By Dianne Anderson

Booking for the upcoming Transformational Leadership Conference is filling up faster than Shinay Bowman expected, but she’s not complaining.

Her phone has been ringing nonstop, and it’s grabbed the attention of top academic administrators across southern California.

“It surpassed our expectations because we only opened the conference at the end of January,” she said.

The event, to be held in Indian Wells from June 26-28, will cover several topics to task educators in leadership on reaching students and parents to make sure more kids don’t fall through the cracks. Bowman said they are hosting breakout sessions, and their superintendent’s panel discussion is about as multi-cultural as it gets.

“We invited diverse superintendents from across California and five have confirmed. We have a Latino, white, Black, Asian, Pacific Islander. What race didn’t we get?” she laughs.

Not everyone asks that question, but she feels they should.

The need for equity to reach students and parents is at a critical point. She said they want to ask the hard questions and get diverse perspectives about how school leaders are dealing with these difficult times.

“How they’re overcoming their struggles with English learner students, African American students, dealing with suicides and shootings. In the face of all that’s going on, how do they maintain moving forward for kids to be successful?” she said.

Bowman, also a certified suicide intervention trainer, hosts training throughout San Bernardino. Her own tragic encounter with a local suicide spurred her to get involved with prevention. She was then a teacher when an eighth-grade student killed himself. He wasn’t in her class,  but she remembers him from her sixth-grade class, and it was devastating.

Superintendents, assistant superintendents and high-level cabinet members are coming to the event from as far away as Northern California and San Diego. However, she hopes more local teachers, and community members participate to stretch the dialogue for best approaches in education.

The cost of the three-day conference is comparable to other education conferences at $450. If that’s too steep, she said 20 volunteer slots with registration waivers are open for those that want to help work the event.

The Transformational Leadership Consortium comprises teachers, principals and county administrators, that work with San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools. She said the seven-member board was established four years ago, and has site leaders and program facilitators at area high schools.

“We are women of diversity, and we felt that there was a huge leadership crisis in education,” she said.

Bowman started out as a teacher at San Bernardino Shandin Hills Middle School, later a literacy coach, an assistant principal, and also an interim principal in Fontana. She works for San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools as a program manager.

There, she oversees implementation of Positive Behavior Intervention and Support, a program in 15 school districts countywide. PBIS is credited with better alternatives to punishment, and helping reduce suspension and expulsion rates for kids of color.

TLC, a project apart from the county, is also strong on social justice and equity to meet the needs of Black and Brown kids, girls, and all students dealing with behavioral issues.

Educational leadership, youth empowerment, community engagement and creating efficient ways for organizations to work together is their main focus. She hopes the conference will remind educators of why they got into the field in the first place.

“We can’t be supermen or superwomen, but we can be a super-community,” she said. “I feel like a lot of individuals focus on their own ability to go up in education and forget that it’s really about the community and village.”

While the consortium isn’t a church, it may feel that way at times with the Master of Ceremonies, who is both an educational and spiritual leader. Derek Harris, the senior director of risk management at Rialto Unified School District, is also an ordained pastor scheduled to MC the event.

“We’re hoping that this is a weekend that rekindles spirits and hearts to do the right thing for kids,” she said.

Registration is open until May 18.

At the conference, Terrance Stone with Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy will be presenting on working with the youth and community building.

He hopes to get revitalized in being around like-minded nonprofits, educators and leaders that care about the kids and get great information.

“To put some fire under us for going out, working in the community, because it can be tiresome. People on the outside just don’t know how much work goes into community-saving,” he said.

Working in San Bernardino hasn’t been the easiest task, but he said community workers need to have these conversations to empower themselves and the youth.

“It’s kind of about energizing and re-educating ourselves also, so we can really work in a city such as San Bernardino,” Stone said.

For more information, call  (909) 521-0790 or email

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