Mary Smith1024_1Mary Smith, founder and former executive director of Horizon Education Centers, passed away on November 26, 2020. Mary founded Horizon in 1978 after noticing a lot of her children’s friends were “latch-key kids,” kids who returned home to an empty house after school. This, combined with a lack of art programs available in North Olmsted, led Mary to take action, creating the Horizon Afterschool Center.

In its early days, Horizon was located out of the North Olmsted Unitarian Church. It offered afterschool classes in theater, gourmet cooking, mime, sewing, nature studies, cross country skiing, rhythmic gymnastics, and art. It also provided free homework help and reading programs, and the instructors varied from college students to housewives, artists to teachers, musicians to cooks, all of whom volunteered their time.

Self-taught, internationally acclaimed artist Stephen Muldoon was a former Horizon afterschool student.

“I would spend hours there after school working with all the materials. The teachers provided guidance and kept me out of trouble. This is what I needed as a young boy with big dreams,” he said.

In 1982, as Horizon continued to grow, it changed its name from the Horizon Afterschool Center to the Horizon Activities Center. The next year Horizon added adult and child care programs. It also received funding from the Ohio Arts Council and was recognized as one of the most outstanding art programs in the state.

Mary Smith retired from Horizon in 1995 and became a life trustee of the organization. Her son, David Smith, a member of the Horizon community since its founding, became its executive director.

What began as a dream for Mary has grown into a bustling, highly rated child care organization with 12 locations providing child care and afterschool programs to children across Lorain and Cuyahoga counties. Horizon is rated high-quality in the state of Ohio for care and education, thanks to the standards Mary set from the beginning. We offer services for children 6 weeks to 12 years of age. 

Mary's legacy will live on under the direction of her son, David Smith, and her faithful Board of Trustees. 

If you’d like to honor Mary’s memory, share your memories about her in the comments below, or you can make a donation to Horizon’s Summer Camp Scholarship Fund in her honor.