Hull keeps students on track

Staff photo by E.J. HarrisChris Hull is a retired special education instructor that now volunteers with the ASPIRE program at Hermiston High School.

As high schoolers try to figure out what they want to do after graduation, Chris Hull helps them by asking the right questions.

The retired Hermiston and Stanfield teacher is an ASPIRE mentor, volunteering weekly at Hermiston High School.

Each week she meets with four to five students, seeing a total of about 20 a month. She talks to students about their goals after high school, and helps them understand how to get there.

“The ASPIRE mentoring program is designed to help kids figure out what they want to be,” Hull said.

Though she’s long worked with kids, both as a special education teacher and as a court-appointed special advocate, this is Hull’s first year as an ASPIRE mentor.

The program is optional, and students can join at any grade level. Hull said she tends to see more junior and senior students.

“I get a variety,” Hull said. “There are kids that don’t have a clue, and aren’t really motivated to be thinking about it. One girl told me she didn’t really have a passion — she just wanted to get out of high school, get a job and have a house.”

In those situations, Hull said she will encourage students to try and come up with some ideas for their next meeting.

“My assignment to her was, ‘I want you to think about something you really like,’” she said.

Hull will also do some of her own research to help students. One boy told her he wanted to be a physician’s assistant, and for their next meeting, Hull came with some information about the education requirements for that job.

Hull also helps students figure out how they’ll pay for their plans.

“I always ask them, ‘Are you independently wealthy? Do you have money buried away?’ They always look at me and giggle,” Hull said. “We talk about scholarships, letters of recommendation, how it’s important to get those done early.”

Though she retired in 2003, Hull has continued to regularly attend school events, and almost every school board meeting.

“I don’t know if it’s from different generations,” she said. “People who stay with jobs for a long time. I’ve worked in two places, and they were both in Umatilla County. You get a sense of loyalty to the place you worked, and I think that comes from building close relationships with the people you work with.”

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