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Meet Brandie Burkhalter of Cornerstone Crossroads Academy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brandie Burkhalter.

Brandie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
During late 2013, I was in between jobs. My pastor told me about an opening at Cornerstone Crossroads Academy (CCA). The position was to facilitate the school’s online program. I eagerly applied, and I was invited for an interview/visit. When I visited the school for the Christmas open house, I felt so at home. Unfortunately, I did not get the position.

In the summer of 2014, I met with Kristi Lichtenberg, the director of the school. Kristi offered me a position as the volunteer coordinator. In August, I began working with volunteers to meet various needs at the school, such as tutoring, providing meals, and praying for the students. Over time, I began to assist with other things, including administrative tasks, social media, and event planning.

After two years as the Volunteer Coordinator, I became the Director of Engagement. I work with our volunteers, assist with development, oversee our communications, plan events, and connect with our community partners. In other words, I focus on the various ways that people can engage with the CCA community.

So far, it’s been four of the most amazing, humbling, challenging, productive, growth-filled, Christ-centered years of my life.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’d be lying if I said that it’s been a smooth road. As with anything in life, there have definitely been challenges.

While there are many challenges, one of the greatest for me is knowing and seeing what our students go through. Some are homeless, others deal with family conflict. Some have health concerns, some have experienced abuse, some have major responsibilities. Many of them face several barriers to completing their education. I am often in awe of their resiliency. I know that they are overcomers, but it can be so tough to see them hurting or struggling.

Cornerstone Crossroads Academy – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Cornerstone Crossroads Academy is a second-chance high school that provides students with another opportunity to earn their diploma. The mission is CCA is to develop urban youth through transformative education, equipping future leaders for Christ.

While CCA is a school, it’s much more than that. We’re a family, and we seek to holistically serve our students. We focus on spiritual life, academics, case management, and leadership development.

CCA is a faith-based school. We pray and discuss the Bible. We have Bible Studies and we seek to exemplify Jesus in word and deed. We want our students to earn their high school diplomas, but more importantly, we want to expose them to the love, hope, and abundant life that is found in Jesus Christ.

When it comes to academics, we utilize a blended learning model where students work on classes in a computer lab setting and take teacher-led classes. Our curriculum is based on the guidelines of both the state of Texas and our accrediting body, the Association of Christian Schools International.

We know that for many of our students, the barriers they face in life have impacted their education. Through our life coaching and case management program, we seek to address those concerns. Each student has a life coach who they meet with weekly. We also have a case manager who helps students with needs such as eye exams and dental visits, housing, and college applications.

Our desire is that our students would become leaders in their community. We have a leadership development class, and our student’s complete community service hours, both independently and with the entire school.

I am most proud of the way that lives are transformed at CCA. This extends far beyond the students, but also to our staff, volunteers, family, and friends.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I would have to say that my proudest CCA moment was starting a new tradition. As you can imagine, graduation is a momentous occasion for the Cornerstone Crossroads Academy community.

When it came time for graduation my first year, I proposed a new event to complement the festivities – a senior dinner. I recalled the commencement activities from my high school days and thought it would be such a sweet way to end the year. And it has been for the past three school years!

We invite our graduating seniors and their families to enjoy one last time of food and fellowship. Each year, we’ve had a tremendous amount of help from volunteers. We’ve seen such generosity from our friends at Cohost Catering who has catered delicious meals from local restaurants. One of our seniors speaks, and we also invite a previous graduate to come and encourage the soon-to-be alums.

Then, we open the floor for what always turns into the most amazing moment – anyone who wants to speak gets a chance to share. It’s supposed to be two minutes per remark. Someone always goes over, but we never mind. We have seen parents, students, and staff pour out their hearts and share how God has worked in their lives through CCA.

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