Kathleen Nelson

Founder / President

Originally from Washington, D.C. and a daughter of the principal of Capitol Page School, Kathy Nelson’s perspective was seriously influenced by growing up in a rich melting pot of diversity. Her vision for World Academy was informed by her social justice background and the wonderful role models she found all around her in our Nation’s Capital, every day.

After graduating from the University of Maryland, teaching high school there and relocating to New Hampshire with her husband, Gary, they founded Small World Learning Center in 1980 after assessing the need for a high quality, professional child care and education program for working parents in the Greater Nashua area. While taking graduate courses in Early Childhood Education from Gwen and Henry Morgan, renowned gurus in the field, at Wheelock College in Boston, Kathy started a program for 38 three to five year old children, based on the theories of Erik Erikson, John Dewey and Jean Piaget, focusing on the health, learning styles and stages of development of young children.

From that beginning the school’s pedagogy, vision and location expanded exponentially to the World Academy of today which serves over 500 students, daily, in programs from Infant through Grade 8 in accredited, integrated, widely acclaimed programs, on a world class campus; while espousing the same tenet that was embraced then…in order to truly and authentically educate, nurture and enrich the ‘whole child’, we must include the whole family.

Thoughtfully expanded over the years to address the “whole person”, World Academy is designed to provide authentic, progressive experiences that promote cognitive, social, emotional, physical, creative and cultural development; and higher level thinking. Classes address individual learning styles, multiple intelligences and personalization for our students and are based on the 21st century model concepts embracing problem solving, creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking skills. Striving to support student learning on How and Where to find the information they will need to excel in the jobs of tomorrow and become leaders in their global futures, our students are taught in collaborative groups by inspired teachers in a world class environment that nurtures cohesiveness, empathy, and the pursuit of knowledge. The curriculum is constantly being assessed, expanded and enriched by new educational tenets and neuroscience research to give students “a world of opportunities” and more comprehensive information about their world.

Licensed by the NH Bureau of Child Care Standards and Licensing and accredited by the prestigious New England Association of Schools and Colleges, World Academy is a leader in Early Childhood, Elementary and Middle School education with a Summer Camp component and stands alone with such high quality programs, prestigious accreditation and service to such a varied age range in all of New Hampshire.

Today, Kathy and Gary have a son, Garrett, and live in Hollis, NH with their golden retrievers, but Kathy spends her days driving the quality and vision of World Academy.


  • B.A. in Education from the University of Maryland
  • Masters candidate in Educational Supervision – Rivier College
  • Graduate work in Early Childhood Education – Supervision and Curriculum Planning/Early Childhood Education – Wheelock College, Boston, MA
  • Southern NH University – Supervision Graduate Courses
  • Teacher Certification – States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maryland
  • Notary Public, State of NH


  • 1980 – Present – Founder and Executive Director, Head of School, and President of Small World Learning Center and Academy, The World Schools, World Academy in Nashua, NH
  • 1977-1980 – Director and Supervisor for 3 sites at Growing Tree Child Development Centers in Nashua, Amherst, Merrimack
  • 1975-1977 – Kindergarten Teacher and Director at Growing Tree Child Development Center in Nashua, NH
  • 1973-1975 – Ninth Grade Social Studies and Social Sciences Teacher at Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg, MD

Awards and Achievements

  • Selected one of Network Publications Women of the Year – 1990
  • Awarded Providian’s Child Care Leader – 2000
  • Nominated for the Nashua Chamber of Commerce’s Business Person of the Year 2004
  • Citizen’s Bank Business Award – 2005
  • Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow

Committees and Memberships

  • Nashua West Rotarian – Rotary West – 10 years
  • Rotary Youth Leadership Award Program Chair – 3 years
  • Rotary Fellowship Committee Chair – 4 years
  • City of Nashua Child Care Advisory Commission member 15 years and Chair for 4 years
  • City of Nashua’s Comment and Review Committee – 3 years
  • Trustee of the Humane Society for Greater Nashua
  • Member in good standing:
    • Early Learning NH
    • National Association for the Education of Young Children
    • Society for Supervision and Curriculum Development
    • Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue
    • Humane Society of the US
    • National Association of Elementary School Principals
    • National Association of Notaries
    • National Organization of Women


  • “Service is the rent we pay for a space on this earth.”
  • “From those who have been given much, Much is expected.”