School Founder Fellows
This year’s Fellows are planning their schools as part of The Drexel Fund’s Founders Program. The first application period for the 2020-21 cohort opens September 1 with the first application deadline December 1.

Kevin Clark
The Ecclesial Schools, Orlando, Fla.

An experienced Christian educator and recognized academic leader, Kevin is captivated by a vision of a flourishing human life—a life characterized by knowledge and discernment, fruitful and dignified work, and humble service undertaken for the common good. He possesses a sense of calling to make this vision accessible to all children, regardless of financial means. This vision and calling led him to found The Ecclesial Schools initiative, a network of financially accessible private Christian schools serving families in the Orlando metro area.

Kevin brings over 17 years of experience to this founding endeavor, including 15 years at The Geneva School in Winter Park, Fla., where he served as an upper school faculty member and academic dean. At the national level, he serves as a fellow for The Society for Classical Learning, a board member of the Anglican Schools Association, and a teaching fellow for the M.A. in Classical Teaching at Eastern University’s Templeton Honors College.

Kevin earned a B.A. from the University of Central Florida, an M.A. from Reformed Theological Seminary, and a DLS from Georgetown University, where he wrote on liberal arts education and interdisciplinary practice. He is the coauthor of the book The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education. In addition to Drexel’s Founders Program, he has been selected as a Founder with the Spreading Hope Network.

Egleevelyn Nunez-Sancristobal
STARS Global Preparatory, Miami, Fla.

Egleevelyn Nunez- Sancristobal, the Founder, and Principal at STARS Autism School in Miami, Fla., is an inspirational leader. She motivates teachers and students alike to work hard, keep the right attitude, and be socially responsible. Under Egleevelyn’s leadership, STARS. Autism School has become a professional development academy for teachers, a family support system, and a safe place where students can learn and achieve.

Egleevelyn is building on her success as a school developer to design a new school model that will serve cognitively typical students and features community service and service learning as critical components of students’ lives at school. STARS Global Preparatory will feature partnerships with local businesses and charitable organizations, service learning, civic responsibility, and global awareness initiatives.

Egleevelyn has a B.A. in Special Needs from Nova Southeastern University, an M.S. in Autism from Florida International University, and is enrolled in a Doctoral program at Nova Southeastern University in Education Leadership.

Eric. N. Oglesbee, Ph.D.
South Bend Montessori High School, South Bend, Ind.

After witnessing the powerful effect of Montessori education in his son’s life, Eric changed careers in 2016 to build the Montessori Consortium of the Great Lakes (MCGL) at Good Shepherd Montessori School (GSMS) in South Bend, Indiana. The MCGL – whose mission is to advance educational best practices according to the vision of Dr. Maria Montessori – is currently engaged in multiple high-impact projects, one of which is to support the launch of South Bend Montessori High School (SBMHS).

SBMHS will be an urban, 60 student high school using the Montessori method to provide a faith-based education that develops the whole person and which prepares students for the next stage of life, whether that is college, trade school, or something else; at least one-third of the seats within the high school will be for low-income families. The curriculum developed will engage students in real work that allows each person to discover his or her life calling and develop the necessary dispositions needed to thrive in a 21st-century economy.

Leading the curriculum development effort is Eric’s co-founder, Eileen Mariani. Eileen is a former high school science teacher and AMS-credentialed Montessori guide with 13 years of teaching experience at Good Shepherd Montessori School. Eric possesses a Ph.D. and M.A. in General Linguistics from Indiana University as well as a B.A. from Bethel University (Indiana) with a double major in Mathematics and Biblical Literature.

Ayana Verdi
Verdi EcoSchool, Melbourne, Fla.

In 2016, Ayana Verdi established Verdi EcoSchool to provide hands-on educational experiences for children in the historic Eau Gallie Arts District in Melbourne, Fla. Created, originally, to offer enrichment options for homeschool families, the Verdi EcoSchool quickly grew to become the first K-8 urban farm school in the southeastern United States. As part of the educational program, the classroom extended to unique settings: exploring the waters of the local Indian River Lagoon, learning about restorative agriculture on a community garden and creating replicas of ancient First Nations tools in ceramics classes at the Foosaner Art Museum and Education Center.

Ayana is extending her successful K-8 program and is founding a new high school model which incorporates hands-on, immersive learning through practical, real-world internships. The high school will continue to build on the foundations of the urban garden K-8 that emphasize understanding ecology, community partnerships, and individualized learning. In addition, the high school will feature partnerships with universities and other institutions working to create sustainable agriculture and protect the environment. 

Ayana’s educational and professional journey has included studies in both the United States and New Zealand as she pursued a degree in Veterinary Medicine while operating a canine wellness spa in New York City. Inspired by the nature-based school her son attended while she lived and studied in New Zealand, Ayana is committed to cultivating a community based and environmentally aware educational options for children.

 2018-19 Fellows
 2017-18 Fellows
  • Kevin Festerling, Kingdom Prep, Milwaukee, Wis.
  • Mark Martin, Build UP, Birmingham, Ala.
  • Sala Sims, STEMSpring Academy, Tampa, Fla.
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