At all-girls schools, girls work collaboratively, take risks together, and grow into bold, confident young women who are ready to change the world. They don’t just make friendships that last through high school, they make friendships that last forever. So why are there so many preconceived notions about what it’s like to go to a girls’ school? Ask any student or graduate from an all-girls school their take on their girls’ school experience? They’ll tell you differently.
In order to dispel these myths about girls’ schools, we’ve flipped the four most common ones on their head.
by Lauren Laschon, Assistant Head of School and Upper School Head
When I am asked about my profession and tell people that I am the Head of an Upper School (or principal for those not familiar with independent schools), I typically hear one of two responses: people either tell me that they are sorry for me or that they don’t know how I do it. At this point in the conversation, I have the opportunity to explain that my role as Head of the Upper School at Ellis is not typical. Unlike other high school principals, my job does not revolve primarily around discipline and student management. Instead, I have the privilege of spending my time supporting student learning, listening to ideas borne out of ingenuity and initiative, and helping girls find their purpose. It is because I am at Ellis, in a strong community of Upper School women, that my job is not typical.
A few weeks ago, I joined a group for a run. Due to the shorter distance planned for that day, a few people brought their older elementary or middle school children with them. Prior to running, we always have a warm-up, and this day a father and his young son were in front of me. When the instruction was given to skip, the father turned to his reluctant son and encouraged “C’mon, skip like a six-year-old girl and enjoy yourself!” I was surprised by the comment, and it has stuck with me through the opening of school. To be fair, I wasn’t able to ask this parent as to whether he meant a negative comparison such as “running or throwing like a girl,” or if he was encouraging the child to be himself, to let go, and get caught up in the moment without worrying about what others think.
If you have ever asked a five-year-old girl what she wants to be when she grows up, you know that her answer can range from a doctor to a unicorn. And if on Monday, she tells you that she wants to be a zookeeper, by Friday she is certain that she will be a bus driver in outer space. During this stage of life, when a young girl holds such optimistic views of herself and her abilities, the possibilities for who she will be and what she can do are bound only by the limits of her imagination. She is blissfully unaware of the ways gender stereotypes have restricted opportunities for girls and women and the voices she hears the loudest are those of her parents who encourage her to believe in her own worth.
by Betsy Gianakas and Caroline Lynett, Grade 1 Teachers
Past, present, and future collide in the first grade during our exploration of The Ellis School community. Before we begin to discover the story of Ellis’ past, we spend the first month of the school year coming together in supportive play and work to build connections between our team of learners. The positive energy is contagious as students transform a once empty classroom into their home for the year. A stained glass mural appears on a window as girls work together to create something beautiful for a corner of the room meant for quiet and reflection. A class agreement signed by all of the students appears on the wall. It proudly announces the girls’ intention to learn and have fun together this year. Mathematics manipulatives appear on the desks and voices can be heard exchanging strategies about multiple ways to make the sum of ten. First drafts of small moment stories appear that will later become a polished piece of writing worthy of Writer’s Museum.
I came to Ellis just over a year ago, excited about the many strengths of the program, the diverse and multi-talented students, faculty, and staff, and the welcoming and warm nature of the School community. I was also excited about the School’s commitment to remaining all-girls, but I was, admittedly, new to all-girls education and curious to experience it for myself. After a year of listening, watching, and learning—of hearing why it matters to our students, faculty, parents, and alumnae and after seeing for myself the spectacular ways in which our girls are growing and thriving—I have become a complete convert to our all-girls mission.
by Patrick Fägersten and Jessica Nolan, Grade 4 Teachers
Did you know that famed children’s author Roald Dahl invented over 250 words? This ‘splendiferous’ inventor of snozzcumbers and frobscottle has inspired young readers for nearly 60 years. Fantasy literature encourages creativity and curiosity as readers form mental pictures of the fantastical worlds, zany characters, and action-packed adventures authors like Dahl use to make this genre of literature distinctive.
by Diane Reckless, Science Department Chair and Middle School Science Teacher
Middle school is a time of tremendous growth and change for students. They arrive at science class each day eager to share their thoughts, ideas, and questions—increasingly complex questions—about their lives, their communities, and their world. In Middle School science, we celebrate students’ deep curiosity and help them build independence as learners. The starting place is their wonderings, the questions that bubble up as new ideas are encountered.
The start of the school year has always seemed the true new year for me, and I enjoyed spending time last week visiting classes to observe students and faculty prepare for the year ahead. Students in all grades received a syllabus in each class, reviewed procedures for turning in work, and recorded homework in brand new Squibbs or on Chromebooks.
Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year at The Ellis School. It is such a delight to see our beautiful campus brimming with life now that all our students have returned. Families tell us that one of the main reasons they have chosen Ellis is because they are looking for a school where their children will grow truly vibrant intellects. This is one of my very favorite aspects of our school community.