Major Kerr Fund Grant Supports WRUS MakerSpace

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WRUS students collaborated with local artist Sue Stockman to create a permanent mosaic.

An innovative MakerSpace project at Centreville’s Wye River Upper School (WRUS), has been greatly strengthened by a $120,000 grant from the Grayce B. Kerr Fund, Inc. of Easton, Maryland. This new grant to the independent school for bright students who learn differently will augment a recent $100,000 grant for the capital portion of the MakerSpace project from Baltimore’s Middendorf Foundation by helping to support faculty who will lead the project over the next three years.

The WRUS Board of Trustees is pleased to announce this grant to the student-centered “design and build” educational experience set to launch in the 2018-19 school year.

The Grayce B Kerr Fund’s president, John Valliant said, “The Trustees of the Grayce B. Kerr Fund, Inc. are pleased to assist Wye River Upper School in this exciting addition to their dynamic curriculum. Innovative programs like this are what keeps WRUS as a leader in providing a quality education experience to those with learning differences.”

WRUS Board Chair Alexa Seip commented, “The Grayce B. Kerr Fund is a remarkable asset for the Mid-Shore community and beyond. At WRUS, the Kerr Fund has enabled many deserving students to experience transforming opportunities as they prepare to take their place as contributing citizens in the future.  We at WRUS are most grateful for this generous support from the Kerr Fund.”

The WRUS MakerSpace at 318 S. Commerce Street in Centreville, MD will be located adjacent to the school’s main structure, a historically renovated former Maryland National Guard Armory. With funding from the Middendorf Foundation, work is underway to prepare the structure to accommodate the equipment and tools needed for a MakerSpace.

WRUS Executive Director Chrissy Aull explains, “A MakerSpace is similar to what we used to call  ‘shop’, with some big differences. It is a gender-neutral space equipped with low tech and high tech “design and build” equipment and tools where students, instead of being told what to build, are encouraged to collaborate in identifying issues or needs, creating possible designs to address the need, and then fabricating the object. We will have 3D printers and laser cutters as well as more low-tech hand and power tools, and will weave design opportunities throughout the entire curriculum. We see this MakerSpace as an engaging way to prepare our students for the demands of college and careers.”

WRUS students, staff and visiting artist Sue Stockman designed and constructed a mosaic mural.

Art and Technology Instructor James Martinez, a WRUS teacher since the school’s founding, will lead the design and use of the Space.  Martinez brings broad experience to the project while helping WRUS students create a 3D Printer for the new space.  A graduate of Texas Tech University with an MFA in printmaking from the University of Delaware, he has taught at the Delaware College of Art & Design and Washington College and is a frequent participant in MakerFaires in Brooklyn, N.Y. “Projects can be simple or much more complex; the focus is on encouraging students to identify, design and build,” advises Martinez.

Wye River Upper School was founded in 2002 and leased space on the campus of Chesapeake College until 2014 when it relocated to its permanent campus in the repurposed Centreville Armory.  An independent high school educating bright high school students with learning differences including dyslexia, ADHD, autism and anxiety, WRUS is accredited by the Association of Independent Maryland Schools (AIMS) and certified by the Maryland State Department of Education.

For more information about the School contact Katie Theeke at 410-758-2922 or katietheeke@wyeriverupperschool.org

Wye River Upper School Graduates Offer Strong Testimonies

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“Embrace Discomfort. When I find myself in a challenging situation I often remind myself that nothing ever gets accomplished when I am comfortable with where I am.  If you want to succeed at something you must be willing to fail at it too.”  Nevin Hamami, WRUS Class of 2018

This was the advice that Wye River Upper School (WRUS) senior Nevin Hamami shared with his eleven classmates, family and friends during an evening Commencement on May 22, 2018.  Hamami and two classmates, Olivia Bailey of Dorchester County and Alex Kliever of Kent County chose to speak during the Commencement, a tradition begun by the school in 2004.

Another tradition of the school is for graduates to leave their seats and move into the audience to present individual white roses to their immediate family, as a gesture of appreciation for their years of support. It is an exchange marked by hugs and tears of joy.

But this year, it was the senior speakers who stole the show. Boxes of tissue were being passed around and each of the three received a standing ovation.

Hamami resides in Arnold, Md.  He plans to return to the Eastern Shore in the fall to attend Chesapeake College.  An accomplished soccer athlete, Hamami will join his good friend and WRUS Alumnus Matt Donohue ‘17 to play for the Chesapeake soccer team.

Olivia Bailey moved her audience to tears with a heartfelt look back as a WRUS student.  Bailey pointed to her opportunity to be cast in several theatre productions and learn to play the violin.  “Wye River gave me a place where I could be myself. This school helped me find who I am, and gave me hope for my future.” Bailey will attend St. Mary’s College in the fall, where she will pursue her love of theatre.

Alex Kliever reflected upon his experience earning his Eagle Scout status with the Boy Scouts of America and advised his classmates “…not to give up and to see your commitments through to the very end. I understand now that it takes integrity… to follow through on what you set out to accomplish.” Kliever has a detailed plan to attend Chesapeake College for two years and transfer to a four – year degree program in pursuit of engineering coursework.

WRUS Chair of the Board, Alexa Seip joined the twelve graduates, Head of School Chrissy Aull and Commencement Speaker, Parker Seip on the school’s small stage. “I speak for the Board of Trustees that to hear heartfelt speeches such as I heard this evening captures the reason why we as volunteers work diligently to make WRUS an option for the community.  All kids should learn and grow the way these twelve have.”

Parker Seip of Charlotte, NC, addressed the Class of 2018 with an emphasis that their Commencement marked the beginning of their adult lives as “smart people in pursuit of their passions”.  His advice to follow their passion was highlighted through his own experience as a learning-differenced high school student at the Winston School in California, where he successfully combined academics with his love of aviation.  As a teenager, Seip earned a pilot’s license and was soon instructing others to fly.  Seip is employed as a First Officer on a commercial AirBus with a major airline.

Seniors earned most of the school’s major awards, all of which are presented at Commencement.  The Thomas West Digital Arts and Technology Award, named after Centreville native and author Thomas West, was presented by West to senior Will Hazzard.  Hazzard will attend Salisbury University in the spring of 2019.  The Stuart M. Bounds Dual Enrollment Award recipient is Grasonville resident Sarah Franklin, who will attend Chesapeake College in the fall. The WRUS Portfolio Award was presented to Hamami for his outstanding work in digitally capturing his best academic work through four years and presenting same.  Bailey and Franklin shared the Conner E. Bell Perseverance Award.  Named after WRUS Alumni Conner Bell, this award is a college scholarship, funded by his family, to recognize Conner’s perseverance and success despite diagnosed neurological conditions.

The 2018 graduates will pursue a wide range of interests and studies following high school.  One hundred percent of the class was accepted to college, ten will attend, one has begun a small business, and another is arranging an internship and course of study in equine science and care. “This class exemplifies the mission and philosophy of Wye River Upper School,” says Head of School Aull. “We work to ready each student for college and career, give them guidance and support in their post high school choices and are proud of each graduate as they follow their interests and passions.”

Wye River Upper School is an independent, college and career preparatory high school located in Centreville, MD.  The school’s mission is to educate bright high school students with learning differences, bound for college and career. For more information regarding the school, please contact Katie Theeke at 410-758-2922.

Wye River Upper School Plans for a MakerSpace

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A $100,000 grant from Baltimore’s Middendorf Foundation is making a new MakerSpace project possible for Wye River Upper School students at the Centreville school.  The Middendorf MakerSpace will be located at 318 S. Commerce Street in Centreville adjacent to the School’s main facility.  The new space will further WRUS’s mission to serve bright high school students with learning differences and will inspire creativity, hands-on instruction, and innovation which are hallmarks of the School’s program.

“I compare a MakerSpace to what we used to call shop years ago,” explains WRUS Executive Director, Chrissy Aull.  “It was largely woodworking for the boys and home economics for the girls.  But today, a MakerSpace is a gender-neutral space for both low-tech and high-tech production skills including 3D printing and cutting, garment design, woodworking, and culinary skills.  The emphasis is on developing students’ ability to identify a need or an opportunity, then design and develop a solution through the collaborative process.”

WRUS students put the finishing touches on their 3D printer which will be placed in the new MakerSpace.

The motivation for the MakerSpace project comes from the School’s commitment to continue offering hands-on opportunities for students. An example of a recent school project which gave students a real-life learning platform was the construction of a storage space on campus. Led by social studies instructor, Leon Schwartz, the project began in September with design, permitting, estimating and purchasing of lumber and materials. “The students collaborated to fulfill a school-wide need for more storage. In the process, they used Math skills and learned about town regulations. A MakerSpace will give us the ability to do more projects like this,” said Schwartz.

WRUS Chair, Alexa Seip gives all the credit for the Middendorf MakerSpace to the Middendorf Foundation, whose grant will fund the renovation of the new space.  “Without Middendorf’s generosity, we would not have been able to provide this exciting opportunity for our students.  Middendorf Foundation is enabling WRUS to continue to provide a responsive and relevant high school experience for very deserving kids,” said Seip.

Middendorf President, Craig Lewis shared his enthusiasm for the project. “We are proud to partner with the WRUS and congratulate them for the work they are doing for young men and women of the school.”

WRUS Art and Technology Instructor, James Martinez will lead the students and faculty through the initial design process to determine what tools and equipment will be installed.   One piece of equipment they know will occupy the new space is a 3D printer which WRUS students have built themselves. Martinez is particularly looking forward to the woodworking options.  “The students were heavily involved in the creation of our props and set for our school play, The Wizard of Oz,” said Martinez. “This year we had to contract out the wood cutting, next year we will be cutting the backdrops ourselves.”

Wye River Upper School is an independent high school for bright students with learning differences such as ADHD or dyslexia. For more information, please contact: Katie Theeke, Director of Admissions and Communications at 410-758-2922 or email katietheeke@wyeriverupperschool.org. www.wyeriverupperschool.org

…because not all great minds think alike.

Wye River Upper School Admissions Open House April 18

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Wye River Upper School is hosting an Admissions Open House on Wednesday, April 18 from 6 pm – 8 pm. The event is being held on the School’s campus at 316 S. Commerce Street, Centreville, MD. Students and staff will be presenting and sharing information on the Wye River Experience. Wye River serves students from several Maryland counties including Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Dorchester, Caroline, and Kent. Bus service is available to and from Stevensville, Easton, and Cambridge.

Wye River Upper School is a college preparatory high school offering an engaging, supportive and challenging curriculum for students with learning challenges like ADHD or dyslexia. For more information, please contact:

Katie Theeke, Director of Admissions and Communications

Tel: 410-758-2922, katietheeke@wyeriverupperschool.org

www.wyeriverupperschool.org

…because not all great minds think alike.

The Wizard of Oz Comes to Wye River Upper School

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Wye River Upper School presents the Wizard of Oz on March 15 and 16 in Centreville, MD. The students have been working throughout the winter months on all elements of the production from acting, to set design and painting, costuming, program design, lighting, sound, and choreography. WRUS Music Instructor and Theater Director, Marissa Muro, has been leading the students through the process along with the support of Kimberleigh Nichols, WRUS Spanish Instructor, and Assistant Theater Director. Visiting Artist, Will Hemsley has been guiding the set design crew along with the support of WRUS Art Instructor, James Martinez. Ms. Muro shares, “What a wonderful coordinated effort so far. We are all very excited to see the outcome in a couple weeks. This is a talented group of students and their hard work is paying off.”

The Wicked Witch of the West (sophomore, Rylan Cole) confronts Glinda the Good Witch (freshman Laura Wright).

The performances will be held Thursday, March 15 and Friday, March 16 at 7 pm at the Wye River Upper School campus, 316 S. Commerce Street, Centreville, MD 21617. Tickets can be purchased online at www.wyeriverupperschool.org or at the door. Ticket prices are $6 for children, $7 for seniors and $10 for adults. Parking is available both nights at the St. Paul’s Church (adjacent to the school), and Edward’s Pharmacy (102 Commerce St.). Overflow parking will also be available at the QAC Library (121 Commerce St.) for the March 16 performance.

Wye River Upper School is an independent high school for bright students with learning differences like ADHD or dyslexia. For more information, please contact 410.758.2922, www.wyeriverupperschool.org.

Wye River Upper School Admissions Open House January 28

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Wye River Upper School is hosting an Admissions Open House on Sunday, January 28 from 2 pm- 4 pm. The event is being held on the School’s campus at 316 S. Commerce Street, Centreville, MD. Students and staff will be presenting and sharing information on the Wye River Experience. Wye River serves students from several Maryland counties including Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Dorchester, Caroline and Kent. Bus service is available to and from Stevensville, Easton and Cambridge.

Wye River Upper School is an independent high school offering an engaging, supportive and challenging curriculum for students with learning challenges like ADHD or dyslexia. For more information, please contact: Katie Theeke, Director of Admissions and Communications, at 410-758-2922 or email katietheeke@wyeriverupperschool.org. www.wyeriverupperschool.org

WRUS Masquerade Gala Honors its First “Great Blue Heron” Award Recipients

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Wye River Upper School (WRUS) presented its newly minted Great Blue Heron Award and WRUS Alumni Achievement Award to two individuals at the School’s “Masquerade Gala: Unmasking Achievers with Learning Differences,” hosted at its Centreville location and attended by 150 guests.

The School, which is celebrating its 15th year of educating bright high school students with learning differences, hosted the gala to highlight the accomplishments of Alumna Chloe Tong, of Easton, Maryland and Parker Seip, of Raleigh, North Carolina. The Great Blue Heron Award is designed to honor individuals who have used their strengths and passions to achieve personal and professional goals, and provide leadership and service to their communities.

Students at Wye River present the Great Blue Heron awards to Chloe Tong and Parker Seip.

The School’s Great Hall was festively decorated in a black and gold masquerade theme with an impressive art-installation of a mask (created by WRUS students) suspended from the ceiling. The Gala brought together parents, WRUS alumni, Board members, Town Council, donors, and faculty and staff. Guests enjoyed live music, a silent auction and other fundraisers, cocktails and heavy hors-d’oeuvres donated and served by local restaurants and caterers, including Magnolia Caterers, The Narrows Restaurant, Smokehouse Grill, Doc’s Riverside Grille, Fisherman’s Inn & Crab Deck, Krave Courtyard, Austin and Guy Spurry, and the Chesapeake Culinary Center.

“Almost as soon as we had established the award concept and criteria we knew we had two very strong candidates, Chloe Tong and Parker Seip,” says Chrissy Aull, Executive Director of WRUS, who conducted the award presentations. “With support and opportunities to pursue their goals, both Chloe and Parker learned to use tools and strategies to get around their learning differences. They are both shining examples that students facing challenges do not need to miss out on pursuing their passions.”

Chloe graduated from WRUS in 2010 and went on to attend Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia, where she graduated in 2014 with a degree in dance. After a few months of traveling in Europe, she moved to Australia to work as a nanny while pursuing her love of dance and rowing. Now employed by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Chloe is an integral member of the CBMM staff. She has worked in a variety of roles and more recently has become certified as a backhoe operator, training others in this operation. Chloe has also worked to found the Eastern Shore Community Rowers, a nonprofit organization. She continues to dance and choreograph productions for area dance companies. Together with fellow dancers Tong has created another 501c3, Continuum, a dance company for which she serves as artistic director, choreographer, and dancer

Chloe has one more major undertaking in progress: She is taking lessons to become a licensed as a helicopter pilot. A love of flying is something Chloe shares with fellow Great Blue Heron Award recipient, Parker Seip.

Guests enjoy the Masquerade Gala in the School’s School Great Hall.

Parker, the son of Easton residents and longtime friends of WRUS – Tom and Alexa Seip, attended the Winston School in Del Mar, California, a school like WRUS which is designed to support the strengths and needs of students with learning differences. As his parents are quick to note, “All Parker ever wanted to do was fly airplanes.” Upon graduation from Winston, Parker earned a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Flight Operations from Daniel Webster College. He later became an instructor for the college, and he earned his Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) status from the Federal Aviation Administration. Now with years of commercial flight experience, Parker is employed by a major commercial airline as First Officer on the Airbus 320 and 321, a craft which accommodates 220 passengers. He and his wife Amy and their two young children reside in North Carolina.

The School’s financial aid program will benefit from the Gala proceeds which include generous sponsorships by Alan and Penny Griffith, CS/2 LLC, Don and Debbie Pusey, Miles & Stockbridge, Richard K. White, Jr., 1880 Bank, Harry and Virginia Duffey, Tom and Alexa Seip, Town of Centreville, and Shore United/Wye Financial & Trust.

Wye River Upper School enrolls bright high school students with learning challenges including ADHD, dyslexia, and anxiety. For more information, contact Katie Theeke at 410-758-2922, katietheeke@wyeriverupperschool.org.

Wye River Upper School Explores the Benefits of Mindfulness in Education

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The work and mission of Wye River Upper School will be strengthened as the school partners with the WRUS Parent’s Association to provide training for faculty and staff in the Neurobiology of Stress Management, Mindfulness and Meditation Tools for Resilience.

Monica Jordan of Annapolis, is leading the on-site training.  Jordan holds a Master of Education (M.Ed.), and a Master’s Certificate in Mind, Brain and Teaching (MCMBT) from Johns Hopkins University.  Jordan’s research focuses on the consequences of stress overload on the nervous system, mood, learning, behavior, executive function, and overall wellbeing. Her research also encompasses the effectiveness of Mindfulness as an intervention to ameliorate, and as a way to transform our reaction to stressors.

Jordan is providing every member of the staff and faculty with fifteen hours of intensive training as well as guidance and instruction for independent work to be done between training sessions.  After the course is complete, teachers and staff will share what they have learned with the Wye River students.

The WRUS faculty and staff gather in front of the school before one of their Mindfulness Trainings.

“Like most teenagers, our students must manage much more than we of the Baby Boomer or Millennial generation,” notes WRUS Head of School Chrissy Aull.  “Social media being the biggest add-on to an existing list of stressors that include academics, friends, college, and job readiness.  Often students and adults simply miss the joy of the moment or, worse, their stress can be an obstacle to learning.  We think Monica’s research-based approach is an ideal fit for our students and the adults who guide them. The entire staff will better support our students, athletes, and artists by showing them how mindfulness techniques and strategies can be used in their daily lives.”

Research supports the positive impact that Mindfulness has on academics and happiness.  In 2015, researchers at the University of British Columbia found that fourth and fifth grade students that participated in a 12-week mindfulness program had higher levels of attention, better retention, and 15 percent higher math grades than their peers. This was on top of psychological benefits such as lower levels of depression and increased feelings of optimism. (Terada, Y. 2017, Feb. Edutopia.org).

The WRUS faculty expresses enthusiasm at this opportunity.  Veteran teacher Kimberleigh Nichols adds, “Teaching is inherently a demanding job, and when you add stressors from home, it can feel overwhelming sometimes.  This training will give me the tools to manage stress more effectively and allow us to model those strategies for our students and families, paving the way for more creativity and learning.”

Rounding out the partnership amongst WRUS stakeholders, Parent’s Association Kathy Stisted offers, “The WRUS Parents Association is pleased to provide support for the Mindfulness program.  The generous donations of the WRUS parent community during the 2016-17 school year, allowed this seminar to be brought in-house.  We look forward to seeing the results of the training as the lessons learned are put into practice at our school.”

A free Mindfulness Workshop will be offered to the public on December 13, from 7:00pm-8:15 pm at the WRUS campus: 316 S. Commerce Street, Centreville, MD. Visit www.wyeriverupperschool.org for more details. WRUS enrolls bright high school students with learning differences, including ADHD, dyslexia, and anxiety.  For more information, contact Katie Theeke at 410-758-2922.

Psychologist Dr. Lauren Littlefield to Speak at Wye River Upper School

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Wye River Upper School is pleased to announce that Dr. Lauren Littlefield, psychologist and associate professor, will be presenting on – Building Better Habits: Organization, Planning and Goal Setting Strategies for Adolescents with Executive Dysfunction.

Dr. Littlefield will support parents and other guests in their understanding of executive functioning and methods for breaking old habits and forming new, more effective ones. The audience will be guided in an activity to help them conceptualize executive functions in everyday terms, which will ultimately help them to assess their own strengths and weaknesses. Participants will build an awareness for what individuals with executive skills challenges experience on a daily basis. These individuals include children and adolescents, individuals who have suffered a concussion, and those diagnosed with learning disabilities, ADHD, depression, and anxiety. Strategies geared toward supporting the different executive functioning challenges will be offered; for instance, learning is supported by planning ahead, managing time, organizing space, and forming routines. Goal setting and its various barriers will also be discussed.
Dr. Littlefield is a psychologist and an Associate Professor of Psychology at Washington College in Chestertown, MD. She teaches Neuropsychology, Psychological Assessment, and Diagnosis and Group Therapy to undergraduate students.

The event is open to the public and will be held Thursday, July 27 from 7pm – 8:15pm at Wye River Upper School located at 316 S. Commerce Street, Centreville, MD 21617. Register for your free tickets by visiting www.wyeriverupperschool.org/tools/speaker-series/.

For more information, contact Katie Theeke at (410) 758-2922 or katietheeke@wyeriverupperschool.org. Wye River Upper School is an independent, college preparatory school serving bright students with learning differences such as ADD/ADHD and dyslexia. We discover through innovation, develop with rigor and celebrate the strengths of our students, while preparing him or her for success in college, career and life.