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What's Up Magazine

Chrissy Aull

Jan 24, 2013 09:25PM ● By Anonymous

The Shore lifer, who grew up in Kennedyville and now resides in Grasonville, had a “spontaneous meeting with another RCS parent, Patricia McGlannan, at the Queenstown Outlets in January of 2002,” recalls Aull. That meeting became the foundation for a new high school. “Mothers can move mountains,” says Aull, and indeed she did, forming a Board, reaching out to professionals for their pro bono services, applying to Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), creating an admissions application and marketing material, writing a curriculum, raising enough money to pay the security deposit and first month’s rent, and hiring three teachers. And only nine months later, the Wye River Upper School (WRUS) opened its doors to approximately nine students in leased space on the campus of Chesapeake College.

Today, Chrissy Aull serves as executive director of the WRUS, a non-profit, independent high school that educates bright students with learning differences— including attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, and Asperger syndrome. In the 10 years since its founding, the WRUS has graduated 61 young adults, most of whom have gone on to college, vocational training, or directly to employment; all of whom were students at risk of not graduating high school because of their learning differences.

Moving forward, Aull’s goal is to reach 75–100 high school students and accommodate that, WRUS will soon relocate to a permanent home, having purchased the Centreville National Guard Armory. A planned renovation of that space will require $5 million dollars and the Board is halfway to that goal. “Thus far, we have purchased the building, abated the hazardous materials, completed the design phase, and the building stands ‘shovel ready,’” says Aull. “I dream of the day we turn the key to open the doors on a totally renovated Wye River Upper School.”

“You can see tangible results every day in our student’s success...they have these wonderful, meaningful relationships with their teachers and staff, and those relationships are what gets them back on course and headed for success,” says Aull. “Despite the near daily stress, sacrifice, worry, insomnia and huge effort that is required to found and sustain a small private school, it is, at the end of the day, an incredible privilege to know we turn these kids’ lives 180 degrees.”