Faculty and Staff
A well-trained faculty, characterized by their individual commitment to the Mission of the School, is key to our success. Our faculty is vested in the development of the School through participation in School Leadership and key decision-making. Our teachers are trained in their content areas as well as in teaching strategies for serving students with diverse learning needs. Half of our faculty and staff hold graduate degrees. There are currently two special educators on the faculty. Five teachers and staff are trained in Orton Gillingham Reading Instruction. Every member of the faculty has been trained in the EmPower Writing Methodology and Mental Health First Aid.
Faculty and staff members may be reached by e-mail by clicking on their names.
Chrissy Aull, Founding Executive Director
Chrissy Aull was motivated to found the school having realized the need while a parent of a middle school-aged son and a special education teacher at Radcliffe Creek School. Chrissy and another mother set about organizing a small group of interested educators, parents and community members in January 2002. After nine months of preparation, the founding Board successfully opened the doors of Wye River in September 2002. Chrissy received a B.A./B.S.W. from Western Maryland College, and Masters in Special Education from Loyola College. She is trained to teach Orton Gillingham reading instruction, and previously taught reading and math. Chrissy has served as Chair of an AIMS reaccreditation committee and as member of two other committees. Mrs. Aull regularly speaks to local and regional organizations and has presented at national level to further awareness of the need for appropriate education for students with unique learning styles. She is a member of the Shore Leadership Class of 2005, who honored the school with their Leadership in Education Award and has been honored by the Easton chapter of the American Association of University Women. She is a past Senior Warden of St. Paul's Parish in Centreville where she remains active and served on the Centreville Economic Development Authority.
Jon Baker, Teacher - Language Arts
Jon Baker joins the WRUS family with an impressive work history and two Master's Degrees; one in English and one in Library & Information Science. In addition to teaching English Literature here in the US, he has also taught conversational English in South Korea. Over the years, Jon has led many outdoor programs for students including biking, hiking, skiing, and paddling. He believes in preparing students for a healthy life by sharing insights on nutrition, consciousness, and stress/anxiety reduction.
Cynthia Bayne, Teacher - Humanities
Cynthia Bayne earned a B.A. in Secondary Education from West Virginia Weslyan College, specializing in Social Studies and Dramatic Arts. She also holds a Maryland Educator Certificate. Cindy brings extensive experience from public and private settings as well as abroad to her Wye River students. In addition to teaching in Hong Kong and Korea, Cindy has lead learning expeditions to Thailand, New Zealand and Italy. While teaching in both middle and high schools, Cindy has been instrumental in developing engaging curriculum across content areas, structuring systems for mentorship and providing specific support for students with Executive Function needs. Cindy is dedicated to connecting with students and helping them become compassionate global citizens. Read more about Cindy on her welcome page.
Emma Beigel, Director of Development and Philanthropy
Emma Beigel holds a B.S. in family and human development from Arizona State University. Previously Emma worked as the Director of Fundraising, special events and development for a professional ballet company in Indianapolis. After working as a development and communications associate at Wye River she has moved to the role of Director of Development and Philanthropy. She is enthusiastic about sharing all that Wye River Upper School's has to offer with the broader community.
Matthew Cowan, Director of Education
Matt Cowan holds a M.A. in Teaching from Marygrove College and a B.A. in Art History and Archeology from the University of Maryland. A veteran Wye River Social Studies teacher, Matt is returning after holding a position with Chesapeake Science Point Charter School in Hanover MD. In addition to his advisory and teaching responsibilities at CSP, he served as the Equity Leader for the school where he designed and executed professional development for his peers and strengthened delivery of innovative, equitable and data-driven classroom instruction. Matt led his students of all levels to earn the highest scores in the district on the Maryland HSA. At Wye River, Matt is passionate about leading educational programming, curricular design, teacher professional development, and classroom instruction.
Zara Cowan, Administrative Assistant
Zara Cowan comes with over 25 years of administrative assistance experience. She previously worked as a secretary for the Queen Anne’s County Department of Health and prior to that was executive administrative assistant at Victor O. Schinnerer. She is thrilled to be supporting both academic and administrative programs at Wye River Upper School.
Lawrie Dudley, Director of Business
Lawrie Dudley brings over 30 years of accounting and business management experience. She received her B.A. from Washington College. Lawrie also brings experience in sales and marketing from her real estate career with Coldwell Banker. She is delighted to support students, parents and staff through her skills in business and finance.
Karen Gilbert, Teacher - Language Arts
Karen Gilbert earned her BA in Education, as well as her Certificates of Teaching and Special Education from the University of Delaware. She gained her very diverse teaching background by working with students in Pennsylvania, California, Central America and Maryland. Karen enjoys a myriad of outdoor activities including kayaking, sailing, and cycling. She enjoys helping students to grow in their ability to problem solve and to become critical thinkers.
Katie Lillard, Teacher - Fine Art, Digital Art
Katie Lillard received a four-year Certificate in Figurative Painting from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and is currently working toward her MFA there. She has taught art at St. Andrew’s high school in Middletown, DE. She is an active artist, showing and selling her artwork throughout the eastern DE and PA region. Katie works in several mediums including painting, etching, and digital arts. She enjoys guiding her students toward discovering more about themselves and the world around them through creative expression.
James Martinez, Director of Makerspace and Project Based Learning (PBL)
James Martinez received his B.A. from Texas Tech University and an M.F.A. from the University of Delaware. He has taught fine arts at both University of Delaware and Delaware College of Art and Design. James teaches Design Technology and Project-Based Design at Wye River. He is leading the school in the development of a new Makerspace which will be a place for students and faculty to collaborate in the creation of hands-on projects utilizing high tech and low tech tools. James is the faculty advisor for PBL. He also supports students in portfolio development for graduation and college applications. James is a founding teacher at Wye River.
Lydia Meeks, Teacher- Social Studies
Lydia Meeks received her BA in History from College of Wooster. Following her BA, Lydia completed several post-graduate credits in teaching. Lydia has been with teaching, substituting, and tutoring for over 12 years. She is dedicated to bringing history to life and helping students to build connections between themselves and the past.
Kirsten Mosher, Math Coach and Teacher
Kirsten Mosher joins WRUS with over 30 years of experience that she gained by teaching middle and high school students in Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama. She attended the University of South Carolina where she earned her bachelor's degree in Economics, and later went on to gain her Teaching License in Mathematics and Certification for Highly Qualified Teaching in Middle/Secondary Mathematics. Kirsten is looking forward to helping students reach their fullest potential through participation in engaging learning experiences.
Marissa Muro, Teacher - Music and Theater Arts
Marissa Muro received her B.M. from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, Johns Hopkins University. Upon graduation, she appeared in the singing role of the “French Opera Singer” in the Disney film “Washington Square.” Marissa studied at the Hochschule fur Musik Detmold in Germany. She spent many years touring and teaching vocal workshops in Europe and South America. Marissa directs our annual musical and teaches theater arts, theater production, and music with a focus in voice.
Kimberleigh (Nichols) Garcia, Director of Enrollment Management and Communications
Kimberleigh Garcia holds a B.A. in music and English from McDaniel College where she concentrated in voice, composition, creative writing. Her master's’ equivalent is in education, graphic art and writing. Kim spent three years in the Dominican Republic in a bilingual school teaching English and music. She supports the School’s music program, lending her strength in vocals and music composition. Prior to teaching in the Dominican Republic, Kim taught courses in Spanish and English and was a high school choral director. She completed training in differentiation as well as Orton Gillingham reading instruction - a multi-sensory, phonics-based approach to teaching reading. Kim is eager to support the School's mission and build relationships with families in a new way as Director of Enrollment Management and Communications.
Paula Pavon, Dean of Students
Paula Pavon holds a B.A. and M.A. in psychology from Washington College and completed two years of study in education. She is certified in special education. Paula has supported the emotional and social well-being of teenagers in a variety of roles with experience working in Child Protective Services, private juvenile services, and child and family therapy. Paula believes in fostering student independence by finding the right balance of secure boundaries and self expression. She is enthusiastic about helping students feel accepted and appreciated.
Samantha Reed, Teacher - Math and Science
Samantha Reed teaches Algebra I, Biology, Anatomy and Physiology and Physics. She holds a B.S. in Education with a minor in mathematics from Salisbury University. Sam has several years' experience teaching mathematics and science for local public schools. Sam enjoys helping her students review and rebuild a strong foundation of math skills so that higher level concepts will stick. Sam is also certified as an Emergency Medical Technician and Fire Fighter.
Nicole Sophocles, College and Career Counselor, Academic Administrator
Nicole Sophocles holds a B.S. from the University of Miami and Masters in Education from the University of Maryland. She holds an Independent School Leadership Certificate from Johns Hopkins University, School of Education. Nicole is a founding teacher, and over the years she spearheaded a unique relationship with Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center which provided students with a variety of hands-on learning experiences. Nicole coordinates academic scheduling and provides guidance to students and families through college, career, and internship counseling.
Ron Vener, Athletic Director, Teacher - Health, Finance Math
Ron Vener holds a Bachelor of Science in health and physical education and a Masters of Science in instruction and curriculum. Ron has over 16 years' teaching and coaching experience in private and public schools. He has completed a Maryland State Administration Certificate. Ron has developed strong athletic programs over the years in his role as Athletic Director at two prior schools. In addition to his teaching duties, Ron has been instrumental in mentoring a number of our students in their potential career choices. Ron leads the very popular Personal Finance course, a year long credit course that supports students in mastering basic finance skills.
Lisa Walton, Teacher-Science
Lisa Walton holds a B.A. in Science from Sweet Briar College and an M.S. in Education from Johns Hopkins University. Lisa has taught high school students for several years in biology, chemistry, environmental science, and physical science. She holds her teaching certificate in science and has over 100 hours of professional development in project-based learning, modeling instruction, and other inquiry-based techniques. Lisa also worked in medical and higher education fields. She is passionate about providing real world relevance within a student-centered classroom.
Colleen Williams, Advancement and Communications Associate
Colleen Williams received a B.S. in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism with a concentration in Recreation Therapy, Outdoor Recreation, and Tourism Management from Radford University, and a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education, in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University. She is currently the volunteer Mid-Atlantic Regional Chair for the Association for Experiential Education, in which she has a huge passion for sharing the vision of hands on educational learning. Over the years Colleen has had the opportunity to work in a variety of educational and recreational settings. She’s excited to bring her knowledge and past experiences to Wye River Upper School, and hopes to build upon the creative opportunities the school is continuously providing.