Principal Wayne Sims: Building bridges to success at Cornerstone Crossroads Academy

Story by Diana Saleh. Video by Jedarrian Jones and Angelica Villa. Photos provided by CCA.

Cornerstone Crossroads Academy (CCA) stands as a testament to the power of education in transforming lives, particularly for teens and young adults impacted by incarceration and adversity. At the heart of this transformative journey is Principal Wayne Sims, whose unwavering dedication reflects the academy’s commitment to creating a nurturing educational space.

Principal Sims’ journey from Atlanta, Georgia, to CCA is deeply intertwined with a passion for empowering young individuals. Inspired by his father’s work with the Department of Juvenile Justice, Wayne embarked on a mission to provide a second chance for those navigating the challenges of reintegration into society.

Wayne Sims, Principal at Cornerstone Crossroads Academy.

“I saw the struggles faced by young people trying to rejoin society after minor offenses,” shares Principal Sims. “It ignited a fire within me to make a difference.”

After joining Teach for America in 2015, Sims found himself in Oak Cliff, Texas, where he fell in love with the community’s spirit and resilience. It was here that he discovered CCA, a symbol of hope for urban youth seeking to break free from the cycle of incarceration and adversity.

“At CCA, we believe in the transformative power of education,” Principal Sims affirms. “Our mission is to equip urban youth with the tools to become leaders in their communities.”

The academy’s holistic approach addresses the multifaceted needs of its students, providing not only academic support but also comprehensive services to address barriers to success. From academic tutoring and vocational training to counseling and mentorship, CCA offers a safe and supportive environment for students to thrive. This commitment is reflected in the fact that 70 percent of students “successfully completed the year by graduating or continuing with enrollment.” By preparing students for college and career success, CCA is helping to break cycles of incarceration and adversity, opening doors to brighter futures for its graduates.

Cornerstone Crossroads Academy at the Phillis Wheatley School.

“Education is just the beginning,” Principal Sims emphasizes. “We provide wraparound services to ensure our students have access to the resources they need to succeed.”

The recent renovation of the Phillis Wheatley school represents a significant milestone for CCA. The revitalized space serves as more than just a physical campus; it symbolizes hope and opportunity for the surrounding community.

“With our expanded facilities, we can serve more students and offer a hub for community empowerment initiatives,” Principal Sims explains. “It’s about creating a space where everyone feels valued and supported.”

The impact of CCA’s work is evident in the stories of transformation that unfold within its walls. Students like Jamal, who once faced insurmountable obstacles, now find themselves on paths of success and leadership. By empowering individuals to overcome adversity and reach their full potential, CCA is not only changing lives but also strengthening communities.

Jamal's Story

Jamal’s journey from the streets to servant leadership epitomizes the transformative impact of CCA. At just 20 years old, Jamal’s life was entrenched in poverty, family violence, and the harsh realities of street life. Forced into selling and using drugs to survive, Jamal’s path was one of necessity rather than choice. However, everything changed when his mother sought a fresh start in Dallas, leading Jamal to the Men of Nehemiah, an organization aiding men recovering from addiction and homelessness.

With the support of Men of Nehemiah, Jamal found his way to CCA, where he discovered a lifeline to a brighter future. Despite having no formal education beyond middle school and reading at a fourth-grade level, Jamal thrived in CCA’s small-group classes, buoyed by individualized support and encouragement. With determination and perseverance, he earned his high school diploma, marking a pivotal milestone in his journey of transformation.

Armed with newfound confidence and skills, Jamal embarked on a path of service and leadership. Today, he serves as a mentor for others, demonstrating the power of education and resilience in overcoming adversity. Jamal’s story is a testament to the unwavering commitment of CCA to uplift and empower every student, regardless of their past or circumstances.

Looking ahead, CCA is committed to further expanding its impact and reaching more young people in need. “Our aspirations extend beyond the classroom,” Principal Sims shares. “We aim to eliminate barriers to education and empower students to reach their full potential.”

As a philanthropically funded institution, CCA relies on the support of the community to fulfill its mission. “Whether through financial contributions, volunteering, or simply spreading the word, every act of kindness makes a difference,” Principal Sims says.

In a world where every young person deserves a chance to thrive, Cornerstone Crossroads Academy stands as a beacon of hope, guided by the unwavering dedication of Principal Wayne Sims and the entire CCA community. Together, they continue to transform lives and uplift communities, one student at a time.