Sarah Bumsted, Class of 2027 and 2029 Parent

When Sarah ALTMAN Bumsted ’95 moved back to Pittsburgh, there was one decision that she didn’t give a second thought to—sending her two daughters, Kit, Class of 2029, and Annie, Class of 2027, to Ellis. An alumna of the School herself, Sarah knew firsthand the value of an Ellis education and wanted her daughters to have the same experiences and opportunities she had as an Ellis student. From the invaluable role modeling girls witness in older students to the incomparable teachers who truly know, support, and care for them, Sarah chose Ellis for her daughters because she believes wholeheartedly that Ellis is the best educational experience for any child in Pittsburgh.
 
Daughters:Annie, Class of 2027 | Kit, Class of 2029
Years at Ellis:3
Occupation:Curriculum Coordinator at Beginnings Preschool

What did the decision-making process look like for your family? What stood out about Ellis?
It was a no-brainer. When I returned to Pittsburgh, choosing Ellis was the easiest decision and that’s not just because I have two girls. Gender aside, this is the best learning experience in Pittsburgh. I didn’t even consider anywhere else. Growing up in the Ellis community, I was surrounded by strong women everyday and from them I became a confident woman myself.
I wanted my daughters to be in an environment where girls are practicing how to support each other, pick each other up, and take risks. For an adolescent girl, those experiences are so valuable.

Why do you stay at Ellis?
Because I want my girls to have this unparalleled experience for as long as possible. I want them to evolve here. As they mature, I want them to have the nurturing support of this community. The way girls are nurtured and supported at Ellis allows them to take academic risks that they might not take somewhere else. As an educator, I know that’s where the true learning takes place—when you put yourself out there, ask a question, make a hypothesis, take a chance even if you’re right or wrong. That is learning. If you don’t have the security to do that, if you stick around Ellis, you’ll get it.
 
What does your daughter love about Ellis? What do you love about Ellis?
They love their friends and their teachers. They feel competent here. Every child needs a time in their day when they’re a learner and an expert, that’s how they build confidence. I think it’s important that every child has that balance of “I got this” and “I want to learn more,” so they can practice varying levels of competency each day. I love that they get to practice that competency, and learn specific skills like negotiation. I love how they are so known here and treated as individuals, and not just compared to each other—they love that too. They’re both vivacious members of their classes but in totally different ways. Their teachers push them when they need to be pushed, and are gentle with them when they need to be gentle. The individualization and understanding of kids as unique learners is very well developed here.

Why has your family prioritized and invested in an all-girls school?
It makes sense to me to have the girls commit to a school, participate in their learning, and recognize all the ways there are to be a girl. Because of the all-girls environment, all the ways of being a girl and all of the ways girls learn are celebrated. Here girls learn from each other and have role models in the older students at every age and phase. My daughters are inspired by the older students and what they do. Everything that impresses them is done by a girl. The artwork you see in the hallways or the sports stats you read, all done by a girl.
 
What do you hope your daughters will get out of an Ellis education?
I want them to have self-awareness and an awareness of the experiences of others. I want their curiosities and spirits to be embraced and challenged at the same time.
 
What doors does Ellis open for your daughter?
I’m hopeful that it won’t ever occur to them that they shouldn’t take a chance. I think an Ellis education does teach them that. Upon my graduation from Ellis, it never occurred to me that there was something I couldn’t tackle.

What in particular do you think she learns because she goes to an all-girls school?
The role-modeling she sees at Ellis is definitely unique. She learns there are all kinds of possibilities available to her and that she can do it too.
 
What do you want for your daughter as she grows up? What kind of opportunities do you hope she has?
That combination of self-awareness and awareness of others. I hope she has anything that she works hard for and wants. I want her to have the confidence to try new things and the resilience to switch gears if they don’t work out.
 
How would you describe an “Ellis girl”?
There are so many ways to be an Ellis girl and that’s the beauty of it. There’s no one way to be an Ellis girl. They’re not cranking out a certain type of girl here. I would say the confidence that girls gain here transforms them into changemakers. I hope the rich experiences that are available here to my daughters allow them to view the world with openness.
 
What is the biggest difference or change you have seen in your daughter since she started at Ellis?
I would say Annie is more balanced and less rigid. She has more flexible thinking capabilities. Kit is more confident, less clingy, and less fixated on herself.
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