Dr. C.J. Huff is the retired superintendent of Joplin Schools. His experiences as a superintendent, principal, teacher, and farmer all helped prepare him for the formidable responsibility of leading Joplin Schools through an unexpected disaster recovery effort.
At 5:41 p.m. on May 22, 2011, less than an hour after the completion of graduation ceremonies, an EF-5 tornado with winds in excess of 100 mph ripped through the heart of Joplin. As a result, six of his schools were destroyed and four others were damaged. Most tragically 161 members of the Joplin community suddenly lost their lives in the disaster including 7 of his students and a staff member.
Within 48 hours of the aftermath of the costliest tornado in U.S. History, now known as “The Joplin Tornado,” Dr. Huff and his team of educators promised to reopen schools on time on August 17, 2011 – just 87 days after the disaster. The school community of Joplin immediately got behind the effort. With a constant focus on what was best for kids, the end result of that commitment was making good on that promise.
As a speaker, C.J. tells his inspirational story of tragedy and triumph with humor, emotion, and sincerity. C.J. has been recognized by People’s Magazine as a “Hero Among Us” and was named the Missouri Superintendent of the year in 2012 and one of four finalists for the National Superintendent of the Year in 2013. C.J. currently serves as a Subject Matter Expert for the U.S. Department of Education and as a consultant for the not-for-profit organization Bright Futures USA. His passion for kids and community engagement remains steadfast through his on-going work with both of these organizations.
Leading in Crisis: The Joplin Schools Story
Dr. C.J. Huff shares his story of tragedy and triumph as he led Joplin Schools through the response and recovery effort following the most costly tornado in U.S. history that hit the community of Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011. The content of this presentation is both emotional and inspirational. Filled with wit and wisdom, he shares his journey and the leadership lessons learned from his very personal experience. (Approximately 60 minutes)
When the World Comes Crashing Down
In this presentation, Dr. C.J. Huff shares his lessons learned from a leadership and holistic perspective. His insights into the basic, social, and emotional needs of a community following disaster are invaluable in the development of emergency preparedness plans to building more resilient communities. (Approximately 60 minutes)
On Common Ground
As communities across the country grapple with the challenges faced by today’s youth, Dr. Huff provides a fresh look at community engagement strategies that work. As a community engagement consultant for the not-for-profit organization Bright Futures USA, C.J. works with over 50 communities across the nation in developing grassroots systems to support schools and youth. His presentation is both inspiring and practical leaving participants with a desire and more importantly a framework to take action.
Keynote: Approximately 60 minutes
Workshop: 2 hours
Full Training: 4 hours
Question and Answer or Panel Discussions (In Person or Virtually)
Dr. Huff is available for Q&A sessions and panel discussions. Whether in person or virtually, C.J. can speak to a variety of topics related to leadership, community engagement, disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.