Tuesday, September 16, 2014

C. J. Huff: On opening day, I went to JHS at 3 a.m. and helped the custodians

Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff is not limiting his blogging to the school district website. The following post appeared on the We Are Joplin blog, which according to what is written on the website is supported by the City of Joplin - Empire District Electric Company - Freeman Health System - Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce - Joplin Schools - Mercy Hospital Joplin - Missouri Southern State University  and Wallace Bajjali Development Partners.

In it, he tells his story about how the Joplin R-8 School District managed to get the "mission accomplished" and open Joplin High School Tuesday, September 2:

On Monday evening, September 1, I had a hard time getting to sleep. Like the night before any big event, I felt excited and anxious. But, this wasn’t any event. This was the finish line in a more than three-year journey for our staff, students, parents, and community. I know I wasn’t the only one tossing and turning in anticipation of this moment, the official opening of the new Joplin High School and Franklin Technology Center. I couldn’t sleep and finally gave in to my desire to be at the school. So at 3 a.m. I got out of bed and headed that way to check on the building after a rough night of storms and to help custodial crews who had been working hard all night in preparation for the big day. By 6:45 a.m., students and staff began filtering into the new building, and I began to hear the familiar sounds of a normal school day – voices and laughter in the hallways, zippers opening and closing on backpacks, computers logging in.

Normal. It’s is a word we’ve been working toward since that terrible day in May 2011. In the days following the tornado, we made a promise to build back bigger, better, safer schools and, more importantly, to bring our Eagles home. At the time, we couldn’t imagine how critical and difficult it would be to keep that promise. These last three years have been challenging, thrilling, exhausting, and at times heartbreaking for our staff, students, parents, and community. Not only did we work to physically rebuild our schools, we also worked to turn our community’s vision for better teaching and learning into reality. 

With your help and the help of people from around the world, we hit a milestone this January when we opened the new Irving Elementary, Soaring Heights Elementary, and East Middle School. And, this last Tuesday, September 2, we were able to say “mission accomplished” as more than 2,200 Joplin Eagles came together under one roof for their first day in their new high school and technical school and their first day together in more than three years. The most wonderful thing about the day was how normal it felt. Outside of a few local reporters sharing in the excitement and some first-day (and rainy day) traffic and parking challenges, the day seemed like so many other first days back at high school: new outfits, old friends, nervous freshmen, and helpful teachers and principals.

As familiar as the day felt, there’s no question that this school and the education taking place within it are different. The new JHS/FTC combines a rigorous curriculum with over 60 advanced placement, dual credit, or honors courses along with an integrated career and technical education focus. Students can choose from five broad career paths and numerous opportunities within each path, allowing them to explore their interests and passions while at the same time getting the full high school experience, an experience that includes more than 100 co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.

While the last three years seem like that have been long, it’s truly miraculous that so much has been accomplished in such a short amount of time. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of a committed staff of professional educators and a community that loves its children, the rich history of Joplin Schools lives on within the walls of our new and existing schools. On September 2, 2014, our community celebrated a mission accomplished and the homecoming of all our Joplin Eagles. Now it’s time for a new era for Joplin Schools. The best is yet to come!


Anonymous said...

I'm sure the custodians were thrilled to have him there in their way...I mean, helping.

For the purpose of his speaking engagements, this story will evolve into how CJ led and inspired the custodial staff to spit-polish the entire high school in the days prior to opening day.

Anonymous said...

And for the grand opening of the large gym last night they asked for volunteers to clean the bleachers prior to the game. Huff showed with NO dust rag in hand, he just supervised our hard work.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's a different kind of education for sure. No books, no Internet, no paper. Total epic fail. Explains your sucky scores.
Then, there's the butt ugly gym, the toilets that don't flush, the sinks that don't work, the roofs that leak and the water that comes up in the floor when it rains, the list is endless.

Makes me glad for old schools.

Anonymous said...

All this talk about different learning is BS. Kids have always taken the classes they are interested in. There's nothing new here but you have more classes to offer than you have teachers to run them. But that doesn't matter because they don't have enough classrooms for them anyway. Mine takes a class in the hallway where they can listen to everyone go to the bathroom, flush, and dry their hands. Over and over again. So far he's learned nothing there.

Anonymous said...

The mission is NOT accomplished!
The building is NOT finished.
Many of the staff who started this journey are NOT here anymore.
The teaching and learning are NOT better.
R8 is NOT a good place to be.

Anonymous said...

C.J., it was a dream. You were tired, anxious and hallucinating again. Now quit making things up and get a good nights sleep, Joe and Arnie are soon.