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 29th year of providing educational programs, events, and services to nine hilltown communities in northwestern Massachusetts. We will continue to identify the needs of our schools and families, and actively find ways to create and fund programs to assist in those needs.

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Founded by educator and current Executive Director, Susan Samoriski, Ed.D., the Mary Lyon Foundation Inc. was established in 1990 and incorporated on March 8, 1991. It is a community based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, supporting all aspects of quality education in the towns of Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Hawley, Heath, Plainfield, Rowe, and Shelburne.


Mary Lyon
(1797–1849)
8e6762dead1bdfe0b3a7e9bbcf9acc9eBorn 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

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.