Therefore, character education—the process through which children acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to recognize and manage their emotions, demonstrate caring, establish positive relationships, make decisions, and handle challenging situations constructively—is used to develop gratitude, empathy, and resilience in students beginning at a young age.
At Ellis, embracing not just the student—but the whole girl—is integral to our approach, and faculty are committed to each girl’s overall academic, social, and emotional growth. Subsequently, our interdisciplinary approach to learning begins with our youngest students.
For example, in grade 2, all students work in cooperative learning groups as city planners on a Metropolitan Community project. Girls design and construct all aspects of a fictitious city. As neighborhoods and services spring up, students position homes and make decisions about services in a Central Business District, weighing issues such as aesthetics, usage, space, noise, and environmental considerations. As girls design and build, they discover the power of teamwork and individual contributions.
Innovative and intentional teaching methods and curriculum, like the Metropolitan Community project, take subject matter—such as mathematics, science, art, and history—off the page and into the real world to prepare girls to think in complex ways. Because of the focused makeup in each classroom—a group of students that only includes girls—our expert educators are able to celebrate the whole girl each and every day. There is no such thing as “boy subjects” and “girl subjects.” At Ellis, students learn without fear of failure or judgement. There are no stereotypes about what girls should do, but there are unlimited expectations about what girls can do.
Whether it’s the Metropolitan Community project, introducing history to budding learners with an archaeological dig, or teaching addition and subtraction through a fundraiser in partnership with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank––the Lower School integrates life lessons into every aspect of a student’s day. This developmentally tailored, interdisciplinary approach enhances comprehension of core concepts through fun, hands-on experiences that have real relevance to girls’ lives. An Ellis girl is told she can do anything she sets out to accomplish, and the Lower School program builds the foundation for this success.