After an EF5 tornado destroyed much of Joplin, Huff’s exemplary leadership skills guided the school district community back to a sense of normalcy in record time. He not only resolved to make sure that Joplin schools opened on time this past fall, but he determined to rebuild the district’s schools with a focus on 21st-century learning.
Huff immediately recognized an opportunity to launch the school year without the use of textbooks (because all high school books were destroyed), using a curriculum focused on learning with open educational resources. Closely tied to this strategy was a decision to move to a one-to-one computing initiative, as all 2,200 high school students received MacBooks as their 24-7 learning tools at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year.
An intense professional development plan was implemented during the summer of 2011 to help teachers in their transition. All Joplin teachers went through a minimum of 60 hours of professional development to ensure these ed-tech resources would be used effectively.
Huff also encouraged a pilot program for the 600-student middle school that was destroyed in the storm. The teachers in this middle school now use iPads and the application Doceri to engage their students in classroom instruction and collaboration.