And the goal the district provided was Dr. Huff's public assertion that the Joplin public schools would open on time, 87 days after the tragedy. This goal engaged the entire community and helped focus the recovery efforts of everyone in the town.
The importance of a goal and symbolism — a countdown clock was placed in a prominent place in the temporary district headquarters to remind everyone of how much time was left to meet the stated goal — was emphasized by Dr. Huff, as was the importance of engaging all the members of the community in the district's rebuilding. That relationships matter was core to the district response and in a follow up session at the conference, Huff detailed how those relationships had been solidified well before the tornado invaded the town, thus making it easier to reach out and mobilize people quickly in the emergency.
We're all living with the reality that public education is under attack, but education heroes like C.J. Huff give us strategies for addressing that attack. As he stated, in most cases public education is misunderstood. It's our job as professional educators to involve our community in our work; make them partners in our efforts; and increase their understanding of the complicated, nuanced nature of what we all do. Joplin public schools story is one of people, resiliency, determination and hope. It is one that should inspire all of us to lead our schools and districts in a way that brings disparate parts of the community to the action before a tornado strikes.
Friday, July 13, 2012
Huff speech highlight at National School Public Relations seminar
the highlight of the recent National School Public Relations Association seminar in Chicago this week. The following passage is taken from a blog post written by Cheryl S. Williams, executive director of Learning First Alliance.