Ella Shusterman


There is a lyric to a country music song that goes like this: “Just stay on track and never look back.”  The song tells a story about being passionately focused right where you are but looking ahead to a great future.  Perhaps the song is really about junior Ella Shusterman.  North Shore’s March Student of the Month!

The first thing Ella says about North Shore is that she indeed found her passion here.  Perhaps passions is a more apt word.  She loves her classes, her teachers and all of her long list of varied and interesting co-curriculars.  However, what Ella loves most of all is helping others.  Engaging in Chesed is one of her core personal values.

Last spring (shhh – that time that shall not be named…), Ella and a friend from another Yeshiva co-founded “Teach for Tomchei.”  Their mission is Zoom-tutoring children experiencing academic challenges due to being unable to attend school.  The girls’ enthusiasm convinced seven more girls from North Shore to volunteer as tutors in the program!  Ella is currently tutoring a second-grade girl who attends public school and adores every minute of seeing the child’s successes.

In the spirit of helping others, Ella is considering becoming a doctor.  Science is her thing, and she has been taking full advantage of all that NSHAHS has to offer in that category.  Starting in her freshman year, she submitted not one but two science research projects.  First was “Mirror Reflective Drawing” and how it can be applied to improving eye-hand coordination in stroke patients.  Ella and her partner Jennifer Katz tested male against female students by having them trace around a star reflected in a three-way mirror.  (They found the females were more successful.)  They won High Honors at Long Island Science Congress (LISC) and Second Place in the SAAWA (South Asian American Women’s Alliance) science fair.  For the second project, Ella used artificial intelligence to detect depression and won Honorable Mention at Toshiba ExploraVision and Best Research Paper at New York Youth Summit.

Taking her desire for more science even further, Ella participated in a week-long Intro to Molecular Genetics course at Cold Spring Harbor DNA Lab.  She then applied the skills she learned to her tenth-grade biochemistry research project with her partner Abigail Mottahedeh called “Synergistic Effects of Rhamnolipids and Antibiotics Against Bacteria”.  Unfortunately, their presentation was cancelled.  This year they are augmenting the project under the guise of Science Research instructor Ms. McCarthy.  Last summer Ella completed two virtual edX courses related to biomedical engineering with professors from Harvard and MIT.

Ella has a very long list of co-curricular activities.  There’s Medical Explorers, Medical Minds, Science Society, Chesed Club, Torah Bowl, Traveling Math Team, Model Congress and Girls Who Code to name a few!  Add to that writer for North Shore Notes (D’var Torah and politics) and New Innovations (science newspaper), Creative Writing Club and Co-Founder of the Experimental Club where members are looking forward to the next meeting when they will learn about making crystals and what produces the crystal effect.

Giving of herself, empathy and always thinking of others is Ella’s innate gift.  This year she is working with Ms. McCarthy on a science journal showcasing projects to aid in getting students’ science research projects the recognition they deserve.  Having had her own research project canceled, she knows the feelings of disappointment first-hand and aspires to alleviate that for others.  Ella is a peer tutor for geometry, trigonometry and chemistry, and as captain of Model UN this year, she enjoys helping guide other students with their project prep.  Last summer, Ella worked at and ran her own “Covid friendly” day camp and donated the proceeds to Emunah, an organization in Israel for at-risk children.

Now here’s the fun stuff…

Ella enjoys baking all kinds of cupcakes for Shabbos.  Travel to warm places like Costa Rica, Jamaica and Israel and watching and reading Rom-Coms (romantic comedies) are very good things.  She plays hockey and tennis and has played for North Shore.  Ella has played the piano for more than half her life and has competed as a high scorer at NYSSMA.  Favorite food and color?  Avocado toast and Light Purple.  Little known fact?  Ella loooves country music!  A lot!

Whether she is volunteering, studying or engaging in one of her many and varied school activities, Ella is in her element.  She exists in that place of gliding through her day with poise, happiness and glow!  She seems to have the breeze at her back and taking others along and uplifting them is her joy.

Outstanding efforts Ella!  Congratulations!