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20 years of Wye River Upper School

A History of Changing Lives

Dear Friends,

2022 marks an unprecedented time in the history of Wye River Upper School. It is our 20th anniversary –– a moment when we can reflect on our past triumphs and look forward to a bright future for this institution and its students.

Co-founder and former Head of School Chrissy Aull and co-founder Patricia McGlannan opened the doors to Wye River Upper School in September 2002. Nearly 20 years later, this school has supported the academic growth of almost 900 students with learning differences. We applaud the tenacity and vision of the founders of Wye River Upper School and honor all the sacrifices they made to make this school a reality.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "perseverance" as the quality that allows someone to continue working to achieve something even though it is difficult. Our students, faculty, staff, and Board of Trustees embody the spirit of perseverance. Wye River Upper School is unlike any other school in a 70-mile radius. We provide a critical service. We specialize in educating neurodiverse children, especially those with Attention Deficit Hyperactive/Inattentive Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and Dyslexia/Dysgraphia. Over the last two decades, we have provided a top-tier education to unique students who have these learning differences. In partnership with their parents and education professionals, we've designed a specialized academic program that continues to stretch and grow the intellectual curiosity of our students.

As educators dedicated to excellence, we are committed to giving our students the best education possible. We steadily grow our knowledge base and toolkit by engaging in professional development opportunities onsite and throughout the nation. 50% of our staff hold master's degrees, and all of them are dedicated to learning and growing in the profession. In the last 20 years, our program offerings have grown to include Chesapeake Bay Studies, Physics, and Honors Humanities courses. We created an entire building for our MakerSpace curriculum and we continue to develop project-based and student-centered courses for each subject. We know we are doing something right because Wye River Upper School alumni have become leaders in their workplaces and communities. In nearly 20 years, we have distinguished ourselves as a place where seeds of dreams blossom.

As Wye River Upper School prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary, let us continue to persevere, guided by our mission to change the lives of high school students who think and learn outside the box. As the new head of school, I've found this community joy-filled, hard-working, and supportive. With your continued support, we will be able to provide this essential academic programming to many more deserving students for decades to come.

Thank you for all you do to support our community. I look forward to celebrating 20 years of extraordinary accomplishments and sharing my vision for the future with you.

Best,

Stephanie Borges Folarin, Head of School

Three gifted and talented male high school students lean over a book to read together inside of a classroom.
Two male students with learning differences show Chrissy Aull how to use a 3D printer inside of the Middendorf MakerSapce.
Stephanie Folarin stands with new students inside of the Armory building gym during freshman orientation.

Timeline of Changing Lives

Male student writes on the classroom white board.
Female teacher works with a class of twice exceptional students at the Chesapeake College campus.
An audience applauds our first graduating class, standing before them in blue and white caps and gowns at Chesapeake College.
Tom Seip, John Devlin, Harry "Stoney" Duffey, Jij Duffey, and Chrissy Aull symbolically build the school by placing a brick with motor in front of the Centreville National Guard Armoy.
The National Guard Armory in Centreville, Maryland before renovation.
A female and male student smile with their National Honor Society certificates.
Street view of the refurbished Armory building now serving as Wye River Upper School's central campus in Centreville, MD.
Two male students look at their robotics project for the Middendorf MakerSpace.
Adelaide Eckhardt, Alexa Siep, and John Valliant, Executive Director of the Grace B. Kerr Fund, cut the ribbon for Middendorf MakerSpace's ribbon cutting ceremony.
Chrissy Aull thanks the Middendorf Foundation and Grayce B. Kerr Fund Inc. for their generous contribution to the Middendorf MakerSpace during the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Chrissy Aull reaches for a can of food as she and two other students stock the food pantry outside of St. Paul's Church in Centreville, MD.
Screen shot of 6 students and 2 teachers in class during virtual learning
Portrait photograph of Stephanie Folarin, Head of School, in front of the main hallway stairs.
Grid of headshots of 18 high school graduates wearing their blue and yellow caps and gowns.

2002

Wye River Upper School was Founded by Chrissy Aull and Patricia McGlannan

2005

Wye River's First Graduating Class

2008

Wye River Begins Looking For a New Home

2010

WRUS purchases Centreville National Guard Armory Building for school expansion and receives first AIMS Accreditation

2012

The Kathleen White Chapter National Honor Society is Established

2014

The Doors Open at the Centreville National Guard Armory Building

2017

Makerspace is Established

2019

Makerspace Opens Its Doors

2020

January: Chrissy Aull Announces Retirement

March: COVID - WRUS Goes Remote

2021

Stephanie Borges Folarin Announced as New Head of School

2022

Wye River Upper School Celebrates 20 years of changing the lives of gifted and talented students with learning differences.

As their 8th-grade children approach middle school graduation, Chrissy Aull and Patricia McGlannan find themselves in a predicament. They don't know which high school will serve their unique children best. There are no specialty high schools from the Eastern Shore to Baltimore to serve their children with ADHD and Anxiety, so Chrissy and Patricia decide to create the school themselves.

Beginning with nine students, three teachers, and two administrators, Wye River Upper School opens at Chesapeake College. Renting classroom space in the Eastern Shore Higher Education Center affords them use of the college's sports fields and library.

The journey to changing the lives of hundreds of students who learn differently begins!

13 Students Served from 2002-2003
195 Students Served from 2002-2008

Wye River Upper School holds its first Commencement Ceremony at Chesapeake College with a graduating class of five students, in May 2003.

In WRUS' history, we've seen almost 20 graduating classes - take a look at some of our graduations!

Wye River Upper School realizes it needs a new home. With six potential sites to visit, the Board of Trustees determines the historic and abandoned Centerville National Guard Armory is the right location.

A $1,000,000 grant from The State of Maryland kicked off the Capital Campaign to purchase the building.

Wye River Upper School receives enough funding to purchase the Armory building and begins the remodeling work.

Wye River Upper School also earns its first AIMS (Association of Independent Maryland Schools) accreditation.

11 Graduates in the Class of 2010
272 Students Served from 2002-2010

Wye River Upper School offers students the opportunity to participate in the National Honor Society (NHS).

Students selected to be a part of the NHS are held to a standard of exemplary grades, good citizenship, service, and leadership.

15 Graduates in the Class of 2012
318 Students Served from 2002-2012

By the time the doors open at the Armory, the Capital Campaign raised $5,500,0000 towards $6,000,000. The building transforms from an abandoned historical site to a pristine school through a determined vision and an architect with the heart and willpower to help renovate. The Armory is now home to Wye River Upper School, with intact historical integrity.

7 Graduates in the Class of 2014
408 Students Served from 2002-2014

Wye River Upper School searches for a way to offer more hands-on learning opportunities for our students. Through a generous grant from the Middendorf Foundation, the school purchases a home next to the historic Armory turned school building and begins work to transform the family home into a Makerspace for students.

10 Graduates in the Class of 2017
427 Students Served from 2002-2017

Wye River Upper School opens the doors to the Middendorf MakerSpace!

The MakerSpace offers students the opportunity to build, create, design, and learn through hands-on learning and real-life problem-solving. Students learn woodworking, metalworking, culinary skills, sewing, laser cutting, 3D printing, and much more in this space.

The Middendorf MakerSpace would not be possible without the generosity of The Middendorf Foundation, Grayce B. Kerr Fund, Inc., and the individual supporters of Wye River Upper School.

12 Graduates in the Class of 2019
668 Students Served from 2002-2019

After 18 years of building and evolving Wye River Upper School, Chrissy Aull announces her retirement as the Head of School.

She remains a beloved member of our community.

Our in-person learning had to transition to virtual education during the global pandemic, so our staff worked quickly and innovatively to build virtual classrooms that worked for our unique students.

8 Graduates in the Class of 2020
738 Students Served from 2002-2020

After an extensive executive leadership search, Stephanie Borges Folarin is named the new Head of School starting in the 2021-2022 school year.

When she discovered Wye River Upper School, Stephanie says it was her "dream school" come to life.

Her extensive experience in special education, curriculum design, and program enhancement make her the perfect leader to steer the school into the future. In addition to her strong background in education, Stephanie brings a passionate heart for students with learning differences - as well as a fresh perspective to our school's path forward. Her contagious positivity and energy continue to bring Wye River to new heights.

11 Graduates in the Class of 2021
797 Students Served from 2002-2021

18 Graduates in the Class of 2022

The Class of 2022 marks the 19th graduating class at Wye River Upper School - and the largest graduating class to date!

18 Graduates in the Class of 2022
827 Total Students Served Across 20 Years

Senator Adelaide Eckardt presented an official citation on behalf of the The Maryland General Assembly on the evening of October 1, 2022 in recognition of Wye River Upper School's 20 years of dedication to changing the lives of students with learning differences through quality education tailored to each student's own unique talents and ambition. 

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