The DNA of Your Community

Posted by Dr. C.J. Huff on September 16, 2016

The genetic makeup of humans gives each of us our uniqueness. Not only do we look and act differently, but we also each possess gifts and abilities that are a direct result of what is in our DNA. How we respond to our environment, our susceptibility to disease, and even our life expectancy is largely dependent upon our genetic makeup. We are also very adaptable. As we become more aware of our own unique strengths and weaknesses, we find ways to compensate for our shortcomings and build on our strengths. That awareness, and our ability to respond, plays a major role in our quality of life and general happiness.

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Topics: Community Resilience, Community Development

Joplin's EF-5 Tornado: 3 Lessons Learned about the Importance of Vision Casting within Crisis

Posted by Dr. C.J. Huff on September 8, 2016

Following Hurricane Katrina, researchers began trying to identify factors that make a community better prepared to respond and rebuild following an unthinkable disaster. After the destruction following the Joplin, MO tornado in May 2011, Joplin became a focal point of this research due to the community’s ability to rally quickly after the storm. It was a point of pride for the citizens of Joplin as people around the world were inspired by the “can do” attitude and resolve of Joplin in the face of a seemingly insurmountable challenge.

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Topics: Joplin's EF-5 Tornado, Community Resilience

Calling All Presidential Hopefuls: How Are U.S. Children Doing?

Posted by Dr. C.J. Huff on August 31, 2016

Now that the 2016 presidential-primary election season has arrived, I offer a homework assignment for our candidates.Many questions will be raised in the coming months. However, in my view, there is one question that supersedes all others because it zeroes in on the heart, values, priorities, and vision that those vying for America's top political office should have.

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Topics: Breaking the Poverty Cycle

Relationships Matter Part 1: Inside the School

Posted by Dr. C.J. Huff on August 23, 2016

It’s that time of year. Schools across the nation are opening their doors to greet millions of students who are a reflection of the future of our country. It’s an exciting time of year that, in my opinion, can be described in one word…fresh.

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Topics: Community Development

A Line in the Sand: When is Enough, Enough?

Posted by Dr. C.J. Huff on August 15, 2016

I recently had the privilege to speak to educators and business people at the North Carolina Conference on Education. This fantastic event was hosted by the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce and attended by a group of education and business professionals who “get it.”

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Topics: Breaking the Poverty Cycle

Joplin's EF-5 Tornado: 2 Lessons about Bringing a Community Together

Posted by Dr. C.J. Huff on August 5, 2016

How often have you seen this scenario play out on a national scale?

A community is faced with a major obstacle and
suddenly becomes either united or divided.

I was in a unique position at the time of the Joplin Tornado to observe and participate in a number of high-level conversations related to the recovery effort. There were certainly a lot of decisions and actions in the early hours and days that set the course for recovery. Each of which had tremendous influence on the coming together of the community that may have separated Joplin’s response from that of other communities who have experienced unexpected tragedy.

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Topics: Joplin's EF-5 Tornado

Bridging the Opportunity Gap: Creating New Opportunities for Children and Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

Posted by Dr. C.J. Huff on July 28, 2016

There is no question a correlation exists between poverty and opportunity. However, what that correlation looks like depends on whom you ask. For some, poverty should not exist because everyone has the same opportunity. After all there are plenty of examples of individuals who have “pulled themselves up from their own bootstraps.” Yet others point to the lack of opportunity as the very reason why the cycle of poverty continues.

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Topics: Breaking the Poverty Cycle

How Faith Based Organizations Can Be a Powerful Resource for Schools

Posted by Dr. C.J. Huff on July 20, 2016

The first amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." The meaning behind those words has been the subject of religious, political and legal debate for centuries. The engagement of churches in schools is often at the center of that debate.

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Topics: Community Development

Joplin's EF-5 Tornado: 1 Lesson I'll Never Unlearn

Posted by Dr. C.J. Huff on July 12, 2016


Three years into my tenure as Superintendent of Joplin Schools, an EF-5 tornado ripped through our town. Packing winds in excess of 200 mph, the Joplin Tornado is one of the most documented and thoroughly studied natural disasters in recent history. The Weather Channel classified the Joplin Tornado as the most costly and the 5 th most devastating tornado in U.S. history. The implications of the research into this event resulted in changes to FEMA policy, school safety protocol, facility design, emergency planning, mental health, community engagement, and communications.

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Topics: Joplin's EF-5 Tornado