As a parent, it’s important to you to feed your daughter’s sense of curiosity and love of learning. We understand—you don’t want her to ever lose her thirst for knowledge; her ability to ask out-of-the-box, yet surprisingly brilliant questions; her voracious appetite for new information about her ever-expanding world; or her fierce desire to not just know the how behind things, but the why.
So when you think about your daughter’s school—the place where she’ll spend the majority of her day—you want her to be somewhere that encourages her curiosity in an intellectually stimulating, forward-thinking environment. Here are three ways The Ellis School supports a love of learning:
1. By Encouraging Discussion and Debate
We encourage girls to make authentic, purposeful connections with all sorts of different people. One of the many ways in which these connections are fostered is through lively discussion and constructive debate around topics in the classroom. Middle school in particular is a time of tremendous growth in abstract thinking, and our collaborative atmosphere encourages deep discussion and respectful discourse in order to support girls as they reach beyond their comfort zones and tackle difficult questions that keep them engaged as active participants in the learning process.
An example of this is our eighth grade English classes where students are asked to discuss a writing prompt about the book To Kill a Mockingbird, their summer reading assignment. If you were to drop into the classroom on this particular day, you would witness every student engaged and eagerly awaiting their opportunity to discuss and debate their thoughts and reactions to the prompt: the author's choice of telling the story from a child’s perspective. You would see students listening to the views of their classmates—respectful when their opinions differ, and eager to learn from each other—but confident about sharing and defending their own opinions. You would also see eighth grade teachers deftly facilitating these conversations to create an atmosphere in which students grow in their ability to wrestle with complex and challenging ideas.
2. By Creating Connections in the Community
We believe that by cultivating a learning environment that keeps engagement with the world at the center of the school experience, girls develop a deeper understanding of subject matter, the capacity for critical thinking and application of knowledge in complex situations, and the ability to engage in lifelong learning.
Girls learn by doing at Ellis. They tussle with complicated, real-world problems. Grade 2 students are urban planners and architects, constructing an entire city out of recyclable materials as they learn about the city of Pittsburgh; first grade students learn about societal changes as they study the history of The Ellis School and interview community members as part of creating a Writer’s Museum; kindergarten girls learn about famous artists and experiment with paints and brushes, scissors and glue before visiting Carnegie Museum of Art; and pre-kindergarten students learn how the story of Cinderella connects to various cultures represented both around the world and within our school community.
By connecting students’ learning to real-world topics and challenges, we nurture a child’s enchantment with the world so her fascination grows rather than diminishes.
3. By Empowering Mentorship Across Ages
One of the myths about girls’ schools is that girls are mean or lack strong relationships with each other. We know that this could not be further from the truth. Relationships are central to learning and because of our close-knit, all-girls environment, our students develop uniquely strong bonds with their peers across campus.
This is most evident in our shared community expectation that older students act as role models and mentors to younger girls. One of the ways this manifests itself is at the start of each school year. In our Upper School, high school girls—including the student council president and senior class president—are featured speakers during the opening assembly that kicks off the year. When younger students have concerns, the senior girls are appropriately supportive and encouraging. They mentor these students through their transition into high school and develop strong bonds with them throughout the year during sister class activities, clubs, group projects, and on athletics teams.
Through our unmatched, girl-centered environment located in the heart of Pittsburgh's East End, your daughter won’t just ask thoughtful questions and pursue answers in the classroom—she’ll flex her mind throughout her day as discussions and debates spill into hallways and other shared spaces; she’ll make connections in the city of Pittsburgh as she visits museums, universities, and institutions; and she’ll learn from her friends across grade levels who mentor and advise her on papers, projects, and presentations. Ultimately, these enriching experiences foster a love of learning in our graduates and beyond.
Are you interested in learning more about our unique environment
and how it supports a love of learning?