About TIA

TIA's Academics

The Inspiration Academy is a family owned and operated innovative K-12 private school in Fountain Hills, Arizona where students are always celebrated for the unique individuals they are. Academic subjects are taught through interdisciplinary thematic units, hands-on activities, and collaborative projects. Creativity, curiosity, and outside-the-box thinking are encouraged, and self-confidence is built as the students engage and persevere through challenging problem-based projects.

Community Modules

The Inspiration Academy provides a nurturing environment with a growth mindset where students are supported as they set goals and hold high expectations of themselves. Classes are taught in a multi-age collaborative environment that facilitates social-emotional skills, differentiated instruction, mentorship opportunities, and leadership development. The students make real-world connections as they actively engage in the community through volunteering and service-learning projects. In The Inspiration Academy’s Community Modules, the students are connected to local professionals who share their expertise and passions to enhance our curriculum and teach the students about health, nutrition, gardening, culinary arts, character development, economics, environmental education, performing arts, and more.

Through our school’s personalized, holistic approach, students experience transformational learning where they are inspired and empowered to think critically, believe in their abilities, and make a positive difference in the world.

Download Our School's Catalog

Download our school’s catalog to learn more about our school’s many exciting programs and see why so many families love TIA.

Watch Lisa Ristuccia, our private school’s director, talk about the many programs that make up The Inspiration Academy’s exciting curriculum.

Lisa Ristuccia, Founder of TIA


Lisa Ristuccia has been in the education field for over 25 years. She has worked with students of various ages and in different schools and organizations. Lisa taught at Fountain Hills Charter School for 7 years. When the charter school unfortunately closed because the bond holders didn’t renew the charter’s mortgage agreement, Lisa created The Inspiration Academy to give her displaced students an engaging alternate learning environment. She believes that families deserve to have educational options for their children because a one-size-fits-all type of education definitely does not fit all.

Lisa recognizes the strengths and unique personalities of all students. She encourages creativity and outside-the-box thinking, which are the skills that are the foundations of successful problem-solvers. Lisa acknowledges the students’ interests and passions and builds curriculum around them. It is her belief that learning needs to be fun, interactive, collaborative, and meaningful.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), Cultural Studies, and Environmental Education are topics that are close to Lisa’s heart, and she shares her knowledge and excitement with her students. Lisa is actively involved in the community and encourages her students to get involved as well. Her students often volunteer with her to help animals, people, and the environment. She encourages students to believe in themselves and work to make a positive difference in the world.

Educational Background
  • Valedictorian of Curwensville Area High School
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Northern Arizona University
  • Doctoral Studies in Education with a Focus on The Importance of Play at Walden University
  • Graduate Level Work in Educational Leadership at Arizona State University & Grand Canyon University
  • Graduate Level Work in Gifted Education at Arizona State University
  • Study Abroad with a focus on International Comparative Education at Agder University in Kristiansand, Norway
  • Study Abroad with a focus on International Relations & Cultural Studies in Sevilla, Spain
  • National Geographic Educator Certification
  • Educational courses and training in: School Law; Teaching Structured English Immersion/English as a Second Language; Singapore Math; Core Knowledge; Spalding; SEI & World Language Academy; Multisensory Grammar; Developing Meta-Cognition for Struggling Readers; Classroom Management; Foss Kit Training; Using Critical Thinking Skills in Language Arts Instruction for Gifted Students; Meeting the Needs of the Spatial Learner; Instructional Problems in Jr High & Middle School; Parent Involvement in Education; Using Giant Maps to Teach Geography; PBS SciGirls; ASU’s iTeach ELLs STEM Camp; Museum of the American Revolution Professional Development Courses; Arizona Game & Fish Department Teacher Professional Development Workshops
  • Additional courses and training in: Business, Marketing, Management, Economics, Communications Media, and Photography
Community Involvement
  • Arizona Association for Environmental Education – Board of Directors, Treasurer
  • Biophilic Cities Fountain Hills – Vice-President
  • National Wildlife Federation – Arizona Eco-Schools Coordinator
  • National Wildlife Federation – Mayor’s Monarch Pledge Point of Contact for Fountain Hills
  • National Wildlife Federation – Community Wildlife Habitat Program Lead for Fountain Hills
  • Fountain Hills Sister Cities – Advisory Commission & Board of Directors, Secretary
  • Keep Scottsdale Beautiful – Board of Directors, Keep America Beautiful Liaison
  • The Scott Foundation – Volunteer & Vision Keeper
  • Sunset Kiwanis – Member
Teaching Certification

Arizona Teaching Certificate – Elementary Education K-8

  • Additional Endorsement
    • Structured English Immersion Endorsement, K-12
  • Additional Approved Areas
      • Middle Grades Mathematics
      • Middle Grades Language Arts
      • Middle Grades Social Studies

National Geographic Certified Educator

Teaching Experience
  • Adamo Education Microschool, Multi-age Classroom Teacher (4th-7th)
  • Fountain Hills Charter School, Multi-age Classroom Teacher (5th-8th; 2nd-3rd; 3rd-5th; 3rd-8th)
  • Cactus View Elementary, Multi-age Gifted Specialist (4th-6th)
  • Sunset Canyon Elementary, Multi-age Gifted Specialist (4th-6th)
  • Benchmark Charter School, Classroom Teacher (4th grade)
  • Grayhawk Elementary School, Classroom Teacher (1st grade)
  • EduPreneurship Student Center Charter School, Multi-age Classroom Teacher (4th-8th; K-1st)
  • Paradise Valley Unified School District, Substitute Teacher (K-12, plus special education)
  • Curwensville Area School District, Substitute Teacher (K-12, plus library)
Additional Educational Experience
  • Trendsetters Through Education Club Facilitator, Fountain Hills Charter School
  • Arizona Eco-School Program Developer, National Wildlife Federation
  • Summer Camp Division Director, Camp Lohikan
  • Online Robotics Camp Instructor, UBTECH Robotics
  • Independent Study Mentor, Prescott College
  • Internship Coordinator, OdySea Aquarium
  • Before & After School Instructor, Cactus View Elementary, Sunset Canyon Elementary, Tavan Elementary, Fountain Hills Charter School
  • Odyssey of the Mind Coach, Fountain Hills Charter School
  • Faculty Advisor for Middle School Student Leadership Summer Program in Washington D.C., Envision Junior National Young Leadership Conference (JrNYLC)
  • Online Professional Development Course Instructor, Central Intermediate Unit #10
  • Teacher Professional Development Instructor, Paradise Valley Unified School District
  • Foreign Exchange Student Host
  • Volunteer Teacher Aide, Laguna Elementary & Penn-Grampian Elementary
  • Nanny (newborn-age 12)
Workshop & Professional Development Presentations
  • Arizona Association for Environmental Education Conference (AAEE)
  • National Science Teachers Association Conference (NSTA)
  • Phoenix Art Museum Educator Resource Fair
  • National Marine Educators Association Annual Conference
  • ASU’s Teacher STEM Camp
  • Paradise Valley Unified School District Professional Development
  • CIU #10 Professional Development
Additional Work Experience

SciTech Institute

    • Resource Directory Development, STEM Ecosystem, SciTech Festival Street Team Lead, Curriculum Development; Chief Science Officer Program; STEM Community Lunchtime Conversations

OdySea Aquarium

    • Education Manager, Internship Coordinator, Conservation Committee Key Member, Field Trip Coordinator; Boy Scout Program Development; Summer Camp & Overnight Program Development, STEM Pro Live, Debris in the Desert, Conservation Expo, Summer Reading Challenge.

Mission, Philosophy, & Values

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide a collaborative and engaging K-12 education that builds students’ skills and self-confidence while inspiring them to develop a lifelong love of learning and actively contribute to making a positive difference in the world.

love to learn pencil signage on wall near walking man

Our Philosophy

We believe that every student has the ability to successfully learn, grow, and excel when supported by caring adults who empower and inspire them. We believe that every student has infinite potential if they can believe in themselves. We believe that if learning isn’t fun, you are doing it wrong.

two person standing on gray tile paving

Our Values

At The Inspiration Academy, we value creativity, critical thinking, and a willingness to try new things as being central to helping students reach their full potential. We hold integrity, kindness, and inclusion as our core values that help us build a community of learners who support and encourage each other. Accountability, respect, and responsibility create a positive learning environment where we work together to help everyone succeed.

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