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Ruafika Cobb named ACS 2023 Principal of the Year

When they say #NoPlaceLikeJones – they certainly mean it! 


During the Asheville City Schools Convocation on Monday, August 23rd, the staff at Ira B. Jones Elementary School showed their love for Principal Ruafika Cobb in a BIG way when they found out she had been named the district’s 2023 Principal of the Year! Interim Superintendent Dr. Jim Causby announced the surprise during Asheville City School’s welcome back staff pep rally. 


As an experienced educator with twenty-two years of experience, Mrs. Cobb began her career as a Math and Science teacher at Frisbie Middle School in Rialto, CA. Mrs. Cobb joined the Cougar Family in 2005 and has been here ever since. She has been a teacher, math coach, assistant principal, and principal in our district and has served at the elementary, middle, and high school levels for the past 17 years. 

Mrs. Cobb began her ACS tenure as an Algebra I teacher at Asheville Middle School. She took a leadership role during her tenure, ensuring equitable mathematics learning. As the Founder and Director of the Middle School’s Algebra Academy, she built the program from the ground up. This program was designed for historically underserved students to master Algebra, considered a critical “gatekeeper” subject because its mastery is necessary for students to advance in math, technology, and science and is a predictor of college attendance. The Algebra Academy operated from 2006-2010 at Asheville Middle until she started a new position at Hall Fletcher Elementary as the Math Coach. Mrs. Cobb's work with the Algebra Academy has been recognized by the University of North Carolina’s Multicultural Center and the Asheville Citizen Times with their featured story entitled Project Targets Math Literacy. Also, Dr. Robert Moses, a key student leader in the Civil Rights Movement and President and Founder of The Algebra Project, helped to bring Mrs. Cobb’s Algebra Academy to a national spotlight, featuring it as part of The Algebra Project website.  

In 2008, Mrs. Cobb received the District’s Outstanding Teaching Award. The NC Council of Teachers in Mathematics also honored her as an Outstanding Secondary Math Teacher. In addition, she has also been recognized by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County for her contributions to the community of Asheville as a whole.  

Mrs. Cobb was Hall Fletcher Elementary School’s Math Coach for two years before becoming an assistant principal, first at Hall Fletcher Elementary and then at Isaac Dickson Elementary School. In addition to juggling her assistant principal responsibilities, Mrs. Cobb served as Asheville City Schools’ 2013 Summer School Program Administrator.    

Mrs. Cobb then served as Asheville High School’s assistant principal from August 2018 - October 2019 before becoming the interim principal at Ira B. Jones Elementary on October 1, 2019 (her birthday!), and was officially named the school’s principal in May 2020. 

In addition to her experiences with Asheville City Schools, Mrs. Cobb was an adult education math teacher at Asheville-Buncombe Community College from 2015-2017.  She was also asked to present at the 2017 and 2018 Integrated Comprehensive System for Equity National Conferences. During this time, she’s continued to serve on a few community boards, including being a current board member of the Asheville City Schools Foundation and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. 

Mrs. Cobb earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Tuskegee University and a Master’s Degree in Education Leadership from East Tennessee State University. This past spring, she completed the Distinguished Leaders in Practice program through the NC Principals and Assistant Principals Association. Currently, she is working on her Doctorate of Educational Leadership Degree at Western Carolina University.

Mrs. Cobb is an equity-centered instructional leader who believes all students must feel safe at school. She strives to create a school environment where students are authentically engaged in culturally relevant and responsive experiences, higher-order thinking, and problem-solving; students must find what they are learning relevant to their own lives. This learning starts with students contributing to an established positive learning environment that considers the full diversity of their cultural backgrounds and experiences. Mrs. Cobb firmly believes that positive and strong relationships are the key to students becoming independent learners and that all students are capable of learning. With the proper guidance and encouragement, they could soar to unimaginable heights. She believes education should be fun, challenging, engaging, and accessible to all. And most importantly Mrs. Cobb believes there is a genius inside of every kid. 


When away from school, Mrs. Cobb enjoys scrapbooking, baking, cooking, traveling, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Demeseh, live in Black Mountain and have three children, Kokayi, Keyvaun, and Ashanti.

Congratulations, Principal Cobb, on being named Asheville City Schools 2023 Principal of the Year! We are so lucky to have you!