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Sophia Academy Welcomes New Head of School

November 8, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Sophia Academy recently officially welcome its new head of school, Maura L. Farrell at an installation ceremony at the Roger Williams Park Casino in Providence, Rhode Island.

“We are delighted to officially welcome Maura to Sophia Academy,” said Alison Eichler, President of the Board of Trustees during the program. “With each passing milestone, it becomes more apparent: Sophia under Maura’s leadership will continue to provide our students a challenging, engaging education – in and out of the classroom.”

“I have nothing but excitement and love in my heart for the next generation of Sophia graduates,” said Taiwo Demola, Sophia Class of 2014, Classical Class of 2018 and soon-to-be freshman at Mt. Holyoke College, who offered her reflections on Sophia during the ceremony. “It is my pleasure to welcome the new head of school into a community that means so much to me.”

“Educating girls makes lives, families, and communities stronger,” Farrell said during her remarks. “And educating middle school girls well helps them navigate a crucial turning point in their lives.”

Most recently, Farrell was the associate head of school at Winchester Thurston in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Wood Receives Presidential Recognition for Science Curriculum

June 25, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Sophia Academy Science teacher Alyssa Wood was recently officially recognized with a presidential award for teaching excellence in Science, the highest honor in the United States for K-12 teachers. In 2016 Alyssa was honored at the state level, which kicked off a rigorous two-year vetting process for this national award.

Wood was one of only 140 individuals nationwide (two from Rhode Island) to earn this honor from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation. She returned home to a certificate of special recognition from Governor Gina Raimondo.

Her excellence as a teacher was also featured in the July issue of Science Scope, the magazine of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). The article recounts a research project on teaching science that was conducted in Wood’s Sophia Academy classroom; the researcher observed her classroom and identified a set of principles and best practices for ensuring all students, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic background can develop “positive, science-linked identities.”
Sophia Academy


Moniz Receives Golden Apple Honors

January 5, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Sophia Academy today announced, Melissa Moniz was recently surprised with the Golden Apple Award from NBC10, Hasbro and the Rhode Island Department of Education. Member of the Sophia Class of 2017 nominated Moniz for the honor.

“Mrs. Moniz made us human calculators,” the graduates stated in their brief interview with Patrice Wood of NBC10.

Under Moniz’s direction the math program at Sophia has grown to focus on a student’s individual strengths and needs to build confidence. This attention combined with extra instructional time has resulted in every student completing Alegebra 1 by the time they graduate.

“We are ecstatic for Melissa to receive this honor – she is a tremendous teacher, colleague, friend and mentor to so many in the Sophia family,” said Gigi DiBello, head of school. “Our entire faculty is a tremendous team that has created a wonderful culture of learning at Sophia for all of our students.”


Sophia Academy Announces Next Head of School

September 20, 2017

Providence, Rhode Island – Sophia Academy today announced Maura L. Farrell will be its next Head of School as of July 1, 2018. Farrell is currently the associate head of school at Winchester Thurston in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She will succeed Gigi DiBello who will be leaving the school after 11 years of dedicated service.

“We are delighted to welcome Maura to Sophia Academy,” said Alison Eichler, Board President. “We are confident that she will fully embrace the mission and culture of Sophia – valuing our unique strengths – and build upon them. We also look forward to introducing her to our community partners over the coming year.”

“I am honored to accept this position at Sophia Academy, and I’m deeply impressed and inspired by the school,” said Farrell, Sophia’s next Head of School. “Sophia’s guiding principles, mission, and values resonate with my own convictions about education, about girls and women, and about equity. I feel particularly fortunate to be stepping into this role after Gigi DiBello’s many years of leadership, during which the school took so many significant leaps forward while maintaining its social justice ethos.”

Founded in 2001, Sophia Academy, located in the Elmwood neighborhood in Providence, currently enrolls 61 students and has a full time faculty of four.

“This is an exciting time for Sophia. Maura will be joining an outstanding team of faculty and staff, who come to school every day ready to support student learning in a safe, joyful and generative environment,” said DiBello, Sophia’s current Head of School. “I look forward to making my last year our strongest one yet, and to working with Maura on a seamless transition.”

“I wish to extend my deepest gratitude to Gigi for taking my vision of creating a safe place for middle school girls to find their voice, and making it a reality,” said Sister Mary Reilly, founder of Sophia Academy. “And I am more optimistic than ever about our future knowing Maura believes in our mission to change the lives of girls from low-income homes through an empowering education.”

In addition to her current position, Farrell has served as Assistant Head for Planning, Director of Institutional Advancement, Director of the Capital Campaign and Director of Communications at Winchester Thurston. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA and an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh.