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A History in
Quality Childcare

Horizon Education Centers originated from the vision of Mary Smith, a mother of four in suburban North Olmsted, Ohio. Concerned by the number of "latch-key kids" returning to empty homes after school, Mary established Horizon Afterschool Center in 1978. Housed in the historic North Olmsted Unitarian Church, the program offered affordable afterschool classes in various subjects, including theater, cooking, sewing, nature studies, and art. Instructors, including college students, artists, and teachers, volunteered their expertise.

Horizon Through the Years

Discovering the Story of Horizon Education Centers: A Journey Through its Past, Present, and What Lies Ahead!


In 1979, Horizon expanded to the third floor of the now-demolished Middle School Annex on Butternut Ridge Road. There, they created a successful mime act called "La Machine," touring North Olmsted and neighboring areas to raise awareness. The students also staged fundraising shows at "The Hot Dog Dinner Theater" and "The Great Put-On" in collaboration with North Olmsted's community organizations.


In 1982, Chestnut School became a suitable location for the rapidly expanding afterschool center, marking a significant turning point. Horizon faced its initial major challenge, needing to raise $25,000 for school utilities before moving in. The formation of "The Rainbow Connection," a coalition of community organizations, proved pivotal in raising the required funds. Generous contributions from entities like the North Olmsted Soccer Organization facilitated the move to Chestnut School, leading to the official renaming of the center as "Horizon Activities Center."


In 1989, Horizon led a joint effort with other community organizations like Kiwanis and the City of North Olmsted, to provide an Early Intervention Center for special needs children. A house on Butternut Ridge Road was renovated and an enclosed pavilion with full-service restrooms was added to the property. It was renovated by volunteers from the community. This house exists today and serves North Olmsted as a food pantry. 


In 1995, Mary Smith retired and became a Life Trustee, and David Smith — her son was appointed executive director. His first actions as executive director were to reform the board and have it work in subcommittees and further the professionalism of the organization.


In 1996, Horizon Activities Center was approached by Lorain City Schools to put a successful afterschool and child care program, like Horizon, in Lorain. Garfield School in central Lorain was recently closed by the district and became the home of Horizon’s first expansion.


In 2001, the North Olmsted Center was moved to the new state-of-the-art facility on David Drive. Horizon quickly became a major provider of child care, preschool, and afterschool in Western Cuyahoga and the cities of Lorain and Elyria.


In 2012, the organization officially became known as Horizon Education Centers as it moved toward providing children with education-based programs.


In 2013, as part of its goal to expand into the Cleveland markets, Horizon partnered with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District for afterschool programs.


In 2015, Horizon started the center expansion into Cleveland with the build of the Market Square Center followed by the Old Brooklyn Center the next year. 


During Covid, Horizon aquired 2 Family Life Center Locations in Lakewood and Berea offering full-day care for children 6 weeks to 12 years of age. This was the start of infant programming at Horizon which then expanded to the North Olmsted and Cascade Centers.


In July 2021, Horizon's new administration building was dedicated to its founder, Mary Smith, who passed away in November 2020. The building dedication took place on Thursday, July 29th, which was Mary's Birthday. The event was attended by the Smith family and friends, Senator Nickie Antonio, North Olmsted Mayor, Kevin Kennedy, Horizon's Board President, Tom Herbster, and Pastor Terrance Bivins.

The Future of Horizon

Horizon continues to be an advocate in early childhood issues and aspires to increase its already prominent advocacy in the Ohio region and statehouse. Horizon strives to become the premier afterschool, preschool and child care organization in Ohio, and the first choice for families in need of local care.