Four years ago, Christ United Methodist Church’s historic commitment to the importance of education for individual children and for the health of an entire community finally gave birth to Cornerstone Preparatory School.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to visit Cornerstone Prep

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to visit Cornerstone Prep

The school had been in the works under the leadership of Drew Sippel, who had been leading the local outreach of the church–particularly in the community of Binghampton. After a long, fruitful season of involvement in Binghampton community development through SOS and the Binghampton Development Corporation, the time became ripe to establish a school with the goal of ensuring that this economically under-resourced community did not go without access to proper education for its children.

And so Cornerstone Preparatory School was born.

Based on the marvelous success Cornerstone had in serving its students from its inception, only two years after it was established as a private school the Tennessee Achievement School District found in Cornerstone its solution for revamping the under-performing Lester Elementary School. Cornerstone thus entered a new era and took on its current identity as Cornerstone Prep-Lester Campus.

The school is now serving children in Pre-Kindergarten (funded in large part through individual donations from CUMC members through 2nd Mile: Binghampton) through grade 6.

High Test Scores at CornerstoneRecent test scores show Cornerstone performing among the nation’s best schools.

“We are so proud of our Prepsters and parents,” says Principal Lisa Settle, who has been with Cornerstone from the beginning. “Our Prepsters work diligently every day in their classroom and our parents are so supportive of us at home and at the school. These test results prove what is possible when everyone works together to provide children a great education.”

Because of Christ United Methodist Church’s support of Cornerstone, the school is not only effecting exactly the type of change in the lives of local students as intended–it is also gaining a national influence.

We are so pleased to announce that this Wednesday, September 10, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and senior officials from the U.S. Department of Education will visit Cornerstone Prep, which was selected from among all the schools in Memphis as the place where Secretary Duncan will discuss the changes in education and the challenges that accompany them. The choice to visit  Cornerstone Prep highlights it as a champion of education reform.

“This is a momentous occasion to recognize teachers, parents, community members, and others who are leading the effort to improve education in our city,” says Executive Director Drew Sippel. “We are certainly honored by this visit.”

Follow Secretary Duncan’s social media accounts for updates on his trip to Memphis: On Twitter @arneduncan and on Facebook at

The daily success of Cornerstone Prep depends largely on the service of volunteers.

There is much need for a variety of tasks at Cornerstone.

Visit to find out how you can be a part of the story of Cornerstone.


%d bloggers like this: