Alumna of the Issue: Ellen Boiselle ‘85

Ellen Boiselle graduated from Groton in 1985. After leaving the circle, she attended Yale where she majored in English. Throughout college, she was never sure what she would choose as a career path, but found that she had always had a fascination with psychology. However, toward the end of her time at Yale, Ellen discovered that her true calling was in teaching. By 1991, Ellen had her Masters in teaching from Columbia University and was ready to begin teaching elementary students.
Ellen taught math in elementary schools for the first portion of her career. Toward the middle of her career, Ellen questioned her choice of elementary students and began to wonder if she would enjoy teaching older high school and college students instead. After dreaming of getting a PhD in American Studies for some time, she returned to Yale. However, she soon realized that American Studies was not what she had previously imagined it to be. She found that her new field focused primarily on publishing personal works instead of learning how to educate older students properly. Therefore, two years into achieving her PhD, she left Yale and went back to teaching math in elementary school.
After getting married to her husband, Phil, in 1994, Ellen moved to Philadelphia and continued to teach elementary students. It was here that Ellen began to develop her fascination for neuropsychological profiling. Over her years of experience in the classroom, she observed how children learned different types of math problems in completely different ways and was intrigued as to why this was the case. She studied and learned the different styles of learning that children have, how to teach them effectively, as well as how to determine which style of learning would work for each individual student.
Today, Ellen works at Boston Children’s Hospital, proctoring and analyzing diagnostic mathematics tests. She now has her PhD in learning disabilities, specifically mathematical learning disabilities and works to teach others including children, parents, and other teachers about math and effective ways to learn various types of math problems.
A critical aspect of Ellen’s job is educating her fellow educators. She helps teachers learn what to look for to identify a child who may require extra help and explains the neurological reasons as to why the child is struggling in class. She said, “I educate teachers on how to bring appropriate testing and teaching methods from my office into their classrooms.” She also helps translate clinical discoveries from the Children’s Hospital into updated information and teaching methods for schoolroom teachers, “and vice versa: how observations by schoolroom teachers can further improve clinical research on learning disabilities.”
Although Ellen graduated from the Circle some time ago, she continues to have a significant presence on campus to this day. Since 1985, Ellen has served on an alumni panel discussing the importance and complexity of math education, a panel for Fifth and Sixth formers on their choice of college and career path, and several other panels where she served next to her former teachers and superiors. Ellen says that when she is on campus, she likes seeing faculty she remembers from her time here and particularly enjoys saying thank you for their extraordinary hard work on her behalf. She said, “Faculty were incredibly understanding, and in addition to being very good teachers, they helped me to grow up. And they were caring and thoughtful in equal measure, and that was sort of impressive given how difficult I probably was.” She also said that it is always fascinating to see how the school is developing both physically and socially, “I don’t think I realized it at the time, but it’s a much more welcoming and inclusive campus than it used to be.” Last year, Ellen was honored with Groton’s alumni community service prize for her work in the diagnosis of disabilities, for her exceptional achievements in teaching and in her medical field. Her job allows her to do a fair amount of work within the community because it involves working with kids and their families, helping them to understand how they can help their kids in addition to helping schools both local and national understand the challenges that have to do with learning disabilities and tactics to overcome these challenges. Ellen stated, “Simply put, my goal is to help people identify the common ground and to help them bridge fields.” We look forward to seeing more from Ellen Boiselle in the future, both on campus and in her field as a unique educator.