Lisa Dias, Class of 2016G

Dr. Lisa Dias has devoted her career to education, and, along the way, she continued her own academic journey.

From the Front of the Classroom to Head of the School

After high school, Lisa attended the University of New Hampshire on a full scholarship. She played Division I soccer and earned a bachelor’s degree in health and human services.

She spent a few years as a therapeutic recreation specialist for a Boston-area health center. Then, in 2001, Lisa began her journey at World Academy as a health and physical education teacher. Today, she’s the Head of School.

Located in Nashua, New Hampshire, World Academy is an independent school serving students from birth through eighth grade. In addition to offering year-round early-childhood, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school education, World Academy runs a before- and after-school program and a summer camp. All of these initiatives focus on “the whole child.”

Lifelong Learning

Intending to pursue a leadership role in education, Lisa returned to the classroom while teaching full-time. She earned a master of education, with a focus on physical education and health and K-12 certification, from Plymouth State University.

In 2007, Lisa took on the role of principal at World Academy. As she was settling into her new position, the school “was embarking on the journey” of adding a middle school.

“I knew at that time, that in order to be the most effective leader I could be, I needed to further my education in order to gain the necessary knowledge and skills,” she says.

It was the desire to continue learning that led her to Rivier. The university appealed to Lisa because it was local—close to her home and work—and perhaps more so because the program was designed with flexibility for working adults

“Having the mix of online and face-to-face, and having classes on weekends, made it possible to manage having a family, career, and pursuing a degree,” she says.

Lisa did her due diligence and explored several doctoral programs. But after speaking with Dr. John Gleason, director of the Ed.D program at Riv, she made her choice.

“That meeting was ultimately the reason why I chose Rivier because I left confident that I could be successful,” she recalls.

Lisa says her professors taught her how to think dynamically and critically—important skills for a position of leadership—and that each of them brought a different perspective and area of expertise to the classroom.

“I learned a great deal from each of them, in various ways, from my first meeting with Dr. Gleason when I was initially considering the Ed. D. program, to the ongoing support from Dr. Angela DeSilva-Mousseau during the research and writing of my dissertation,” she says. “And from Dr. Joseph Spadano, who was instrumental in helping me prepare for my dissertation defense.”

Spending time with her cohort—a group of working professionals—was one of the most memorable parts of her five years in the program.

“We’re individuals from all different backgrounds, with all different life and career experiences,” she says. “We learned a great deal from one another and continue to keep in touch and even support each other.”

Leadership: Leveling Up

Lisa served as principal at World Academy for 10 years, and with a doctorate in leadership and learning, she was poised for her next challenge. In November 2017, World Academy named Dr. Lisa Dias as Head of School.

“With more than 450 children, ages six weeks through eighth grade, and over 900 parents and 60 staff members, I never really know what the day is going to bring!” she says of her newest role. “Everything I do involves supporting my administrative leadership team, teachers, children, and families.”

With nearly 20 years at World Academy, Lisa still thoroughly enjoys being part of a learning community that strives to make a positive difference in the lives of children and students. As her role evolved from teacher to leader, “supporting teachers in the important work they do each day” has become a favorite part of her job.

Lisa counts her Ed.D. as one of her greatest achievements for “all of the hard work, discipline, and perseverance it required.” Her background as an athlete—competitive soccer and ice hockey—likely contributed to that persistence.

“Sports were a huge part of my life growing up and helped shaped who I am today,” she explains.

Serving as Head of School keeps her quite busy, but Lisa manages to find the time to combine her leadership skills and her life-long passion for sports. She coached her son’s hockey team for a few years, and, now, she coaches the middle school girls’ soccer team at World Academy.

Student. Teacher. Principal. Coach. Head of School. Dr. Lisa Dias’ academic and professional trajectory—and an unwavering love of learning—led her from one challenge to the next, and ultimately to a doctorate at Rivier.

You can learn more about our doctoral programs, including the Ed.D in Leadership and Learning, to prepare for your next challenge.


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