Quality teachers produce exceptional student results. The single most important factor driving student success is quality teachers. At Grizzlies Prep, our dedicated and invested expert teachers prepare, deliver and assess high quality, rigorous lessons. By ardently recruiting devoted, high performing teachers with a record of classroom success and exceptional leadership, Grizzlies Prep ensures our teachers are some of the best in the nation, guaranteeing our young men receive an unrivaled education that puts them on a path to college success. Instructors at Grizzlies Prep will continue to improve as they are observed and conference weekly with the Director of Curriculum & Instruction or School Director so that Grizzlies Prep instruction, while already beginning at a high level, is always improving. Below, you'll find more information about our Administrative Team:
Parker Couch - School Director
Parker Couch was born July 2nd, 1988 in Gainesville, Ga—chicken capital of the world—to Kim and Wendell Couch. Growing up he enjoyed directing his younger bothers and sister in various plays and movies whenever he could get his hands on his mother’s camcorder. From 3rd-8th grade, he played competitive basketball almost year round until he injured his knee right before his 9th grade year. While he doesn’t competitively play sports anymore, you can find him almost daily cheering on his favorite sports teams: the Atlanta Falcons, the Atlanta Hawks, and the Atlanta Braves.
While attending the University of Georgia as an English Major, Parker began developing a new passion—teaching. Though still a full time student, he volunteered 20 hours a week for a local high school’s drama department where he directed shows and led workshops. He began to see the power of a positive learning environment, community, and rigorous challenges. After college, Parker accepted a teaching position in Memphis, TN where he taught 7th grade Reading/Language Arts. He is incredibly excited for the challenges that lie ahead in Grizzlies Prep, but mostly he is excited about the incredible growth each student will be making!
Ben Crowe - Director of Finance & Operations
Ben Crowe is a lifelong resident of Shelby County, Tennessee. He attended Collierville public schools from kindergarten through high school and graduated from the University of Memphis, earning a B.A. in Political Science and History. During high school and college, he worked as a veterinary technician at a local animal hospital. He graduated from the University of Memphis School of Law in 2011, passed the Tennessee bar exam, and spent two years practicing law. He decided to switch gears to education because he wanted to have a more direct and positive impact on the Memphis community.
Since deciding to transition from courtroom to classroom, Ben has immersed himself in the teaching profession with the same fervor he had while studying and practicing law. He feels extremely fortunate and excited to have the opportunity to help mold the scholars at Grizz Prep into intelligent, insightful young men as they prepare for college and beyond.
Most of Ben’s free time is spent with his wife and infant daughter. He has two dogs (Delta and Hooper) that demand attention and two cats (Chester and Pippi) that could not care less about him. He is a diehard fan of the Memphis Grizzlies and Memphis Tigers (football and basketball), and while no one would mistake him for an athlete, he tries to play basketball and softball. Other interests include traveling and learning about the world, reading, and watching as many movies as possible.
James Aycock - Director of Scholar Support
James Aycock hails from middle Georgia, but has spent most of the last thirteen years in Memphis. James is the proud father of Dylan (age 7) and Janie (age 5), and the proud husband of Holly. Before joining Grizzlies Prep, he served as founding Special Education Coordinator with Tennessee's Achievement School District, after several years as a special educator and baseball coach in the Frayser community with Memphis City Schools.
In his spare time, James writes about education policy and practice for Bluff City Education; his work has also been featured by the Tennessee Department of Education, the Tennessee Charter School Center, the State Collaborative On Reforming Education (SCORE), and Think Inclusive. James holds a graduate degree in ethics from Emory University and an undergraduate degree in religion from Mercer University, and he entered the classroom through Memphis Teaching Fellows. James believes in the power of a Greek burger from Alex's Tavern.
Jennifer Benton - Director of Culture
Jennifer Benton was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, but was raised in Vaiden,Mississippi where she fell in love with sports. In high school she excelled in track and basketball. Ms. Benton received a basketball scholarship to the University of North Alabama. As a senior she transferred to Mississippi Valley State University where she earned her bachelor's degree in Social Work. During her career she has worked as a business manager and as a Physical Education teacher. Most recently, she served as scholarship counselor at a private school in Memphis. she has been married for sixteen years and has two sons, ages 8 and 15. Ms. Benton is excited to join Grizzlies Prep team!
Missy Couch - Director of Student Affairs
Melissa Couch was born and raised in Austin, Texas. She attended the University of Texas at Austin where she earned her degree in Human Development and Family Sciences. During college she was involved in Young Life and made sure to attend as many UT football games as possible. Finally ready for the adventure of a new city, she moved to Memphis, TN to teach 8th grade science. Since being in Memphis, she has enjoyed the food, festivals, and people! During her free time she meets with friends for coffee, helps with the youth group at church, goes to movies and spends time outside. She is excited to be the academic advisor at Grizzlies Prep because it will allow her to do her favorite thing which is to build relationships with the scholars and their families!
Jasmine Hicks - Instructional Coach
Jasmine Hicks is a native Memphian. She attended The University of Memphis where she received her bachelor's degree in Spanish. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in Secondary Education. Jasmine knew education was her passion while working as a middle school tutor and mentor at Lester Middle School during her college years. Along with her love of learning and passion for teaching, she brings leadership skills and knowledge acquired through management experience. Jasmine is dedicated to improving the education system in Memphis and plans to eventually work in education reform and policy.
John McGreger - Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Ever since high school, John McGreger knew he wanted to be a history and social studies teacher to encourage young minds to think about the world in new ways. John graduated from the gone-but-not-forgotten Lambuth University in Jackson, TN with a degree in History. During his time at Lambuth, John served as President of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and was involved with several other campus organizations.
John went on to receive his Masters of Arts and Teaching from the University of Memphis and has been teaching ever since. John spends his weekends hanging out with his wife Shannon and his dog Gizmo, watching movies and enjoying photography.
Sawyer Schafbuch - Director of Advancement
Sawyer Schafbuch was raised in the rural landscape of Ames, IA. He comes from a family of nine to which he contributes his love for community and activity. As a youth, Sawyer’s interests varied between the outdoors, sports, and art projects. At age 11 he took guitar lessons from a local worship leader who altered the course of his life. In high school Sawyer spent all his free time outside of football, track, and baseball, playing music and forming bands.
His interest in music sent him to Memphis in 2008 to pursue a bachelor in guitar at Visible Music College. He graduated in 2011 and currently directs the Visible Community Music School teaching private lessons and afterschool music programs. Sawyer is the founding music teacher at Grizzlies Prep and focuses on discovering and developing musical ability in scholars through a well-rounded and exciting musical education.
Tessa Silvestri Higgins - Special Education Coordinator
Tessa Silvestri Higgins was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She earned a B.A. in English, writing concentration at Messiah College and received her Master’s degree in special education at the University of Minnesota. Throughout her teaching career, Tessa taught in China, Arkansas, Virginia, Minnesota, and now, Tennessee. She is a 2006 Teach for America Alumnus and is happy to help students create their own school newspaper at Grizzlies Prep this year.
Taylor Tartera - Instructional Coach
Taylor Tartera was born and raised in Memphis, TN. He graduated from Christian Brothers University in May of 2013 with a degree in English for Corporate Communications and minors in Political Science and Global Studies. During his undergraduate time at CBU, he served as president of his fraternity, Kappa Sigma, and also served on the Student Government as the Vice-President of Senate and then President. He is currently working on his Master's in Art's in Teaching program at Christian Brothers and plans to graduate with his M.A.T in July of 2014.
He has nine brothers and sisters, one being his twin brother, Andy. He loves to travel; he has gone to Barcelona, Spain, Carcassonne, and most recently France with his girlfriend. They are planning a trip to Rome in May 2014. He also enjoys playing with his puppy Heidi.
The members of the Grizzlies Prep Governing Body represent a cross-section of dedicated and experienced educators, community leaders, business and organizational leaders from our community. They ensure the fulfillment of Grizzlies Prep’s mission to provide and execute the high quality, comprehensive educational program that will prepare our students to thrive in college.
Meeting times for future Board meetings and the meeting minutes and agendas from past board meetings are posted here.
Dr. Lou Arrindell
Dr. Lou Arrindell is a neonatologist practicing with East Memphis Neonatology at Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women and Baptist DeSoto. A Memphis native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Princeton University and a medical degree from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
Samantha Chase teaches 7th and 8th grade English at Collegiate School of Memphis and is a Teach For America alumna. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of Memphis.
Channin Cochrane - Board Member
Channin is Grizzlies Prep's parent community representative to be Board.
Ross Glotzbach - Board Chair
Ross Glotzbach is a research analyst and partner at Southeastern Asset Management. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in business from Princeton University.
Upon receiving his Bachelor’s in Geography and Sports Management at the University of California Santa Barbara, Joel Katz left Southern California to join the Memphis Grizzlies Foundation in 2010. Joel created the Grizzlies TEAM Mentor Program, the GrizzFit initiative, and today he serves as Sr. Manager of Youth Sports Partnerships. Merging both a love for sport and impact Joel’s current role helps to ensure every child has access to a quality coach to guide him or her to success in school, sports and life.
Cordell Walker was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and has been the Executive Director of Alpha Omega Veterans Services since 1988. He received bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Iowa and The Pennsylvania State University respectively, and majored in Counselor Education with a minor in Psychology at both institutions.
Tracee Walls is the Education Program Advisor for FedEx on its Global Citizenship Team. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Memphis.
Glenda Yarbrough - Board Secretary
Glenda Yarbrough is the Program Director at The Poplar Foundation. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from the University of Memphis.
Mr. Followell has a BSEE from the University of Missouri (1971). He has owned and operated three small businesses (Airdusco Inc, Exact Mixing Systems and Moltan Company) with the help of his wife Cheryl. They have four children and seven grandchildren.