C.J. Huff is a speaker working with Kirkland Productions through Safe & Sound Schools.
Dr. C.J Huff is an educator with 19 years of experience as a classroom teacher, building principal and superintendent of schools. During his tenure as the superintendent of schools in Joplin, MO an EF-5 tornado with winds exceeding 200 mph devastated his community on May 22, 2011. In just 32 minutes this monstrous storm killed 161 community members including seven of his students and a staff member. 10 of the 19 schools in his district were damaged or destroyed. In the days, months, and years that followed, Dr. Huff was responsible for leading the 7,747 students and 1,200 employees of Joplin Schools through the many unforeseen challenges following the disaster.
Retiring from Joplin Schools in July 2015, C.J.'s passion for children, youth, and schools is focused on his work as the founder of the national not-for-profit BrightFuturesUSA.Org; working with over 70 communities across the nation to build local leadership and resource capacity to improve academic and life outcomes for over 250,000 children and youth. Additionally, given his experience in disaster response and recovery, he also serves as a Senior Advisor to the national not-for-profit SafeandSoundSchools.Org and as an instructor for Louisiana State University’s NCBRT Academy of Counter-Terrorist Education supporting schools and communities in preparedness, response and recovery efforts related to natural and manmade threats and hazards.
C.J. has received numerous awards and recognition for his leadership and vision including being recognized by People magazine as a “Hero Among Us,” Missouri Superintendent of the Year, finalist for the AASA’s National Superintendent of the Year, and recipient of the National School Public Relations Association’s Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communication’s award.
Community Engagement 2.0: A Whole Community Approach to Educating Our Children
In this 1-hour keynote, Dr. Huff will share an inspirational message of hope and provide proven strategies to engage your school community's "time, talent and treasure" to:
Create integrated systems of community support to meet any child's needs within 24 hours
Grow circles of influence to build community leadership and resource capacity
Give kids a chance to give back to their community in an intentional effort to grow a generation of children who clearly understand the ideal of service above self.
Our noble purpose as educators is not about test scores and should not be impacted by the politics of our time. Our noble purpose begins with good people coming together, finding common ground in our children, and working together to create new opportunities for children today that didn't exist yesterday. (Audience: All)
*This presentation can also be a 3-hour interactive workshop.
School Safety: Students First
This presentation, offered by several of our speakers and educators, is designed with students in mind. On our website, we offer a complimentary download of our Safe and Sound Youth Council Kit. This guide is designed to help 6th – 12th grade students, their parents, and their advisors take the first steps toward being a proactive part of the their school’s safety plan. For those schools and school districts who want to take the extra step, Safe and Sound Schools offers speakers who can assist in guidance and implementation, help launch the program, lead site walk-throughs, and ensure that you have all of the tools you need to institute safe school principles for all students. Each program is customized to the unique needs of that school’s community. Our presenters share their personal stories followed by a powerful call to action directing the youth of our nation to step up for school safety. As leaders and problem-solvers in their own right, our next generation is essential to our mission: safe and sound schools for all.
May 22, 2011—it was graduation day for over 400 seniors at Joplin High School. A day of great celebration. But Mother Nature had other plans. At 5:41pm a deadly EF-5 tornado touched down on the west side of Joplin destroying everything in its path. In times of crisis, real leaders step up. In this keynote Dr. Huff will provide a detailed accounting of the response and recovery of Joplin Schools following the most costly tornado in US History. His emotional and inspirational message highlights the importance of community-wide leadership, teamwork and a consistent focus on what’s best for children - no matter what. (Audience: All)
Crisis Happens: Lessons Learned the Hard Way
Crisis happens. In this 1 hr. keynote, Dr. Huff highlights lessons learned that are applicable to not just natural disasters, but also day-to-day crisis that often have devastating impacts on organizations. His key points highlight leadership examples and provide clear strategies around lessons learned regarding internal/external communications, development of pre-need relationships as well as effective leadership behaviors and leader self-care that are applicable to any challenge. This keynote is designed for today’s modern leader interested in creating a better prepared and more resilient leadership team and organization. (Audience: Leaders and Aspiring Leaders)
After all, a lot of you could’ve spent your senior year scattered throughout different schools, far from home. But Dr. Huff asked everyone to pitch in so that school started on time, right here in Joplin. He understood the power of this community, and the power of place.