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About us


K.R.U.S.H. (Kids Rising Up through Support and Healing) was created for students who are dealing with parents/guardians/family members that are or have been incarcerated. We are now training in all states! 

K.R.U.S.H. Creators

Kristi Whittaker and Jalina Wheeler

Kristi whittaker


Kristi has worked in the Russell Independent School System in Russell, Kentucky for ten years as a special education instructional aide. In the summer of 2018 she graduated from Ashland Community and Technical College with an Associate of Arts Degree. 

Over the years in the school system, she has worked with students who are dealing with loved ones being incarcerated. These students experienced negative effects from the situations they dealt with. Kristi helped develop the content guide and program with Jalina. 

Student behavior, attendance, and performance all suffered in some fashion as a result of having a loved one incarcerated. Kristi has also experienced incarceration in her own family, which also prompted her to create this program.

Jalina wheeler


Jalina has worked as a teacher since 2008. She has been stationed at Russell Independent Schools for 10 years. Mrs. Wheeler has a degree in Learning and Behavior Disorders (K-12) from the University of Kentucky. She taught in a resource setting for 8 years as a special education teacher. She also holds a master’s degree in School Counseling from the University of Cumberlands along with an Education Specialist degree in School Counseling. Jalina is currently a school counselor at Russell McDowell Intermediate School.

Jalina has a Rank 1 in Special Education Director from Morehead University. Kristi approached Jalina to join in on the program after working together in a resource setting for 8 years. Mrs. Wheeler also has an immediate family member that has been incarcerated. Jalina felt that this program was needed and jumped on Kristi’s offer to follow this journey. Jalina helped develop the content guide and training program with Kristi.  

Since starting the group, it has grown dramatically in our area. All Russell Independent Schools currently have KRUSH programs. It is now in schools across the state of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. 

Students that participate in the KRUSH group show significant growth in attendance, behavior, academics, and in friendships. Many of our students began expressing their emotions better and began healing with family members.

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