Huntington High’s new principal brings extensive experience to role

By JEAN TARBETT HARDIMAN
HUNTINGTON – Joedy Cunningham started at Marshall University in 1995 with plans to become a social studies teacher.
Then during his senior year, he got offered a job in business management, which would be waiting for him in Columbus after he graduated.
He accepted it. But it took only three months for him to realize that that business in Columbus was not where his heart was. He wanted to teach school, and he wanted to be back in the Tri-State, where his future wife, Amy, was working on her master’s degree with plans to teach Spanish.
So he came back.
He completed his master’s degree in education at Marshall, spent three years teaching high school in Louisa, Kentucky, and then got offered his first job in Cabell County Schools, where he’s been continuously promoted and just this summer took over as principal at Huntington High. He replaces Greg Webb, now director of buildings and grounds for Cabell County Schools.
As the Highlanders’ principal, Cunningham leads about 1,700 students, 116 teachers, 40 service personnel and a team of five fellow administrators.
“This is a good school. We have good students and good teachers who make things happen,” Cunningham said, adding that he loves all the flavor of the community.
“As I’ve said before, (Huntington High) is like a spice rack. You have every different kind of child here at Huntington High. All your demographics of race, and your economic diversity, and it’s great. You can mix them all together.”
It reminds him a lot of his own high school, he said, which was Wheeling Park.
“You have all your spices,” he said. “We are a small microcosm of a bigger city. We have that flavor, and it’s fun to see what they can do together, working together in the classroom and extracurricular.”
He’s extremely proud of the diversity of the programs that the school has, thanks to dedicated teachers and the students.
“Without the rich background of teachers to provide those opportunities for kids, the students wouldn’t be able to explore those things – not just sports and arts but the clubs. Every child has an opportunity to be involved in something at Huntington High. We are not just one-dimensional. ”
Cunningham is not entirely new to Huntington High.
Before this position, he spent two years as principal at Milton Middle, but before that, he was associate principal at Huntington High for three years. Prior to that, he served as assistant principal at Cabell Midland High for five years, and before that he was assistant principal at Cammack Middle School, which has since consolidated into Huntington Middle.
He became an administrator at Cammack Middle just a couple months into his first year teaching there.
“I was blessed. My whole career, I’ve been very blessed,” Cunningham said. “I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had here in Cabell County Schools. … I’ve been very well trained. I’ve been given great opportunities from our central office, which promoted me into different positions and has allowed me to learn all capacities of a public secondary school.”
He’s extremely thankful that he got a chance to try business, even just briefly, so he could find out that his heart was truly in schools.
“For a few years, I loved the classroom and then I had the opportunity to become an administrator,” he said. “Every day is something different, and it’s usually a fun adventure.
“As an administrator, no day is the same, and the same thing goes for the classroom. There’s no day in the classroom that’s the same. You’re teaching a different lesson every day, and the kids’ responses are different, just like as an administrator walking through the building and the hallways and interacting with the children and teachers.”
He enjoys getting to talk with the kids during hallway duty and lunch duty, and on ball fields and at extracurricular events such as a theater production or musical performance.
“I enjoy my job,” he said.
When he’s not working, he and wife, Amy, a Spanish teacher at Cabell Midland, are usually running around with their two kids. They have a 9-year-old daughter, Katelyn, and a 6-year-old son, Will.
“It seems like we’re always at a different ball practice or something,” he said with a laugh. “That’s what we wanted. We’re here for them. That’s why we had children, so we can enjoy our lives with them.”