Denise LaRosa, Class of 2030 Parent

Determined to give her daughter access to the best education in Pittsburgh, Denise LaRosa knew that The Ellis School was the only place for her daughter, Gianna, Class of 2030. A pre-kindergarten teacher at Ellis as well as a parent, Denise saw firsthand how transformative all-girls education could be for girls and chose to enroll her daughter in kindergarten so she could get the full Ellis experience beginning in Lower School. Now in first grade, Gianna is thriving in her class—proving to Denise and her husband, Jason, every day that they made the right decision.  
Daughter:Gianna, Class of 2030
Years at Ellis:3
Occupations:Denise, Pre-kindergarten Teacher | Jason, Broadcast Specialist/News Director

Why did you feel it was important to enroll your daughter at Ellis in the Lower School?
There is so much Ellis has to offer right away, and we want Gianna to get as much out of the Ellis experience as she can possibly can. We also want her to build strong relationships with her classmates because you can’t put a price tag on Ellis friendships. It will be really special for her to go through Ellis from kindergarten to grade 12 as a lifer.

What do you think will be different for your daughter as she grows up because she is attending an all-girls school?
We think she will be able to stand in her truth and be sure of who she is and where she wants to go. When alumnae come back to campus, it’s really amazing to see how they’re thriving in every way imaginable. When you go to Ellis, there’s a sisterhood that’s always there to support you, and that’s invaluable. Combined with the stellar education, we know our daughter will leave Ellis prepared and equipped for whatever comes next.

Why do you send your daughter to Ellis?
We send Gianna to Ellis because we know without a shadow of a doubt that she's receiving the best education she could possibly receive. We know that every day she's being celebrated for who she is, and we know that Ellis will prepare her for the world. When she graduates, she will be ready to take the world by storm and know that the sky’s the limit. What more can you ask for from your child’s school?

How do you feel Ellis creates a sense of community for your daughter and your family as a whole?
The families here are so wonderful. With the Ellis Parent Association, we can be involved as parents. There's always an available volunteer opportunity, and we appreciate that the functions are all about the community—it’s not just School events, but family events.

What do you think are the stereotypes that your daughter encounters or avoids by attending Ellis?
We hope she’ll avoid the need to fit in at school. We want her to be secure in who she is and know that it’s okay to see and feel things differently than everyone else. At Ellis, we know she’ll be embraced and celebrated for who she is. For instance, sometimes she would be insecure about how her hair looked in comparison to everyone else, but now that she’s at Ellis and sees all different types of girls and hair, she feels good about who she is. Those little things add up.

What’s the biggest difference or change you’ve seen in your daughter since she started at Ellis?
She has been able to self-regulate her own emotions better. Before, if a teacher would talk to her about something, she might cry and fall apart, but now she’s able to find solutions and strategies to control herself. As a parent, that’s invaluable. At home, we see her thinking outside of the box and we always say, “You’re such an Ellis girl!”

What doors does Ellis open for your daughter?
Ellis opens her eyes to the world. All of the partnerships the School has with local institutions, nonprofits, and organizations give her an educational experience beyond the classroom. In art class, she’s learning about Picasso; in music class, she’s learning about Mozart. It’s not just reading and writing; she’s learning how to be a good person. At Ellis, she’s not just a body in the classroom; she’s a person who is loved and known.