I’ve spent a lot of time this year listening—to students, faculty and staff, parents, alumnae—as a way of gaining a clear understanding of what we value as a community, what we are doing well, and opportunities for becoming an even more remarkable school. Many thanks to those of you who attended one of the community conversations we hosted last fall, or who completed the brief survey of parents we distributed early in the year. Today, I want to share some of the highlights of that feedback and some of the steps we are taking at The Ellis School in response.
This is a particularly busy and exciting time in the flow of the school year, as students and faculty begin to wrap up projects and prepare for final assessments, as spring athletic teams hurtle through their seasons, as we build toward the culmination of our school-wide community service project celebration on May 25, and as the Ellis Parent Association volunteers plan their remaining activities for the year. It is a time of year when I feel deeply grateful for all the adults at school and at home who both challenge and nurture our girls, and who work so hard to make Ellis such a special community.
For parents and educators, the new growth of spring often triggers us noticing how much the children in our lives have blossomed, sometimes without us even realizing it. Ellis girls have grown and flourished in so many ways this year. I hope you’ll enjoy the stories in this newsletter that celebrate some of that growth.
When I was getting to know Ellis as a candidate for the Head of School position, one of the aspects of the school that was tremendously compelling—and personally important to me—was the School's commitment to diversity. Our website states this:
As I mentioned in my last GreenSheet, I am spending a great deal of time this year listening and learning about our school community in hopes of understanding what students, parents, faculty, staff, alumnae and supporters care about, wish we would do differently, and never want to change. When I asked parents to describe why they chose Ellis for their daughters, almost every parent talked about the strength of our academic program, and the benefits of an all-girls education. It can be challenging in a pre-kindergarten through grade 12 community for parents to have a sense of what is happening in different parts of the school, and I want to be sure you get a chance to see the richness in the Ellis academic experience that I am lucky enough to witness every day.
As a teacher, I have always loved witnessing students’ growth this time of year. I’ve seen this during my classroom visits this month—whether it be watching girls perform sophisticated science experiments, create original vinyl designs in our makerspace: The Foundry, or argue about translations in Latin class—the change is noticeable and impressive.
Surrounded by six different neighborhoods, The Ellis School is in the heart of Pittsburgh’s East End. With museums, parks, restaurants, and coffee shops a short walk away from campus, there are plenty of family-friendly activities, places, and events to discover every day of the week—and they’re all just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Ellis campus. As Mister Roger’s always said, “so let’s make the most of this beautiful day!”
I feel quite lucky to have been raised by parents who wanted me and my siblings to learn to feel and express gratitude and to find joy in giving back to others. As an educator, I believe children are happier when they can look beyond their own needs, when they develop empathy for others, and when they find ways to share their own good fortune. This time of year provides many opportunities for us, as parents and teachers, to talk about gratitude with our children, and to find ways for our children to be of service to others.
Winning a championship is quite a feat in itself, but winning four consecutive championships in a row is, for most teams, unfathomable. At Ellis, it is a reality for five members of the Class of 2018; Emma Bisello, Corinne Hartman, Lysa Meyer, Angie Scheuermann, and Olivia Simon.