from Missouri State University. Most recently he earned his Doctorate in education with a focus in educational leadership from the University of Arkansas in 2003.
His wide range of experiences as a classroom teacher, building principal, superintendent and a family farmer prepared him to lead his district of 1,100 employees and 7,700 students through the recovery effort that has followed the devastating Sunday, May 22, 2011 tornado that ripped through the heart of Joplin. Graduation ceremonies for Joplins Class of 2011 had just concluded at Missouri Southern State University when the tornado struck around 5:41 p.m. destroying or damaging 10 of the 19 buildings in Huffs district including the high school and leaving over half of his students without a school to return to on Monday, May 23. The Joplin Schools family suffered loss more precious than the buildings though as they lost a staff member and seven students to the storm.
Huffs declaration that We will start school on time is credited with being a key factor that drew the community of Joplin together just days after the tornado and provided a positive light for the country to rally around in the midst of such tragedy and destruction. To find and create learning space for 4,200 kids54 percent of the districtin 12 weeks was a daunting task. Somebody told me it couldnt be done, said Huff, which is all it took to get me going. On August 17, 2011 Joplins 7,700 students started the new school year on time. On May 21, 2012just one day shy of the one year anniversary of the devastating tornadoPresident Barack Obama delivered the high school graduation commencement address.
Huff is well-respected by the community and his peers as a man of vision and a man that keeps his word. People magazine named him as one of their 2011 Heroes Among Us. Other recognitions include the 2013 Missouri Superintendent of the Year award, one of four finalists for the 2013 National Superintendent of the Year award, 2012 Missouri National Education Association Horace Mann Award, National School Public Relations Associations Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award, eSchool News 2012 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Award, Missouri Association of School Administrators 2012 Pearce Award, Missouri School Public Relations Association 2012 Administrator of the Year and the 2011 American School Board Journal Magna Award/Grand Prize Winner for Joplins Bright Futures initiative focusing on community engagement and drop-out prevention.
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