Connected Leadership Academy is led by six superintendents and top district leaders who have walked the walk of digital transformations in their own school districts. They’ll share stories about how they overcame challenges and made the digital shift in real life. Today we’re asking Dr. C.J. Huff, former Superintendent, Joplin Schools some questions about what it means to be a future ready leader, and why district leaders shouldn’t miss out on the Connected Leadership Academy.

What does being a future ready leader mean to you?

C. J. HuffIt’s about casting a vision for learning that creates relevant opportunities for kids that don’t currently exist. It’s also about developing collaborative partnerships across the community to build a bridge between the school and community.

What is collaborative leadership?

To me collaborative leadership is simply bringing the best and brightest together to the same table to problem solve challenges.

What’s the most important attribute of a future ready leader? Why?

Courage. I don’t believe most current state accountability systems are built with a future ready mindset. With such a high degree of accountability, it can be scary to take that first step towards innovation when your district could be penalized if results aren’t immediate.

What is the most important step in the process of digital conversion?

Besides vision, you have to have the infrastructure in place to support the conversion, followed by training and on-going teacher support.

What’s important to remember when facing challenges around digital conversion?

Change is hard…especially this kind of transformational work. It’s important to keep reminding folks of the Why? behind the work.


Who is this academy for?

Connected Leadership Academy is for any leader that is at any point on the digital conversion journey.

If someone was on the fence about participating, what would you say to them?

The grass is definitely greener on this side of the fence. That is where you will not only find other great leaders who are walking that path,  but ultimately that is where you will find our kids as well.

Get involved and join us at the kickoff event this September

Districts need a strategic, common sense plan to guide their path toward digital transformation.Connected Leadership Academy is the answer. You’ll benefit from other superintendents who have been there, and learn from their mistakes and challenges.

Start transforming your district now.

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About Dr. Huff

Dr. C.J. Huff is an educator with 20 years of experience in public education working with children and communities. In July 2008 Dr. Huff was hired as the superintendent of schools in Joplin, Missouri. With the on time graduation rate hovering between 65 – 70%, Dr. Huff was tasked with the formidable challenge of increasing the number of Joplin High School graduates.

On May 22, 2011 Joplin Schools was unexpectedly faced with another seemingly insurmountable challenge. On that day a devastating EF-5 tornado destroyed 6 of his 19 schools. Following an extensive recovery effort, Dr. Huff retired from Joplin Schools on June 30, 2015. During his tenure in Joplin he and the district received numerous state and national awards representative of the collective efforts of the Joplin school community. In addition to building award winning 21st century schools with nationally recognized 21st century programming, he is most proud of the community of Joplin and how everyone worked together to overcome the challenges of disaster recovery while staying focused on the education of the children. The intentional consequence of those efforts included the on-time graduation rate improving to above 85%, district-wide reading achievement reaching an all time high and the community being fully engaged in the life of the schools and invested in the educational success of the kids.

Today, Dr. Huff works with school districts across the country to help communities find creative ways to overcome obstacles facing today’s youth by developing grassroots systems of support to meet children’s most basic needs while creating relevant 21st learning experiences to better prepare them for life.

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During a 25-year education career, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach has been a classroom teacher, technology coach, charter school principal, district administrator, university instructor and digital learning consultant. Sheryl is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Powerful Learning Practice, where she works with schools and districts from around the world to re-envision their learning cultures and communities through the Connected Learner Experience and other e-learning opportunities. She is the author (with Lani Ritter Hall) of The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age (Solution Tree, 2012) and serves on the ISTE Board of Directors.
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