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'I love being a principal': Mike Huff enjoys being a part of the Iron Horse community

Published on Wednesday, July 27, 2022

mike huff
BCSD photos / Monica Kreber

Mike Huff is all about perspective.

He is a former middle school teacher, a former assistant principal and a former district office employee – and all of those roles have allowed him to gain different perspectives that would help shape him to lead an elementary school.

“It’s our responsibility to prepare students for that transition to middle school, so having those perspectives is huge,” he said.

In May, Huff wrapped up his first year as principal of Philip Simmons Elementary. Huff has a heart for the Cainhoy area, and knows he has a lot of community support going into this year. He is looking forward to working with the community even more when the students return in August.

“There are so many things I love about the school and the area,” he said. “I love being a principal."

Huff is originally from western Pennsylvania. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2008. He also has a Master’s Degree in administration through The Citadel.

Huff spent years trying to find a teaching job up north after receiving his undergraduate degree. During that time, he served as a substitute teacher and even spent a few years working as a medical assistant in a neurology and psychology office.

In 2014, Huff saw a Facebook post from a friend promoting a teaching position in Berkeley County. Huff did a virtual interview with Dr. Anthony Dixon, who was principal of Cainhoy Elementary when it was still Cainhoy Elementary/Middle School. Two weeks later, Huff moved to Berkeley County to teach seventh and eighth-grade science and math at Cainhoy. He later moved to Philip Simmons Middle to teach sixth-grade science and math for three years.

In 2019, he became an assistant principal at Philip Simmons Elementary. He briefly left for the 2020-2021 school year to serve as the K-12 science and P.E. coordinator for the school district. Last year he was selected as the interim principal of Philip Simmons Elementary.

Huff said he was excited to not only rejoin the Philip Simmons Elementary family, but the Cainhoy community as a whole, as he has gotten to watch a lot of area students grow up through the school system.

“To come back to it was really nice – I wouldn’t have wanted to go anywhere else,” he said.

Huff’s favorite part of the area is its family-like feel with lots of community involvement, input and resources.

“There’s so much care, compassion and willingness to support the schools,” he said.

Huff said he learned many things in his first year as the principal; one thing he learned (or more like one thing that was “confirmed” for him) was that Philip Simmons Elementary has a staff that is always willing to step up.

“Their commitment to their students and their well-being was always at the forefront,” he said. “There’s an amazing staff here in this building that is really willing to go above and beyond, and is truly passionate about their students. That was 100-percent confirmed.” mike huff on seesaw

He described leadership as being almost like an inverted pyramid, and it really takes the support of everyone to accomplish a common goal.

“You can’t lead without having a good support system in place,” he said, adding, “Every job is essential in the school, regardless of what it is…if you have a missing piece, it’s not a complete picture.”

Huff views his school’s vision as one that comes together like puzzle pieces: the students, staff, community and parents are all puzzle pieces that make up that vision.

Those pieces are already present, he said, but they have not been able to be put together in recent years with the ongoing pandemic.

“To really be able to put all those resources and important pieces of the puzzle back together…I’m really looking forward to that because that just allows for so much continued growth and improvement,” he said. “It’s a common phrase ‘it takes a village’, and it’s always the truth.”

Huff’s advice to a first-year principal would be to utilize the Eisenhower Matrix when it comes to prioritization and balance, and to remember to get help when need be. Huff said he received a lot of help from a very supportive staff.

“Your staff is capable of doing so much,” he said. “Don’t feel you have to do it all yourself.”