A History of Preparing Girls

In 1916, Sara Frazer Ellis established  “a sound and thorough" school to prepare girls for “the rigorous admission requirements of the Eastern women's colleges.”

Students took courses in chemistry, physics, history, Latin, French, English, mathematics, and art history. A native to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Miss Ellis was an alumna of  Bryn Mawr College, where she learned to insist on sound academic objectives.
When Dilworth Hall, a Pittsburgh college preparatory school for women closed, Miss Ellis decided to start a proprietary school of her own by taking over a small institution called Miss Shaw’s School.

With three teachers and 41 students in kindergarten to grade 12, the “Miss Ellis’ School” opened in rented quarters on 4860 Ellsworth Avenue. Miss Ellis and Miss Marie Craighead served as Headmistress and Assistant Headmistress for 25 years.

Esse Quam Videri

To be, rather than to seem.

Ellis’ motto fully embodies the philosophy of our engaging and deliberate curriculum. Ellis girls don’t just absorb the material they learn in school, they synthesize, competently apply it to sophisticated issues, and exhibit it throughout their entire lives.
At Ellis, girls are encouraged to be their authentic selves and are empowered to be unique, fearless, and unapologetic as they navigate a coed world. Ellis girls embody the school motto, “Esse Quam Videri” or “To be, rather than to seem.”

Previous Heads of School