Surrounded by high school seniors who are counting the days until they set off for college, Dr. C.J. Huff can recall his own younger years, when college was the highlight of his life, as well.
"My experience with higher education was fantastic," said Huff, a 1996 PSU graduate and superintendent of the Joplin (Mo.) School District, the largest school district in the southwest Missouri area. "When someone asks me about my time at PSU, I tell them it was great. The support I got there made a tremendous impact on me and my career."
After finishing his doctorate and heading up a few smaller districts in the area, Huff took the position with Joplin last year. The ability to lead the largest district of his career with such success is something he says he learned by example at PSU.
"The nice thing about PSU is that everyone takes care of you. I was just a kid off the farm and they helped me find my way," he said. "The fact that (retiring PSU president) Dr. Bryant took time out of his schedule to talk about my future with me - that left a deep impression and had a tremendous influence on me."
Huff isn't the only Gorilla within the Joplin School District's leadership. Dr. Kerry Sachetta, the principal of Joplin High School, is also a PSU alumni, who was recently named High School Principal of the Year by the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals.
"I can't say enough about my time at PSU," Sachetta said. "Knowing and working with people there have led me to some great opportunities."