Empowering Students Through Independence and Autonomy

One of my favorite things about the latter half of December and the early part of January is the homecoming of our alumnae. Almost every day, we have groups of young alums who return to campus to visit with their former teachers, younger students, and each other. Throughout these visits, the one resounding theme is how well-prepared they are for their life beyond Ellis.
There are myriad ways in which we prepare students for the world after they graduate. Through their classes, performances, and athletic events, they learn how to engage in the world outside of our campus. One of the more subtle ways in which we prepare students is through the increasing freedom they earn, beginning in their sophomore year, when they can attain independent work periods in place of study halls, and culminating in senior privileges. This autonomy is important as they gain even more freedom in a university setting. By making choices (do I go to get coffee or finish an assignment?), students learn to prioritize their time and how to take well-deserved breaks.  

In addition to fostering their independence, we encourage students to engage with faculty, not just in the classroom but in their clubs, service projects, field trips, and during advisory time. Our students become comfortable seeking help and advice in a supportive setting which empowers them to do the same when they are in an unfamiliar place after graduation. At Ellis, they have many opportunities to affect change when they see a need. They are then well-poised to speak to people in positions of power and to be responsible citizens in their new communities. Just as they leave the Upper School community better than they found it, we are confident that they do the same in the world after Ellis.