"We are so happy to welcome these new faculty members to Ellis,” says Lauren Laschon, Assistant Head of School and Director of Teaching and Learning. "They each bring a wealth of knowledge and experience, and will bring so much to their classrooms. We’re excited that they are part of the Ellis community and look forward to learning from them and with them throughout the year.”
Bonnie Book, Upper School Chemistry Teacher: Ms. Book holds a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh and a M.Ed. from Duquesne University. She began her teaching career in Maryland before pursuing opportunities in international education. After teaching chemistry and biology in five different countries, she is returning to the Pittsburgh area and is honored to be joining the faculty at Ellis. Outside of the classroom she enjoys playing tennis, skiing, reading, and exploring the city with her dog.
Leo Chen, AP Computer Science Teacher and FIRST LEGO League Coach: Chen is an engineer and educator hailing from Texas. They earned their B.S. in Engineering from Olin College, and they spent the last four years in a Ph.D. program at Carnegie Mellon University, where they earned their M.S. in Software Engineering. In their free time, Chen likes music (singing and violin), sudoku, and crochet. They are excited to be here at Ellis and can't wait to share the world of computing with their students!
Christine Fashion, Lower School Visual Arts Teacher: Ms. Fashion earned her M.F.A. from The Ohio State University and B.F.A. from Pennsylvania State University, both with a focus in Ceramics. Prior to Ellis, Ms. Fashion attended multiple artists in residency programs in the United States and worked in both Europe and Asia writing about contemporary exhibition design. A Pittsburgh native, Ms. Fashion is returning to her hometown after ten years with her partner Jacob and two dogs, Keda and Iiah. She is thrilled to join the community at Ellis and to be a part of the Art Department’s creative space.
Ashlee Geesaman, Interim Upper School English Teacher: Ms. Geesaman holds a M.Ed. in Secondary Education from Point Park University and a B.S. in Business Administration and Marketing from Elizabethtown College. Before joining Ellis, Ms. Geesaman designed and wrote curriculum for an online charter school, and prior to that she taught high school English. Outside of the classroom, Ms. Geesaman enjoys journaling, reading, horror movies, and spending time with her spouse, their two kids, Iris and Willow (Ellis Class of 2030), and their house full of animals. She is excited to become an active member of the Ellis community, and she is passionate about providing every student with a high-quality education.
Jennifer Hensler, Middle School/Upper School World Language: Ms. Hensler is a Pittsburgh native who recently moved back after teaching Middle School Spanish in Newport News, VA for thirteen years. Prior to her time in Virginia, she graduated summa cum laude from Slippery Rock University with a B.A. in Secondary Education and Spanish. A semester in Spain and summer in France sparked a love of travel and she has since spent time in sixteen different countries. She loves to enjoy the outdoors by hiking, camping, and kayaking. Ms. Hensler is excited to be home and thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of the Ellis community.
Kontara Morphis, Middle School Dance Teacher: Ms. Morphis is a graduate of LaRoche University with a bachelor’s degree in dance. She is a resilient visionary who has an undying passion for the arts. With more than 15 years of experience as a dancer, arts educator, and choreographer, she is also the Artistic Director of K-Theatre Dance Complex, a dance company that provides quality dance instruction in several major areas of dance. Ms. Morphis’ students have been a part of a myriad of dance performances, conferences, collaborations, and artistic showcases. In 2018 Ms. Morphis was awarded with a Transformative Teaching Artist Award, and in 2021 she was a BIPOC artist micro-grant recipient. More recently, Ms. Morphis was announced as a 2024 CSA Resident Artist with the New Hazlett Theater. Ms. Morphis is excited to be joining the Ellis community as the Middle School Dance Teacher.
Sarah Rouhier, Fourth Grade Teacher: Ms. Rouhier is currently earning her M.F.A. in Children’s Literature from Hollins University and holds bachelor’s degrees in both elementary education and English from Wheeling Jesuit University. She is a National Board certified teacher with more than a decade of teaching experience. Ms. Rouhier moved to Pittsburgh from Wheeling, WV in 2021 and has taught most recently for Mt. Lebanon public schools. She is excited to bring her passions for social-emotional and problem-based learning to Ellis. In her spare time, she enjoys all things creative, including writing, illustration, and interior design. Her favorite place to visit in the city is Phipps Conservatory, where she and her husband find inspiration for their own gardening.
Leah Thompson, Pre-kindergarten Classroom Aide: Ms. Thompson joins Ellis' pre-kindergarten team after working in the on-site child care center, Fifth Avenue Family Child Care Center, for 14 years. She grew up in Georgia and graduated from Agnes Scott College with a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology. After college, she taught English and HIV/AIDS prevention as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon. Before moving to Pittsburgh, Ms. Thompson lived in Washington, D.C. where she was a program manager for the International Rescue Committee's refugee resettlement program. Since moving to Pittsburgh, she has learned that she loves working with our youngest learners and she is very happy to continue to be a part of the Ellis community in her new role. In her free time, Ms. Thompson enjoys reading, traveling, trying new foods, and spending time outside.