Why has your family prioritized and invested in an all-girls school?
Marla: It was a very personal decision for me. I have a simple life philosophy, “no guts, no glory.” I believe that high-level achievement requires an underlying passion and a strong work ethic. Most importantly, though, I think that it requires guts—guts to commit to the hard work, sacrifice, and disappointments. Guts to truly put yourself on the line and risk failure. Every second guess that I’ve had in life is not because I lacked talent, passion, or the work ethic, it was because I lacked the courage and confidence to take the necessary risk of complete failure. I am accomplished academically and professionally, but I know that I’ve always picked the safe path—never really put it all on the line. I chose an all-girls school because I want more for my daughter. I want her to know “glory.”
At Ellis, I see that competition revolves around competencies that actually matter in life (academics, extracurricular activities, community involvement); competencies that can be controlled and improved through hard work. I believe that the reward of the process is earned confidence. I believe that this is very different than competing on subjective values like “best smile, nicest eyes…best hair”, qualities that are beyond any girl’s control and that often lead to self-doubt.
I think that taking risks in life requires that one not fear judgement. I firmly believe that an all-girls environment provides an atmosphere of safety and support that is free from much of the peer pressure and self-consciousness that arises in a coed situation. I want our daughter to be passionate, hardworking, and to feel safe and confident enough to risk failure.
Dave: That's all important, but the thing that sold me on Ellis was the calm learning environment that I thought would serve our daughter well.
What does your daughter love about Ellis? What do you love about Ellis?
She loves the community, both the kids and teachers. They’re like a second family to her. We, too, love the Ellis community. We also value the dedication of the teachers and the richness of the curriculum.
What do you value in an education for your daughter?
We want her in a class of kids from families that truly value education, and we want her in a calm but stimulating learning environment. We want a challenging curriculum where hard work is rewarded.
What is your favorite Ellis memory as a parent/guardian?
When I pick her up from school at lunch, I wait on a hallway bench for her to return from recess. Almost always, she comes through the hallway door with an exuberant smile on her face. It is a privilege as a parent to glimpse that type of everyday joy in your daughter. When I see it, I know that Ellis is a very special place and the right school for us.
Do you have any anecdotes or stories that stand out about your or your daughter’s time at Ellis?
It’s true that there are occasionally “break-through” or pivotal moments that define us or our experience. However, we believe that achievement (good or bad) is made up of many years of everyday living. What we are fortunate to see at Ellis a consistency in the everyday, where our daughter is encouraged and challenged in a stimulating, caring, and fun environment. She has learned her alphabet, numbers, elementary math, phonics, and even some art history while in the Ellis pre-kindergarten program. When we ask her if she is ready for kindergarten, she says, “yes—I am going to do well.” If she does a numbers problem, we tell her, “you are pretty smart at numbers.” She says, “thanks—I know that I am smart. I like numbers.” This self-belief has carried over to all aspects of her life: learning to ice skate, skiing, gymnastics, and even, after years of struggle, swimming.
The reality is that you can believe in your child’s potential as much as you want, but what truly matters most is your child’s belief in herself. It makes us proud as parents to see our daughter’s confidence grow. We attribute this to a wonderful combination of our daughter’s own character, a nurturing home life, and The Ellis School.