Head of School Search

Announcement from Board Chair, Alexa Seip

Announcement from Founding Head of School, Chrissy Aull

Interim Head of School Announced

The following tentative timeline and actions will mark the process to hire a new Head of Wye River Upper School:

  • April-May 2020: Begin the process of the full Head of School Search (which will include community involvement - surveys, focus groups, Advisory Committee)
  • Summer 2020: Interview Head candidates
  • Early fall 2020: Head of School finalists visit the school
  • Mid-fall 2020: Announce new Head of School

Opportunity Statement

Wye River Upper School (WRUS), an independent school located in Centreville, Maryland on the Eastern Shore serving bright students with learning differences, is seeking an experienced, permanent Head of School to begin July 1, 2021.

The Opportunity

WRUS is a co-ed college-preparatory high school that provides an individualized and supportive education to approximately 60 students in a low-stress yet challenging academic environment. WRUS was founded in 2002 by Chrissy Aull, who led the school for the past 18 years and retired in June of 2020. The school has hired an Interim Head of School for the 2020-2021 school year to provide stability, positivity, and continuity while we make the transition from our founding Head. The school is currently in a position of financial, programmatic, and leadership strength and seeks a seasoned independent school administrator to become our next Head of School.

WRUS Fast Facts

  • We currently serve 57 students.
  • We employ 20 faculty and staff.
  • We have a 4:1 student to teacher ratio.
  • Our average class size is 6-8 students.
  • Students and alumni have come from 12 counties across the region.
  • Approximately 50% our students come from the Eastern Shore and half come from west of the Bay and Delaware.
  • 50% of our faculty and staff hold graduate degrees.
  • Wye River is a non-profit-organization with 501(c)(3) status.
  • We are in good standing with AIMS (Association of Independent Schools)
  • Applications are accepted year-round; tuition is prorated based on student start date.
  • Wye River promotes dual enrollment for eligible juniors and seniors, enabling them to start earning college credits while still in high school.
  • College and postsecondary advising is offered throughout a student’s four years.
  • The majority of Wye River graduates attend 2 year and 4 year colleges. Our students have also found success in Gap Year Programs, Vocational Schools, the Military, the Coast Guard and Americorps.

WRUS Program and Curriculum

Wye River Upper School offers a challenging curriculum designed to meet the needs of bright students who learn differently, preparing them for successful scholarship and career beyond high school.

Authority for curriculum design, scope and sequence is given to department leaders and teachers. WRUS follows the Common Core Standards in language arts, social studies, and math. The Next Generation Science Standards and MSDE Core standards guide the science program. Performing and fine arts follow The Maryland Voluntary Curriculum. Emphasis is placed on real-world learning and helping students make higher-level connections between key concepts and applications within their communities - local and beyond. A significant portion of our classroom instruction is project-based, with focus on strengthening communication skills and collaboration among peers and instructors.

We build in strategies and opportunities to grow and strengthen our students’ social skills and emotional development. Our curriculum builds in strategies and opportunities for social growth through a focus on student collaboration, effective communication, and problem solving with peers. The Dean of Students provides direct social-emotional support as needed.

Our program includes a daily emphasis on personal wellness through competitive and non-competitive athletic programs.

Supporting Learning Differences

Students with executive functioning challenges are supported through daily study hall focusing on time management, organization and planning. Both faculty and staff implement targeted, data-informed strategies to support students in and out of the classroom.

Orton-Gillingham (OG) instruction is provided as needed for students with specific language-based learning challenges such as dyslexia. The OG program provides students a systematic, phonetics-based, multi-sensory approach to reading.

Every student’s academic achievement is monitored bi-annually using the Woodcock-Johnson Achievement Battery.

If a student demonstrates qualifying academic needs, a Student Development Plan is written by a special educator and serves as a comprehensive tool for faculty to identify instructional classroom strategies to strengthen student skills in specific areas of need.

WRUS Financial Position

WRUS has total assets of about $6,500,000, with $5,500,000 being in property and equipment and $1,000,000 in cash equivalents. We operate on a balanced annual budget of about $2,000,000. More than 50% of the students are full-pay. Financial assistance provided to other students is third-party adjudicated based on need and is consistently covered by financial aid fundraising. Annual debt service for the building restoration has been about $120,000 and is expected to drop to $60,000 beginning in 2020, based on refinancing opportunities. A five-year Strategic Financial Plan was adopted in 2019 that provides for a continuing balanced operating budget, maintaining appropriate cash reserves, servicing long term debt and modest endowment growth.

Head of School Candidate Qualities

Leadership and Personal Characteristics

  • A strategic thinker and visionary who models a growth mindset and is comfortable with change while respecting the importance of traditions and established culture.
  • A manager who empowers and inspires faculty and staff, provides opportunities for their growth and leadership, values a diversity of perspectives, is able to set clear expectations, and balances collaboration and decisiveness.
  • An exceptional communicator with the ability to share information clearly, completely and in a timely manner and who can make and convey thoughtful big-picture and/or difficult decisions with good judgment.
  • An approachable and engaging individual with exceptional interpersonal skills with both children and adults.
  • A culturally and emotionally competent person who actively cultivates and promotes a welcoming, inclusive, and connected community for all.
  • A servant-leader who models a “hands-on” work ethic and who creates followership by virtue of strong ethics, integrity, a clearly articulated vision, and genuine interest in and care for others.
  • A joyful and optimistic person with a good sense of humor.

Skills and Experience

  • At least five years of senior administrative and management experience in an educational setting; prior competence as a classroom teacher in a middle and/or secondary school is desired.
  • Broad and deep knowledge of child and adolescent development, leading practices in teaching and learning, and an understanding of current research and thinking in special education.
  • Strong business and financial judgment and the ability to partner with administrators and governance leaders in establishing creative solutions to financial challenges.
  • The ability to set and articulate clear goals and priorities; success implementing programmatic changes that balance progress and innovation with reflection and maintenance of beneficial traditions.
  • Demonstrated competence working with students with identified and unidentified learning differences including students with ADHD, Executive Functioning Challenges, and “high functioning” Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  • Experience establishing meaningful partnerships to support development and fundraising.
  • The ability to communicate the story of an institution to both current and prospective constituents in order to support marketing, admissions, and fundraising efforts.

WRUS Strengths

  • We are housed in a beautiful, purposefully designed building.
  • Our enrollment is stable and has been slowly growing over the past 3 years.
  • We are actively working to achieve a Strategic Plan that was developed in 2019.
  • We have a dedicated faculty with a strong mix of long-term and newer employees.
  • Our students are well-prepared for their chosen next step and go onto 2 and 4-year colleges as well as trade schools and the world of work.
  • Our working Board of Governors is fully engaged with the life of the school and committed to its long term success.

WRUS Opportunities

  • We are nearing capacity in our current building and will be exploring options for growth in the near future.
  • We are eager to expand our marketing efforts to recruit from a wider geographical area.
  • We are exploring ways to increase diversity and support equity and inclusion among our students and faculty.

How to Apply

Wye River Upper School offers a competitive salary and benefits commensurate with experience and qualifications.

Interested candidates are asked to provide a cover letter, resumé, a 1-2 page Educational Philosophy statement, and 5 professional references with name, phone number, and email for each (references will not be contacted without the candidate’s permission) to our Search Consultant Brooke Carroll at: brooke@aciesstrategies.com no later than September 1st, 2020.

Wye River Upper School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, employment policies, financial aid programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.