NASHUA — Nashua school officials welcomed Lisa Gingras on board as the district’s new athletic director Monday night.
Gingras, a Nashua native and award-winning math teacher at Nashua High South, starts her $88,000-a-year job leading sports for the district on Aug. 1. The Board of Education approved her by a vote of 8 to 1.
Gingras will replace Tom Arria, who will head south to Cambridge, Mass., to become the new athletic director at Cambridge Rindge & Latin.
“She was a gifted math student, a gifted teacher and a gifted coach in Hudson where she has been giving us headaches in volleyball for years,” said Board of Education member Steven Hass. “She loves Nashua and wants to be in Nashua. The coaches all have high regard for her, and she’ll be an excellent athletic director.”
Board President Robert Hallowell said Gingras has the best set of skills and credentials for the job.
“She has the asset of being a strong teacher,” said Hallowell. “I hope she ties together academics and athletics, which is good particularly if you use (sports) as an incentive.”
Gingras, who was named the 2013 Math Educator of the Year by the New Hampshire Teachers of Mathematics, graduated from Nashua High South in 1990. In her first job as a high school coach, she led Salem’s softball team to a Class A state title. She has also coached varsity volleyball at Alvirne High for the past 13 years.
Dennis Ryder, the one board member to vote against hiring Gingras, admitted her resume and accomplishments were impressive. However, Ryder felt Nashua would do better to keep Gingras in the math department rather than on the playing fields.
“I think all this attention to athletics is ridiculous,” said Ryder, who suggested Nashua’s math test scores were much more important that its game scores.
Ryder also expressed concern that Gingras did not have enough experience to run the district’s sports program.
“She’s never been an athletic director,” he said. “The job is enormously complicated. We keep putting untrained and untried people in at full salary and that’s not fair to the taxpayer.”
Board member Sandra Ziehm also regretted that Nashua was losing an “excellent” math teacher.
“But if she chooses one (job) over the other, who are we to determine her future based on our needs,” said Ziehm.
Other board members also acknowledged that moving Gingras to the AD’s office was a trade off, but they added she would bring some highly-valued consistency to the district’s leadership.
“I was most impressed with her background in various sports and coaching,” said board member William Mosher. “And her skill in mathematics will make the organizational job a piece of cake.”