Published on September 28, 2023 by Kameron Brown  

In 2014, dynamic leaders in the field of education began touting the need for high-level and innovative leadership across Alabama’s school systems. The response was the development of the Transformation Leadership Academy (TLA), the brainchild of Ruth Ash, former dean of Orlean Beeson School of Education.

The Transformation Leadership Academy is a select group of Alabama’s school superintendents who meet quarterly to learn, grow and share ideas and to encourage one another to meet their goals as transformational leaders and educators. This forum of leaders routinely explores possibilities for the future of education and fosters creative problem solving for a diverse range of issues facing Alabama’s school districts.

Orlean Beeson School of Education’s own Jane Cobia, professor and director of Samford’s instructional leadership program, currently serves as the director for the Transformation Leadership Academy. In this role Cobia coordinates the academy’s meetings, manages records and logistics and collaborates with the Schlechty Center on content and curriculum management. 

“It was to be through a series of meetings that innovation, creativity and relationship building would be discussed, and plans of action developed by each one of the participants to fit his or her own district,” said Cobia. “Together, we work through intentional curriculum provided and led by George Thompson of the Schlechty Center.”

The Schlechty Center is a private, non-profit organization committed to partnering with education leaders who are interested in nurturing a culture of engagement in their organizations, with the ultimate goal of increasing profound learning for students. The center provides strategic consultation to the TLA, targeted advice and technical assistance that result in better outcomes for Alabama’s school districts.

Additionally, members have the opportunity to participate in leading edge discussions, debate in the safety of trusted colleagues and enhance their leadership capacity through awareness conversations of nationwide trends. Participating superintendents work through issues like shifting demographics, child-readiness, school safety, budgeting, professional learning for faculty and staff, facilities management and student issues and events.

“The main idea for our 2023-24 cohort is to provide learning opportunities for our superintendents to develop, expand and hone the skills that broaden school and community relationships that result in increased student achievements,” said Cobia.

The foundation of this year’s study is primarily research that highlights the relationship between superintendents as moral and intellectual leaders and increased achievement at the school level. The School of Education’s commitment to character education highlights the important impact of school leadership on students and communities.

Samford’s School of Education has the privilege of being a hosting site for several of the TLA’s meetings. Cobia actively works to maintain positive relationships with superintendents across the state, engaging the academy with relevant topics of discussion that keep Alabama schools in lock step with the education and business trends of the day.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.