Stradford-Dai Assumes Position as Greenhill’s New Head of Preschool


Photo courtesy of Aspire Capitol Heights Academy.

Tej Dhingra, Greenhill Today Director

Rhema Stradford-Dai, who is currently the principal at Aspire Capitol Heights Academy, will assume the role of Greenhill’s new Head of Preschool  on Aug. 1.

“I always wanted to be a teacher, for as long as I can remember,” Stradford-Dai said.

Although she took a different path in college, studying politics and law at Hofstra University, Stradford-Dai said she decided to follow her passion for education after graduating and entered the workforce.

Stradford-Dai worked in a very diverse set of educational environments. These ranged from being a teacher and principal at local public, private and charter schools in her home state of New York and abroad. Past employers include Aspire Public Schools and the Concordia International School Shanghai.

Head of School Lee Hark commends the extensive amount of work Stradford-Dai has done in this arena.

“Rhema quickly established herself as the top candidate for this position… Throughout her career, she has done outstanding work with developing curriculum and supporting faculty, too. She will be an excellent addition to our administrative team and a fantastic leader for our school.”

Being exposed to different types of schools early on in her career reinforced and expanded values in her life such as empathy, respect, honor, integrity, compassion, faith, justice, determination and love, according to Stradford-Dai.

“[These values] are what led me to Greenhill because I found that they are very much aligned with Greenhill’s core values,” Stradford-Dai said. “I believe that it is a strength to have that alignment.”

Stradford-Dai said she is especially interested in the role education plays in tackling broader societal issues centered around equity and overcoming the opportunity gap. Schools have a unique role to transform the status quo and ensure that less fortunate students are receiving sufficient resources to thrive, said Stradford-Dai.

Greenhill is doing exactly what she has been advocating for her whole career: taking extra steps to ensure that students from different backgrounds have equal opportunities of receiving a Greenhill education, Stradford-Dai said.

“Greenhill is doing hard work as a top-tier school that is financially need-blind, examining their structures and practices to be more inclusive,” Stradford-Dai said. “I intend to fully support that work as a leader for equity.”

In addition to diversity in socioeconomic class, Stradford-Dai also commends Greenhill on its racial diversity.

“I am blown away that more than 60% of the students are students of color and that more than 30% of faculty are people of color!” Stradford-Dai said.

Another factor about Greenhill that Stradford-Dai considered was the culture of positivity fostered by students, faculty and administrators, she said.

“When I met people from Greenhill during my very first video interview, what stood out to me was authenticity and warmth,” Stradford-Dai said. “[It] surprised me and gave me joy.”

“I believe my reach and impact must be deep, far-reaching and focused on relationship building,” Stradford-Dai said. “I am thrilled to continue this work with them to build and preserve the beautiful community that already exists at Greenhill.”

As she prepares to embark on her first year as Head of Preschool, Stradford-Dai said she is excited to immerse herself into the complex fabric of the Greenhill community.

“What’s at the top of mind for me is to listen, learn and build,” Stradford-Dai said. “I want to hear from my new community, learn about the long and storied history of Greenhill’s people and build relationships with my new community.”