JOPLIN, Mo. —
C.J. Huff, superintendent of the Joplin School District, is one of four finalists to be nominated for the 2013 National Superintendent of the Year award by the American Association of School Administrators.
The finalists were selected from 49 state-level winners.
The program honors the leadership and contributions to education of public school superintendents. The association will announce the winner on Feb. 21 at the National Conference on Education in Los Angeles.
In an email statement Thursday night, Huff said: “I’m honored to be representing the Joplin schools and the state of Missouri as a finalist. I couldn’t be more proud of the work we have done together as a school community to improve the quality of education for our kids in Joplin. We’ve stayed the course under some very trying circumstances.
“I have been saying for a long time that if we continue to do the right things for the right reasons, good things will happen. I certainly don’t see this recognition for our district as an end, but more as a beginning. This recognition very clearly reaffirms what I already knew. ... We’ve got good people inside and outside our schools who love our children and don’t quit when the going gets tough.”
The other finalists are Wanda Cook-Robinson, superintendent of Southfield (Mich.) Public Schools; Mark Edwards, superintendent of the Mooresville (N.C.) Graded School District; and Maryalice Russell, superintendent of the McMinnville (Ore.) School District.
“AASA is honored to present these four outstanding superintendents,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of the association, in a statement. “They represent the best in school system leadership today.”
On Tuesday, the finalists will be at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., where they will participate in a panel discussion. The finalists will be interviewed by a national selection panel.
Huff’s nomination states that after his arrival in 2008, the Joplin School District adopted a comprehensive plan to address lackluster student performance and low levels of community engagement. The student dropout rate has been cut in half, community support has increased, and the district has established 280 partnerships with local businesses, faith-based groups and social service agencies to meet student needs, the nomination said. The program has become the model for the creation of Bright Futures USA, which now serves nearly 50,000 children in a dozen Missouri school districts.
Huff holds a doctorate in education leadership from the University of Arkansas, and a master’s degree in educational leadership and a specialist degree in education from Missouri State University. He received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Pittsburg (Kan.) State University.
A $10,000 COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP will be presented in the name of the award recipient to a student in the high school from which the superintendent graduated or the school now serving the same area.