The Ellis Family

Photo courtesy of the Ellis family

Glenside Farms is a busy and close-knit neighborhood, and wherever you look, the Ellis family is likely to be part of the fun.

Danielle and Michael Ellis met in Federal Hill and spent a lot of their early 20s in downtown Baltimore. Danielle was a teacher at Joppa View Elementary School, and when they started thinking about having children of their own, they knew that Perry Hall would be a great fit. "We love the town and all the people," Michael said. They found the right spot in Glenside Farms. Danielle says, "Our neighborhood is the best."

After 15 years of teaching at Joppa View, Danielle is now a professor of early childhood education at Towson University, where she supervises student teaching interns. "I'm on the other end now, helping the interns become teachers," she explains. "It's more flexible, but it still keeps me involved in the school setting."

Michael sells sporting goods supplies to high schools and colleges in Maryland. He worked from home even before the pandemic, sometimes traveling to meet with coaches or school athletic departments to find out how best to meet an individual school's sports equipment needs. As a hobby, Michael is also a pizza chef. He runs an Instagram account (@ellispizzajourney) showcasing his pizza adventures and recipes. His family appreciates the delicious experiments every Friday.

Their twin daughters, Jenni and Maci, are 8 and just completed second grade at Chapel Hill. They are a busy pair, playing an assortment of sports, including soccer with the Baltimore Union Elite team, enjoying school, and spending time with their friends. Their group of friends calls themselves the Cotton Candy Club, and this summer, they are looking for jobs to do around the neighborhood. The Ellis family's court often feels like "the kid street" because there are so many friends playing outside together.

Maci says that her favorite color is blue, and on the day she talked with Stroll Honeygo, she is planning a meeting with the Cotton Candy Club to make a TikTok video together. (They use a parent-monitored account for safety). Jenni adds that she is looking forward to an upcoming soccer tournament which is so far away that they'll need to spend the night in a hotel with a pool. She gushes, "And our soccer friends are going to be there!"

Jenni and Maci also make sure to introduce their "crazy and so cute" dog, Cali, who slept through the interview. The Ellis family had another dog, Zion, who passed away during the pandemic. Jenni says she might want to be a vet when she grows up. Maci says she wants to be a teacher someday.

The family travels to Avalon every summer, but most of the time, they spend their summers enjoying the neighborhood. Even Cali (the dog) has friends to play with in Glenside Farms. Michael is on the Glenside Farms' Events Committee, planning activities so that neighbors can get to know each other. Last year, Danielle helped to plan the Santa parade through the neighborhood. "It's been really fun for us," Michael says, "to watch our kids grow up the way we did."

During the pandemic, like everyone else, they spent more time at home and were even more intentional about spending time with their neighbors. Danielle's teaching experience became an encouragement for the neighborhood, and she was able to calm other parents' worries during this time. Maci and Jenni attended school virtually for the end of kindergarten and the beginning of first grade, but Michael and Danielle helped them establish routines and have plenty of outdoor playtimes. Second grade has been a delight for them to be able to attend in person and thrive in the patterns of "regular" school.

For the girls' eighth birthday, the Ellis family raised money for BARCS, where the family had gotten Zion. At Christmastime, the family helped organize gifts and donations for Mitch Bricks, a local nonprofit run by neighbor Mitch Villavaso that brings Lego bricks and educational programs to homeless shelters and underprivileged kids.

The Ellis family appreciates how everyone in their neighborhood looks out for each other. "There's always someone to hang with," Danielle says. Michael adds, "I feel like Perry Hall as a whole is an active community." They appreciate the parks and the many ways to get involved. Michael has a tattoo that reads, "Don't ever give up." Both he and Danielle try to live by that every day, doing all they can to help other people and keep doing their own work well. He says, "It's important to realize how lucky we all are."