PSJA Alumna and Longtime Education Leader Liza Diaz Inspires a Legacy of Educational Excellence
In the heart of Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA ISD), a remarkable longtime educator and principal, Liza Diaz, stands as a beacon of inspiration. At PSJA North Early College High School, where she currently serves, Diaz is not just a principal; she embodies a legacy deeply rooted in the district's history.
Although she is a proud PSJA Raider donning black and silver on the daily, maroon and white were once her colors as a graduate of PSJA High School in 1985.
While she has dedicated over 30 years to education, growing up, she had a strong desire to follow in the footsteps of her father, renowned journalist Rick Diaz. With her newly earned communication degree from the University of Texas Pan American (UTPA) in 1990, she once dreamed of pursuing a career in journalism. However, life had different plans for her, leading her to the fulfilling path of education and following the career path of her mother.
As a child, she watched her mother dedicate 50 years to PSJA ISD as an educator, with 25 of those years as a principal at Clover Elementary in San Juan. This connection to education and the doors that opened for her in the field led Diaz to embark on a lifelong journey in education.
Diaz has a sister, Laura Diaz-Gongora, who works as an elementary coordinator, along with many cousins and aunts that are either teachers or administrators. This dedication goes all the way back to her grandparents, who taught them to respect individuals no matter where they are from and to serve their community as best as they can.
“What better way to serve the community than through education,” said PSJA North High School Principal Liza Diaz. “I would say that educators build other professions, and we build our future.”
Reflecting on her high school experience, Diaz fondly recalls her involvement in extracurricular activities such as cheerleading, student council, and journalism. These experiences instilled in her a love for school and a passion for learning, which she carries with her to this day.
Over her 32-year career, she has made significant contributions to the PSJA district. Starting as a teacher at Austin Middle School and then as the school's principal, witnessing the construction of the new campus and its impact on the students and staff. Her passion for education inspired her to pursue a Master of Educational of Administration from UTPA in 2009. She currently is at PSJA North Early College High School, where she passionately advocates for student success and fosters a supportive learning environment.
Under her leadership, PSJA North ECHS has earned numerous academic and extracurricular accolades including being ranked among the top high schools in Texas and the Nation by the US News Best High Schools Report. Most recently, the PSJA North Raiders football team made history in football by winning District Co-Champions, Bi-District Champions, Area Champions, and reaching the Regional Quarterfinals. Several PSJA North athletes have committed to play football at the collegiate level with UTRGV’s inaugural football team. Additionally, the Raider Marching Band advanced to the UIL State Marching Band Contest.
“I think being an educator, you must have that passion for children, for students, and, of course, for those that we serve, which are our teachers,” said Diaz. “I have taken that from my mother, my father, but also my aunt who was an educator at PSJA for several years. It is on both sides of my family because I come from a long line of educators.”
As a minority in both race and gender, she acknowledges the importance of representation and the power of setting one's mind to achieve their dreams. She encourages her students to strive for success, work hard, and respect others along the way.
The longtime leader recommends the education field to individuals seeking a career where they can make a difference and stresses that you cannot lead a campus from your office.
“We need to be out and be visible for our students to see, for our staff to see, to make sure that we understand we are here to serve and we're serving our students and we're serving our teachers,” said Diaz. “At the end of the day, we're doing what is best for kids plus supporting our staff.”
PSJA ISD, an open-enrollment school district serving over 30,000 students, welcomes students from anywhere in the Rio Grande Valley. Parents interested in enrolling their child can find more information at www.psjaisd.us.