Ann CANCILLA Gaudino, Ed.D. ’85, Professor

An Ellis lifer, Ann CANCILLA Gaudino, Ed.D. ’85 is the true definition of a lifelong learner. After graduation, Ann received her doctorate degree in Education Administration and Policy Studies from the University of Pittsburgh, a Specialist degree in Education Administration from Wayne State University, and Master and Bachelor degrees in Music from the University of Michigan. Currently an associate professor at Millersville University, Ann teaches graduate and doctoral courses in education and education leadership to the next generation of teachers and administrators. When she’s not in the classroom, Ann is the founder and editor of the Excellence in Education Journal, an online journal that promotes and circulates scholarly educational writings in a public forum with no fee. Dedicated to supporting teachers and students across the world, Ann’s commitment to transforming lives through education is inspiring, and for her—it all began at Ellis.
Years at Ellis:Kindergarten to Grade 12
Location:Hidden Valley, PA
Occupation:Professor & Editor-in-Chief
Education:B.M. and M.M. in Music, University of Michigan; Ed.Sp. Education Administration, Wayne State University; Ed.D. Education Administration and Policy Studies, University of Pittsburgh

Why did you start the Excellence in Education Journal (EEJ)?
In 2011, I was serving as an assistant professor of education at a small university in West Virginia. I had been a teacher and school principal, and was now leading efforts with graduate programs in education and internationalizing our campus. From these experiences, I saw the need to promote scholarly writing about practices in the education of children and adults worldwide and to share this writing in a free, open access, online journal format. I also saw that educators in less developed areas of the world do not have the means to access printed or subscription journals. These were driving forces behind the creation of this journal.

Did your love of academia begin at Ellis? How did Ellis shape your career path?
Without a doubt, my love of academia and success has been a result of my education at Ellis and my parents’ guidance and support. At Ellis, I developed a love for learning and a love for school because of the inspiring teachers and the many excellent learning opportunities they provided. My classmates and their parents were also a constant source of opportunities and support. Being in an optimal environment like the one provided at Ellis allows girls to flourish.

Do you have a mentor? How has that relationship benefited you professionally? Can you tell me about him or her?
I have had many mentors throughout my life. At The University of Michigan, I was fortunate to study organ with Dr. Marilyn Mason, one of the foremost organists in the world at that time. She was the first American woman to play a concert in Notre Dame in Paris and the first American ever to play a concert in Egypt. In her, I had a living example of a highly successful woman in a male, politically dominated field. In essence, she epitomized the Ellis motto ‘To Be Rather Than To Seem’, and continued to show me, just as Ellis had, how to be a successful woman.  

My parents were also great role models and mentors always encouraging me. They were highly motivated, rising out of a poor, immigrant families to become a medical doctor and nurse anesthetist respectively—essentially modeling the American dream. They both valued education and that influenced them to provide an Ellis education for me from kindergarten through twelfth grade.

What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring others from your professional life?
Being an educational leader is similar to being a great coach. Hire the best players—the faculty, staff, and administrators—share the vision, and then give them the opportunity and latitude to do their best work.

Was there a teacher or teachers at Ellis who had a particularly strong influence on your life?  
There were many teachers at Ellis who had a profound influence on me. From Pat Crosby, I learned to play great works for the organ and became immersed in the beauty, complexity, and majesty of the pipe organ. Pat Palermo exposed us to many great works of choral music. We sang pieces such as the Faure Requiem, Rutter’s Dancing Day, and Britten’s Ceremony of Carols with orchestral and harp accompaniments. As a junior, I wrote a piece for the Glee Club and she was so supportive to allow me to teach it to the other students and conduct the performance at the Winter Concert. Thanks to Norma Greco and John Miller, I learned to write which has served me well throughout my degrees and career. Judy Callomon and Marion Thompson insisted that we think critically and analytically and always be able to support our point of view.

For Ellis students reading this: is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know?
At Ellis, you will make friends for life who will go on to be remarkable, achieving, dedicated women. You and your Ellis peers are the embodiment of the School motto To Be, Rather Than To Seem. As you go on in life, you will appreciate your Ellis friends more and more.

What is the most interesting thing about you we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?
When I was in Upper School, there were bulletin boards in the hallway where college advertisements and other opportunities were posted. For several years, I noticed a posting about volunteering on an archaeological dig sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh. It looked so fascinating! I decided to apply in my senior year, was accepted, and I spent the summer after graduation volunteering on the dig.We excavated a farmer’s field near Meadowcroft Village where there were remains of a Native American settlement from about 100 A.D. It was a great experience because, as a volunteer, I was trained and permitted to do all of the tasks overseen by the professors. This included mapping and excavating the site, cleaning and labeling artifacts, and less glorious tasks like cooking dinner and cleaning up after the crew. It was a unique learning experience that I will never forget.

As a child, what did you want to be "when you grew up"?
My father was a medical doctor and I always thought I would be a doctor as well. When I was studying the organ with Pat Crosby in ninth grade, she introduced me to The Eight Little Preludes and Fugues by J.S. Bach. I remember learning the first one, in C Major, and being awe struck by the genius of Bach’s writing and the beautiful sound of the pipe organ at Calvary Episcopal Church, where I took organ lessons. I knew immediately that I wanted to major in organ and music. The love of learning that I developed at Ellis inspired me to want to remain in an academic setting as a teacher and administrator.

If you could interview anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Hillary Clinton. She has broken a glass ceiling for all women by running for President and winning the popular vote. She has tremendous resilience, stamina, and poise and is intelligent and well-spoken. I would love to work with her in some capacity some day.

How do you spend your free time?
I am a nationally certified downhill ski instructor. I teach skiing on the weekends and holidays at Hidden Valley Resort in Pennsylvania.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Creative, motivated, caring.