I started the practice of addressing you as "Ellis Family” in my communications early in my time at Ellis. This felt so right, and important to me, because of the value I place on Ellis being a school community that has some of the key qualities of a strong family.
Strong families provide growing children and adolescents with a sense of being known and loved for who they are, with all their multiple layers of identity, personality, strengths, and quirks. Children and teens thrive when they have that sense of acceptance and support.
Strong schools need to provide that same sense for students—that school is a place where they are known, where adults and peers care about them and accept them as they are. This can be harder, of course, to achieve in a school than in a family. It takes us time to get to know students at school, students interact with so many other adults and peers in a school setting, and students are—and should be—challenged to stretch and grow in their classes, activities, teams, and social interactions.
But if we do it well—which we strive to at Ellis—every student, over time, comes to feel like they can be their full selves at school and develops relationships that are authentic and caring with both adults and peers. We purposefully have so many different kinds of students at Ellis—from different parts of Pittsburgh and beyond; from different kinds of families, backgrounds, and lived experiences; with different interests and strengths and personalities and areas of growth. That diversity makes for a wonderfully rich learning community that benefits all our students.
This goal of wanting every student to be able to bring their full selves to school each day takes work on everyone’s part (just as it does in strong families), and it’s not always smooth or easy. But it’s a goal we take seriously and work on every day at Ellis, and one I hope we achieve with each of our students.