Our Staff - Capstone Education Group
Committed to Excellence
Drew Sippel, Executive Director, capstone education group
Drew 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 thoughtfully address the issues of the city.
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.
Alex Wrobel, Director of Data and Technology
Alex Wrobel joins our team as Capstone Education Group's Director of Data and Technology, where he is responsible for measuring how each school is performing across different key measures, integrating data systems, administering state and district standardized tests, and all technology oversight as well as day-to-day tech operations. He and his wife have lived in Binghampton since they moved to Memphis in the summer of 2012, and he thoroughly enjoys living where he works.
Prior to working at Capstone, Alex earned a Master’s in Urban Education from Union University as a part of the Memphis Teacher Residency program where he was a resident chemistry teacher. During his undergraduate studies, Alex worked as a tutor in chemistry and statistics as well as a research assistant in inorganic chemistry building his strong analytical skills and a love for education.
Alex’s favorite part of his job is being able to work across all schools and levels within the organization from students and teachers to school leaders and volunteers to build a strong, data-driven culture. One day Alex hopes to use his love and knowledge of running to coach a cross-country and track team at the Lester campus.
Muna Olanyi, Director of Academic Achievement
Muna 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. Prior to 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.”
Jessica Jackson, Director of Academic Achievement
Jessica Jackson is an experienced educator who began teaching in New York city as one of the first cohorts of Teaching Fellows. She loved being in the classroom but wanted to be closer to her family. After nine years of teaching, she went through the New Leaders program to become a principal, afterward accepting her first principalship with the ASD. She has now been in education over 15 years, always working in urban schools where the need for great teachers and leaders is high!
A native of Little Rock, AR, Jessica attended the University of Richmond and then Pace University, receiving her Master's Degree in Education. Jessica's grandmother fought to support desegregation during the Little Rock Central High crisis. She was part of the Women’s Emergency Committee educating others on the importance of diversity and respect. Like her grandmother, Jessica believes in equal access to high quality education. Jessica says, "It’s in my blood to do this work and I’m honored to have the opportunity to make a difference."
When asked why she chooses this work in our schools, Jessica says this: "Across Memphis there are so many communities in need of great schools; there are so many teachers and leaders working hard to make their schools great. It takes so much planning and preparation to make every minute of the day purposeful with students. My role as Director of Academic Achievement is to equip teachers and leaders in the work that they do, and I absolutely love what I do!
Donna Brigham, Director of Special Education
Bio coming soon!
Patricia Burns, Manager of Information and Business Systems
Patricia 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.