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As a teacher, Mary J. Baird would often take inspiration from a poster in her classroom emblazoned with these words. With the legacy scholarship fund she established in 2021, Mary will keep that flame burning brightly for former students of Sylvania’s Timberstone Junior High School.

“I’m excited about the sparkle in kids’ eyes,” she said, reflecting on her teaching experiences. “I taught 7th-grade English for 15 years, and then I was asked to develop a new gifted education program.” At first, Mary split her time between English and gifted ed at McCord Junior High — but when the new Timberstone Junior High was built, she took on gifted ed full time. “Everything began with the idea of creativity,” she said. “It gave the kids an open door — and when they walked through it, they flew from there.”

“Education is not the filling of the pail but the lighting of a fire.”

- William Butler Yeats

Mary also developed closer relationships with her Timberstone students than she was previously able to do. “I had the same kids for three years — 6th through 8th grade — so I knew them and their families.” She also knew of their unspoken hopes  for their future. “There are so many kids that have quiet, private dreams of what they want to do in their lives — but if they  don’t have the finances to take that leap, they can’t.”

After her retirement, Mary pondered for some time what she could do with her estate that would have meaning. “I was the last remaining member of my family,” she explained, “and in the back of my mind, I had those sparkling eyes. There are a lot of sparkling eyes out there who need to fly — what better purpose than to give them a springboard for college?”

With the help of her attorney, who suggested Mary work with Greater Toledo Community Foundation, she established a legacy scholarship fund, designated for former Timberstone students who will attend a four-year college or university. A committee of Timberstone teachers appointed by the school principal will determine each year’s awardees. “I called Jesse Stock at GTCF and he took the reins. It was easy after that,” she noted.

“My parents were so generous with us as kids and education was #1,” Mary said of her choice to fund the futures of others. “My father created a trust for us. Because so much love was funneled my way, I feel it is my responsibility to continue what they did.”

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