When she moved across the country to start her position as Ellis’ new Middle School Division Head, Jenn Moynihan’s arrival didn’t feel quite that distant. A native of Lansdale, Pennsylvania, Ms. Moynihan’s return to the Keystone State came after living in Los Angeles, California, and working at The Archer School for Girls for the past nine years. At Archer, she served as an Upper School English Teacher and then as Dean of Students, witnessing for herself the power of an all-girls education firsthand.
Head of Middle School
BA Theatre and English, Northwestern University; MA in Secondary Education, Lehigh University
How did you get into education? I started as an English teacher in the Upper School at Archer before I became Dean of Students. I loved it—I was an English major in college and am really interested in writing, theater, and film as well. Being an English teacher let me wrap up all of my passions into one role and then share it with my students.
What do you think is so special about the middle school years? The possibility of Middle School stands out the most. At this age, students are so engaged, curious, and excited. They explore different avenues and discover what they love while also having the space and support to grow.
What do you think are the advantages to an all-girls environment? Throughout my entire educational career I’ve worked in girls’ schools. I think there’s so much power in being surrounded by women who are doing amazing things that aren’t questioned or overshadowed. At girls' schools, it’s normal for girls to be leaders, captains, and changemakers. I think the “see it to be it” mentality is so important.
How did you know Ellis was a good fit for you? On the day I arrived at Ellis for an on-campus interview, it was snowing—in April! I had flown in from Los Angeles, and when I walked into the courtyard, girls were playing and frolicking in the snow. I knew then it was a magical place. Then I had the opportunity to meet with the Middle School student council representatives and it felt like I had known them forever. They asked really smart questions and were genuinely interested in my answers. Ellis captured my heart right away!
How would you describe yourself in three words? Passionate, curious, adventurous.
What do you do for fun? I hang out with my family! I have an almost 5-year-old daughter, Sutton, and twin two-year-old boys, Liam and Bennett. I’m also a voracious reader and like to build and refinish furniture.
What’s the last book you read? I just finished two books, Anxious People by Fredrik Backman and Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms by Joe Feldman.
At Ellis, we take snack very seriously. What’s your favorite snack? I like the fruit, nut, and cheese packs. They make for easy snacking!
What are you most looking forward to in your new role? I’m really looking forward to getting to know the students. I can’t wait to see them in action and be able to pop into their classrooms and chat with them in the hallways.
What are you looking forward to in Pittsburgh? I’m a big fan of eating out, so I’m looking forward to trying some new delicious restaurants. I’m also excited about experiencing the arts in the city.