Leadership

Drew Sippel
Executive Director

Drew SippelDrew has been deeply involved with the Binghampton neighborhoods for more than 14 years. For the past three years, he has strategically focused on the Binghampton area to develop the socio-economic and educational capacity of the area. He has been a board member for both the Binghampton Development Corporation and Service Over Self, both self-sustaining organizations making a difference in the Binghampton community as well as affecting thousands of volunteers’ lives by highlighting the brokenness of the city and the need to address the issues of the city thoughtfully.

Drew accepted the position of executive director of Capstone Education Group (CEG) after studying the education needs of the community for the past several years. “We want to work to eliminate injustice and oppression, and I believe that it is unjust for a child to be destined to receive an inadequate education simply for being born in a particular neighborhood. A child born in the inner city of Memphis has a 40 percent chance of dropping out of high school before graduating, and if the child does graduate, he or she will receive a high school education that equates to an eighth-grade education of a suburban student. That is unjust, and I am committed to fighting this issue as the director of Capstone Education Group.”

Drew has researched and visited many of the highest-performing urban schools in the country, as well as attending the Building Excellent Schools program in Boston, Massachusetts. Recently, he received a master of arts in education from Union University. He is bringing the best practices from these schools to Cornerstone Prep and Lester Prep, learning from the success of others.

He has a very clear picture of success for a Cornerstone Prep and Lester Prep students. “Our school will be successful when a student graduates from the eighth grade, attends a challenging high school, receives a scholarship to a prestigious university, and then returns to Memphis with a degree to invest his or her life serving this community as a leader in his or her chosen field, seeking to improve the lot of the people of this city.”

This exciting and long-term vision motivates Drew to make CEG schools life-changing schools for students, families, and the Binghampton and Frayser communities.

Lacee Rogers
Director of Teacher Development

Lacee Rodgers is a native of the port city, Mobile, Alabama. She made her way to Memphis nearly 8 years ago and is now happy to call this great city her new home. Lacee started her career in education as an English teacher and since then has had the privilege of teaching both middle and high school English. Lacee made tremendous gains with her students, and she was a Level 5 teacher each year.

Lacee made her transition into administration as Dean of Culture at Memphis Scholars Raleigh Egypt. She focused on reducing school suspensions, implementing character education programs, and providing enriching activities that exposed students to numerous social and cultural possibilities. Her work at MSRE assisted in reducing the suspension rate by nearly 15 percent. Ms. Rodgers then served as the Assistant Principal of Instruction at Aspire Hanley Middle School where she focused her work on increasing reading and math achievement. Under her leadership, Aspire Hanley Middle was able to move from TVAAS Level 1 to TVASS Level 5 in just one school year!

Lacee is a proud graduate of Florida A&M University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in English. Priding herself as a lifelong learner, Lacee completed her Master of Education at Christian Brothers University. She then obtained her Educational Specialist degree with a focus in Instructional Leadership at Arkansas State University. Lacee is passionate about education and it her life’s work to ensure that no child must ever leave their neighborhood to obtain a quality education!

Alex Wrobel
Director of Operational Systems, Data, and Technology

Alex WrobelAlex Wrobel joined the Capstone family in 2013 where he has held a variety of operational roles for CEG. Along with his wife and two sons, he lives in Binghampton and enjoys having students from the Lester campus play basketball in the backyard. Hailing from the Midwest, Alex is a huge Big Ten fan and will always support any team that plays against the SEC. Alex and his wife came to Memphis as a part of the Memphis Teacher Residency where they both earned a Masters in Urban Education. As an undergraduate, Alex studied chemistry and chemical engineering at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI. “I see the inequality in urban education as the greatest social justice issue of my time. I came to Memphis to be a part of the solution.” At CEG Alex works to ensure that systems are effective and they meet the needs of our leaders, teachers, and students. “I want to give our schools the support they need so they can provide our students with the world-class education they deserve.”

Muna Olaniyi
Director of Academic Achievement

Muna OlaniyiMuna Olaniyi is from Washington DC and brings over 13 years of experience in education. She comes to Memphis by way of her husband who works as a Computer Engineer for a local company. Muna began her work with Capstone Education Group at Cornerstone Prep Lester Campus, where she coached teachers in grades K-5 in literacy instruction, created an after-school tutoring program for grades 3-5 and developed an incentives program for scholars who were proficient on weekly assessments. She was quickly offered the opportunity to build the second school, Lester Prep Middle School. She assisted with hiring the leaders and founding teachers of Lester Prep and co-authored the Instructional Blueprint. This Blueprint now serves as the instructional framework for all three schools. As the Director of Academic Achievement, she wears many hats. Her primary role is to work with leaders to ensure that the instructional expectations as indicated through curriculum and assessments are lived throughout the school.

Muna holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in English from the University of Maryland. She also holds a Master’s Degree from McDaniel College in Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Leadership. Before working at Capstone Education Group, she worked for the District of Columbia Public School District. She was a classroom teacher of grades 3-6, RTI Coordinator, Instructional Coach, Instructional Specialist, and Mary Patterson Fellows Candidate. She has won awards such as Teacher of the Year and Highly Effective Educator, three years in a row.

She comes to Memphis with a wealth of knowledge and is excited to continue the work that drives the CEG mission “equip all students with the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed in college and to become leaders in their community.”

Donna Brigham
Director of Special Education

Donna BrighamDonna Brigham joined the Capstone Education Group family in 2016 as the Director of Special Education. She brings 27 years of educational experience in both general education and special education. She spent 19 years in the classroom as a teacher and five years in leadership as Director of Special Education at a local private school. Donna had a strong desire to work in urban education to make a difference and impact students in the Binghampton/Frayser community. She has been serving the community for three years and loves working alongside other faculty and staff.

Donna holds a bachelor degree in Elementary Education (K-8) and a Master’s Degree from Union University. She is has been married for 25 years and has raised two daughters in Memphis, TN. She loves to travel and spend time with her family, gardening and reading.

She has served on the Board of Directors for Learning Disabilities of America, a national organization that focuses on providing support for parents, adult, and students with learning differences. She has advocated on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, for Safer Chemicals through the Healthy Children’s Coalition.

While the work is hard, it is rewarding to see students persevere and reach their goals to equip them to be successful in whatever endeavor they choose. Your zip code does not define your future. Each student has the potential to go to college and be a successful member of their community.

Alexis Williams
Special Education Coordinator

Alexis Williams joins CEG in the role of Special Education Coordinator. She has a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Southern University A&M College and a master's degree in Education with a specialization in Special Education from Ashford University. Alexis brings over 10 years of educational experience including Special Education Teacher and Special Education Program Specialist.

Alexis is married with two children, ages 6 and 8. She enjoys traveling, spending time with her family and friends, and watching movies. She is passionate about improving outcomes for students with disabilities and advocating for students and their families. She believes that all students, when provided with the right tools, can succeed and become productive citizens.

Patricia Burns
Manager of Information and Business Systems

Patricia BurnsPatricia Burns became the assistant director of community and family relations at Cornerstone Preparatory School in February 2013, before becoming the manager of operations for a season. Now, she is our manager of information and business systems. She previously served as Lester community liaison for Christ Community Health Services from October 2000 through February 2013. Patricia provided reading intervention, taught character education, led a Girl Scout Troop, conducted an after-school Bible club, took students to summer camps and led a summer Vacation Bible School in the Binghampton community. She brings a wealth of experience and community knowledge to Cornerstone Prep.

“My desire for the students in Binghampton has not changed in these 13 years: to receive the quality education that every child deserves, without regard to his or her ZIP code”. Patricia earned a bachelor of arts degree in human development and learning from Christian Brothers University in Memphis, and a certificate in biblical studies from Covenant College in Coventry, England.

Liz Jarvis
ESL Lead

Liz Jarvis grew up in the beautiful beachside town of Ocean Springs, MS. The daughter of two teachers, Liz always knew the importance of quality education and how much a love of learning can change a life. Studying history at Mississippi State University gave her a broad picture of the world and understanding of people. However, it wasn't until moving to Memphis in 2010 that she began to see the tremendous need for education across socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic lines. When Liz moved to Memphis, she started working at a local nonprofit, Refugee Empowerment Program. In the three years she worked there, she learned about refugees and immigrants and the needs they face in coming to a new country, especially in terms of language. This work created a passion in her for closing the educational gap for refugee and immigrant students, which led her to get her Master's of Arts in Teaching from the University of Memphis in 2015. 

Liz became an English as a Second Language teacher at Cornerstone Prep - Lester in 2014. Since then, she has taught students from over 20 different countries and with over 30 language backgrounds.

Liz said, "It is an incredible gift to be able to be one of the first connection points of a student new to our school and to our country. To be able to be a safe person, a welcome to parents, and one of their first teachers is something powerful. One of the most important reasons families come to our country is so that their children can receive an excellent education, and it is a joy to get to do that here."

Liz advocates for her students, engages families and communities, and continues a strong partnership with Refugee Empowerment Program. She became the ESL Lead for Capstone Education Group in 2018 and has embraced the added responsibilities and leadership in that role.