In the tornado aftermath, Huff acted decisively to reopen school for the entire district just 87 days later. Among staff, the district motto informally became “Every child, every day, no matter what.”
Although insurance money would cover basic rebuilding of Joplin High School, Huff saw an opportunity for something more — a state-of-the-art facility fit for 21st-century learning. Some residents objected loudly to the expense of an upgraded facility. But Huff persisted, educating the community about why it was so important to the city’s and students’ future.
“He was tireless,” says Carol Stark, editor of the Joplin Globe, calling Huff a man of “principles and morals” who solicits input widely and then “questions whether a decision is the right (one).”
In the case of the contested school bond, the superintendent personally sought out the critics, Stark says. He would call individuals who had written critical letters to the editor in the Joplin Globe and often meet them over coffee. The bond proposal was approved by 46 votes.