History

Take care of your reading, writing and singing.

These words of wisdom were spoken by Mary Lyon, a 19th-century pioneer in women’s education and advocate for opportunity and quality education for all. The Mary Lyon Foundation is inspired by and takes its name from this renowned educator.

It is with great pride that the foundation recently celebrated its 30th year of providing invaluable resources to students, families, and educators in the nine hilltown communities of northwestern Massachusetts. As the Foundation embarks on another thirty years of service to our community, our mission is at the heart of all that we do to support our community.

Mission Statement: We promote student success by mobilizing community investment in services and programs that create positive educational outcomes.

Vision Statement: We prepare students to be ready to learn; to succeed academically, socially and emotionally; and to thrive in the wider world.

Founded by educator and retired Executive Director, Susan Samoriski, Ed.D., the Mary Lyon Foundation Inc. was established in 1990 and incorporated on March 8, 1991.

Succeeding Sue Samoriski as Founding Executive Director, Kristen Tillona-Baker, 26-year educator and administrator joined the Foundation in January of 2021 as the new Executive Director.

Two women are standing next to each other and smiling broadly. On the left a white woman has silver hair and a black top and on the right a white woman had shoulder length blonde hair and is wearing a bright pink jacket with a patterned shirt beneath it.
Photo: Founder Sue Samoriski (left) and Executive Director Kristen Tillona Baker (right). Photo credit: Ben Tillona

Kristen, in partnership with the Board of Trustees of the Mary Lyon Foundation, will launch an unprecedented Comprehensive Campaign in the late fall of 2021.  The Foundation will call our community to action to support the pressing needs of our community in West County.

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Mary Lyon
(1797–1849)
Born on a small farm in Buckland, Massachusetts, and possessed of a prodigious mind from an early age, Mary Lyon was supported by her family and community in her quest for knowledge. By age seventeen she was a teacher herself, and soon after that a teacher of teachers.

While still in her twenties she founded a school in Buckland that rapidly drew perhaps as many as one hundred girls from the surrounding hilltowns. Drawing strength from the hills near Buckland, she fought for and achieved the principle of permanence for an institution of higher learning for women. She established Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (later Mount Holyoke College) in South Hadley, Massachusetts in 1837, creating the first institution of higher learning for women. Many of her pupils became teachers in the one-room schoolhouses of New England, pioneer teachers of the westward expansion or missionaries who traveled as far away as Hawaii and Persia.

Learn more about Mary Lyon:
Mount Holyoke College’s Mary Lyon Homepage
Documentary of Mary Lyon’s life

Please consider including the Mary Lyon Foundation in your estate plans. Contact us here.
Volunteering is one way to make an impact! Learn more here.

Banner image description: Mohawk Trail Regional School students at the Annapolis Music Festival Trip, led by Scott Halligan, partially funded by a Mary Lyon Foundation Mini-Grant.