Ellis has worked for the City School District of Albany for the entire 29 years of her career. She fell in love with the district and urban education in her student-teaching experiences at Saint Rose and was there to stay for the long run. An Albany Schools Golden Apple Award winner in 2013 and 2020, she’s also mentored countless Saint Rose student-teachers, many of whom she persuades to stay with the school district.
What keeps you in the field after 29 years?
I love change. I see challenges in change. And the last year, there was a lot of change. I never thought in my career I would see such a fast, rapid pace of the integration of technology and education. I know teachers were struggling, but they produced such phenomenal results in the last 20 months with integrating technology for our students. And the idea of children having one-to-one computers, I also did not think I would see in my career span. That means we’re ready for the next step. And that really is to politically look and see why we haven’t always had computers for children. There are political issues and inequities that we need to work on.
What made you so passionate about urban education?
At the beginning of my career, when I was at Arbor Hill, I remember going into the principal and saying, “There are no books for my students to read.” And she said, “We have tons of books in the library.” And I said, “There are no characters that reflect my class. There are are no multicultural books.” And she said, “We don’t have them.”
That’s really when I got into technology. A digital camera had just come on to the market, and it was about a thousand dollars. And [noted philanthropist] Charles Touhey bought that so I could use PowerPoint, which was the latest technology tool, to create electronic books using my students’ pictures so that we could write stories that were multicultural.
I find the children of Albany are unique and outspoken, and I like that. And the teachers in Albany are the best of the best because they have to be the best.