Noopie Cosby, an Alabama business owner, knew the schools of his state needed new ideas, so he searched the internet for programs to enhance the Alabama student experience. Today the Effective Leadership Academy is delivering virtual courses to multiple Alabama public schools. W.F. “Noopie” Cosby is president and founder of the Cosby Company, a private business in Alabama whose primary focus is Government and Public Relations. Why and how did he team with an Ohio based nonprofit dedicated to student leadership? It all goes back to his roots growing up in Alabama and the opportunities that led him to be a leader in his state.
As a youth, Noopie didn’t realize they didn’t have anything. His parents made tremendous sacrifices working two or three jobs so that he and his brother could have a better way of life. He was very fortunate. In his teenage years he received training from the Dale Carnegie Training Sales Course. Many of the concepts taught through this program stuck with him. The leadership skills he learned during these formative years led him to being elected as an Alabama State Representative at the age of 29. After serving 16 years for the state, he created the Cosby Company.
Wanting to enhance the growth of the students of Alabama and to give them the opportunities in leadership development that he was given, Noopie began his search for a program. After a year of researching, trying to find a support vehicle that taught soft skill enhancement and would; “help students with the practical ways of life, help them develop character, teach them that they could be someone to be counted on, help them learn to make good decisions, make them see that leadership is the will to sacrifice,” Noopie landed on the Effective Leadership Academy’s webpage. This was just the program but how was he going to deliver it to the students in his state?
Fortunately, ELA was able to pivot during the pandemic and shift their curriculum from in-person to online and deliver its quality programs with as much impact as it had done physically in the Ohio school districts. ELA could deliver virtually, but now Noopie had to find the resources. The Alabama Association of Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) Councils, an organization that is dedicated to people doing things for other people to improve the quality of life for fellow Alabamians, was the perfect supporter. RC&D provided the grants that made it possible for the ELA programs to reach the Alabama schools.
In the 2020-2021 school year, the pilot program was conducted at Brookwood High School. Five classes totaling ninety freshman students were recipients of ELA’s Virtual Transitions Program. Post program reviews showed an astounding impact. A high percentage of students had no prior lessons in social-emotional learning core concepts. Once these skills were taught, there was a significant growth especially in the concepts of communication and personal learning styles. Student comments were positive, “Both leaders were super friendly and made it easy to follow along. I also enjoyed how much I learned about myself and my classmates from these lessons." Following the success of the pilot program, eight new schools were added to the 2021-2022 school year!
If Noopie had his druthers, this article wouldn’t be about him. He wants the focus on the students of Alabama; about how important it is to bring these essential skills to the youth, the future, and the hope of Alabama. The dream is to spread across all 105 legislative districts and to help these rising stars realize their potential. Next year the plan is to grow to fifteen schools and eventually cover the state. Noopie knows that the tangible value of working with kids today is what they take forward into this changing and challenging world. We are grateful he came to ELA to realize his dream for Alabama youth and his plan to help. Not being professionally trained in Social-Emotional Leadership Noopie says, “All I’ve got is hard knocks and a gut feeling.” ELA is proud to be his partner and looks forward to supporting Noopie’s vision for the schools of Alabama.