The board of directors believe deeply in the empowering leverage that a good education can bring to the lives of the children living in urban Memphis. Their hearts have been broken by the conditions that have too long existed in Memphis.
Their desire was to establish a preparatory school serving the inner city. The Cornerstone Preparatory School is the result of many months of planning and hard work. Each board member has a long standing interest in the building the capacity of our youth through education.
They are excited with the changes that education can make in the inner city. They look forward to 2023 when the first class from Cornerstone Preparatory School will begin college.
Board of Directors
Tom Marino • Vice Chairman/Director
Drew Sippel • Executive Director/Director
- Senior Vice President, LIpscomb and Pitts Insurance Agency
- Founding board member of Service Over Self and Binghampton Development Corporation
- Leader in his community and his business
University of Memphis, bachelor's degree with majors in international relations and political science
"At a core level, education provides
the foundation upon which healthy societies are built. As our urban
have continued to suffer, we can trace many of the symptoms back to a
educational system. Cornerstone Prep does not believe we will
solve all the problems with our approach but I am convinced that our
provide some key solutions to these educational problems. I am involved
with Cornerstone Prep because I see education as one of the core needs
community and one that can provide impact for generations to come. This
is a part of the solution for healing this community and our city as we
educational opportunity and hope to the students we serve."
"Each individual matters and Cornerstone Prep can and will
difference in the lives of the children with whom we come in contact."
- Mississippi State
University, 1982, B.PA.
- Memphis Theological
Seminary, 1994, M. Div.
- Former Certified
- Staff of Christ
United Methodist Church, including Director of Youth Ministries, Director of Missions
Director and Founder of Service Over Self (SOS)
- Currently Executive
Director of The Poplar Foundation
The greatest need in
our city is in the area of education. Cornerstone Prep will give any
child in Memphis equal access to a quality education, and we will
academic rigor and achievement with leadership development and service
What a school! What a mission!
There is nothing that is more needed in our city.
- Vanderbilt University, J.D.
- University of Mississippi, B.A.
- Evans Petree PC, Director, Primary practice - Real Estate
- Board Member, Christ United Methodist Church and Chrysalis
"I believe too
many promising students do not get the educational opportunity they deserve and
I am excited to know that Cornerstone Prep is providing this to so many
families. Cornerstone Prep is bringing a quality education to the residents of Binghampton
and I believe this benefits not only the family but the entire community. I am
honored to be a part of this important work."
- University of Mississippi, Bachelor's, Finance
- Wake Forest University, MBA
- Union University, Master of Arts in
- Christ United Methodist Church, Church Administrator
- Mueller Industries, Division Controller
Drew has been deeply involved with the Binghampton neighborhoods for more than 14 years. Over the last few years, he has strategically focused on the
Binghampton area to develop the socio-economic and educational capacity of the
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 thoughtfully
address the issues of the city.
Drew recently accepted the position of executive
director of Cornerstone Prep after studying the education needs of the
community for the past three 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 8th grade education of a suburban student. That is unjust and I am committed to fighting this issue as the Director of Cornerstone Prep."
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. He received a master of arts in education from Union University. He is bringing the best practices from these schools to Cornerstone Prep, learning from the success of others. He has a very clear picture of success for a Cornerstone Prep student.
“Our school will be successful when a Cornerstone Prep student graduates from the fifth grade, attends a challenging middle and 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 Cornerstone Prep a life-changing school for students, families, and the Binghampton community.
Monika currently serves as chief ethics officer for the city of Memphis. This important position includes managing all administrative functions of the Board of Ethics, creating a program to train officers and employees regarding compliance with the Code of Ethics, providing advisory ethics opinions, and many other tasks.
Monika previously served as the director of contract service and supplier diversity for Memphis City Schools. Monika implemented a web-based technology solution for contract management, which resulted in improved internal controls, uniformity in contract terms, an electronic database of all contract files, and electronic storage of all contracts and reporting capabilities.
Monika has a bachelor’s degree from Rust College in English/law. She then continued her education at Cecil C. Humphrey’s School of Law. She has served as an attorney for more than 14 years.
Elliot is a graduate of Treadwell High School and Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis). He played basketball in high school and won two gold medals in gymnastics at the Junior Olympics. Perry, a four-year basketball standout, was one of the finest guards to ever play for his hometown Tigers and led his team to four straight postseason NCAA tournaments and 76 wins over his career. Perry’s jersey number 34 is retired and hangs in the FedEx Forum. Before being selected with the 10th pick of the second round (37th overall) by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1991 NBA Draft, Perry received a bachelor’s degree in marketing.
Elliot played for a decade in the NBA as a point guard, ending his career in the 2001-02 season with his hometown Memphis Grizzles – where he went on to become an ownership partner. Perry is also known as “Socks” because he wore his socks to his knees when he played during his NBA career. He formed the “SOCKS Fund” (Supporting Our Community and Kids) to provide financial support to those organizations that are making a difference in the Memphis area as it relates to kids.
After retirement, Elliot served as a player representative with the NBA Players Association in (2004). On October 8, 2005 he began a new chapter in his life when he joined the Memphis Grizzlies ownership team. Perry also joined the Grizzlies radio broadcasting team as a commentator in the 2006-07 season. Perry lives in Germantown with his wife, Kimberly, and their daughter Morgan. He enjoys movies, music, bowling, and golf. Perry is a very active board member of the Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation, which provides mentorship opportunities for Memphis youth and also serves on a number of boards including Teach For America (TFA), KIPP, etc. He is heavily involved in charity work in Memphis and many philanthropic endeavors. Perry is also an avid collector of contemporary African-American artwork. He began his extensive art collection in 1996. He is passionate for the artwork he buys and the artists he supports. He desires to provide a visible platform through the eyes of some of today’s young artists and challenges himself and others in how they think about history, culture and art.
Since November 2005, Perry has been a community advisor for the Poplar Foundation, facilitating major change in the city of Memphis.
Elliot’s motto is : “I have always wanted to be a positive and central figure in my community, to use my platform to influence and help those who are in need.”
Camela Echols Blackmon is an accomplished professional with more than 14 years of experience in nonprofit work and more than 10 years of experience in nonprofit management, during which she has developed diverse programs focusing on community empowerment, social services, academic enrichment, and mentoring. As the director of Refugee Empowerment Program, she is responsible for giving oversight of daily operations and for managing the REP staff, a program base of more than 400 participants, and a volunteer base of more than 200 individuals.
Refugee Empowerment Program is located in the heart of Binghampton, serving families in this community each day. Aside from her extensive experience, Cam has undergone considerable professional development and training through the three-year Urban Youth Initiative course, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers conferences, and the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative. A strategic, compassionate leader with proven ability to create new organizations, spearhead change, and conceptualize and execute innovative, sustainable initiatives, Cam is focused on community development and empowerment.
2015 - 2016 Board Meeting Schedule
All meetings will be held at Cornerstone Prep office, located at 320 Carpenter. Unless there is a holiday, all meetings are held the first Tuesday of every other month, rotating between 12:00 and 5:30 start time. Find Meeting Minutes and Board Updates below. You can also read our By Laws, Audit, and Conflict of Interest Policy.
- Tuesday, September 8, 2015, Noon moved to September 28 at Noon.
- Tuesday, December 1, 2015, 5:30pm
- Tuesday, February 2, 2016, Noon
- Tuesday, April 5, 2016, 5:30pm
- Tuesday, June 7, 2016, Noon
- ROLL CALL
- PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
- MOMENT OF SILENCE
- APPROVAL OF AGENDA
- APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING
- SPECIAL RECOGNITION/PRESENTATIONS
- UNFINISHED BOARD BUSINESS
- NEW BOARD BUSINESS