Ella Quainton, a Minneapolis QVS Fellow, is serving with Friends School of Minnesota, a Quaker progressive education school in St.Paul, MN. As a Communications Assistant, Ella is instrumental in developing creative ways to tell FSMN’s story, including using animation, videography, and creative writing.

In April 2022, Ella wrote a blog post and designed a short animation centered around a student quote from meeting for worship.

“Meeting for worship is about deep presence. It is not about striving for perfection, or perfect stillness, but instead about learning to sit and be with our imperfect selves.”

– Ella Quainton

Ella shared some insights about the experience of working with Friends School of Minnesota:

I am so grateful to have found a new placement at the Friends School of Minnesota, a Quaker progressive education school in St.Paul, MN. As someone interested in critical pedagogy and progressive education, being in the Communications Department has offered me an opportunity to look closely at how we represent Quaker values—simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship— in the classroom and through the stories we choose to tell about the school. My role as a Communications Assistant requires me to be thoughtful about distilling the presence of Quakerism in an educational setting through creative projects.

Scroll through photos from Ella’s year in QVS!

In my time here, I have written reflections, created illustrations, animations, and short videos for social media and newsletters that reflect the values of the school in a way that makes current families feel proud and makes prospective families curious. I have had to develop an “eye” that is closely aligned with the Friends School brand, while also one that is mindful of the ways prospective families are reading and resonating with the school. As someone interested in graphic design and illustration, I have learned the differences between my personal style and the style of the organization and where those two things can intersect. Working closely with the Director of Communications has pushed me to articulate thoughtful edits to all content that the school delivers through all communication platforms. I feel really grateful that I have been so supported in my role to explore what moves me at Friends school and to make it come alive visually, through exciting mediums like animation, videography, and creative writing.

“Worship briefly takes us away from the noise of a digital world, where our attention is pulled in many directions and skewed by algorithms and countless online opinions. Instead, worship draws us into simplicity, a core Quaker value. It is so easy to become disconnected from ourselves when we live in a culture of self-curation via social media, that reduces our contradictions, flattens our multitudes, and allows little grace for our imperfections.”

More about Ella

Ella Quainton (she/her) was born in Paris, France, where she lived for the first ten years of her life, before moving to Princeton, New Jersey. She was raised Unitarian Universalist, which instilled in her a lifelong passion for interfaith exploration. Ella graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Creative Writing where she was a Writing Fellow. Her senior year, she began work as the Assistant to the Director at the Loka Initiative, an education and outreach non-profit at the University of Wisconsin-Madison supporting faith-led environmental and climate efforts locally and around the world by helping build capacity of faith leaders and culture keepers of indigenous traditions. As a barista, Ella has a passion for latte art and all things coffee related. She loves to doodle and draw, climb, read, go on bike rides/walks with friends, watch the moon. Ella is excited to explore Quaker values and ethics through intentional living.


Why participate in QVS instead of applying for a job directly with a nonprofit?

QVS partners with organizations that otherwise might not be able to hire someone to help build up their capacity (perhaps adding a new role or helping spearhead a new campaign).

QVS Fellows are also offered greater wrap-around support in their QVS city (housing and intentional community, training in conflict resolution and anti-oppression work, spiritual accompaniment) to help them engage in service long term and avoid burnout. 

One QVS Alum from 2016-2017 shared:

“QVS gave me a sense of direction — I learned at the end of the year that I needed more education, and more critical thinking around the best space for me to make long-term impact in a community. I found out what my strengths and weaknesses were, and gained clarity towards my next steps… 

In my year-long position, I did a lot of typical first-job-out-of-college evaluation, but in my community I think I arrived at those conclusions faster because I had folks at home I could talk to about my experiences and feelings. It also unprogrammed the definition of success I maintained for myself before QVS; now, success is more than work, but also about how I am able to care for myself and listen to my feelings. I owe QVS thanks for more holistic visioning.”

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