Tony Huff

“I would like to nominate Mr. Tony Huff as Spotlight Staff Member this month. Mr. Huff goes above and beyond to coordinate and communicate with staff and families to ensure that transportation plans are carried out safely and efficiently. Recognition of our bus fleet by the Missouri State Highway Patrol for ‘Total Fleet Excellence’ was earned due to Mr. Huff’s leadership and hard work with the Licking R-VIII Transportation Department.”Mr. Tony Huff graduated from Licking High School in 1988. A member of the cross country and track teams, Mr. Huff enjoyed working while going to school. Like many members of his family, Mr. Huff trained at an early age to be a professional painter, and he planned to build a career around that trade. Except for a two year time period when he was in Springfield with his wife while she finished college at St. John’s School of Nursing, Mr. Huff has been a lifelong and multi-generational descendent of Licking residents.

Mr. Huff married Mrs. Christy Huff (a 1995 LHS graduate) in 1996 at Licking Church of Christ. As soon as they returned from Springfield, Mr. Huff pursued his painting career at Fort Leonard Wood while Mrs. Huff worked for Texas County Memorial Hospital in Houston as a registered nurse. Mrs. Huff started her master’s program soon after to become a nurse practitioner. During this time in their lives, Mr. and Mrs. Huff became parents to  Jacob, born in 2002, Jarrett Bert (JB), born in 2004, and Grace, born in 2008. Once all three children were born, Mr. Huff became self-employed as a painter so that he had the flexibility to work with the children’s schedules.

While in high school, Mr. Huff never imagined he would be working for Licking R-VIII School District. Life has a way of taking unexpected turns, and Mr. Huff began driving a school bus following encouragement from Dr. Hood, former superintendent. “I was driving the church van, and when Dr. Hood found out, he asked me about working as a substitute school bus driver, which worked well with my children’s schedules,” said Mr. Huff. “Once a person starts working with kids in our school, it’s hard to say no to what is needed,” Mr. Huff reflected. “After a short time, I was driving a full route regularly,” Mr. Huff added.

In 2019, after many requests, Mr. Huff accepted the position as Transportation Director for the district. When considering how to explain the position to someone less familiar with public school transportation, Mr. Huff says, “The majority of my time is spent making sure drivers understand what they need to do and that they are happy doing it”. Mr. Huff arranges student trips, he ensures all morning and evening bus routes are covered, he adjusts to last minute changes or notifications, and he ensures the driving team and the fleet are prepared for state highway patrol inspections annually. Still, when asked about his favorite aspect of his job, Mr. Huff commented, “The absolute best part is working with kids. Preschoolers say, ‘Hi, Mr. Tony,’ and I get to interact with kids I know from local churches.”

It may surprise people that the district Transportation Director is instrumental in connecting children with special education services, coordinating resources for families in need, and identifying struggling students. Mr. Huff and the team of bus drivers are the first adults to see children each school day, and they are responsive to changes in children’s demeanors. Mr. Huff enjoys collaborating with bus drivers, and they can often be found celebrating fellowship in the form of fish-fries during lunch or after hours. “This acknowledgement is not just about me,” Mr. Huff said. “This recognition is shared with every single bus driver I work with. I couldn’t do it without them, and I believe I have the best bus driving team in the business,” added Mr. Huff.

Mr. Huff is known in the community for his humility and his faith. A soft-spoken man, Mr. Huff spent several years volunteering and worshipping at Licking Christian Church and is now attending New Harmony Church. He has served as youth minister, day school director, church van driver, and camp counselor…among many other roles. Mr. Huff is thankful for the new bus barn and added space for mechanical work. In his free time, Mr. Huff enjoys spending time with his family, fishing, hunting, and floating. Here at Licking R-VIII School District, we find Mr. Huff to be invaluable to daily operation, regularly looking for ways to improve facilities and programs for our youth. For these reasons, we are proud to celebrate Mr. Huff as February’s Spotlight Staff Member!