Each month Legacy International will feature an education focused blog post from Mary Riser, Legacy’s education consultant and Advisory Board member, focusing on a variety of education topics and Legacy’s LivingSideBySide programs. 

Mary Riser has worked in Virginia independent schools for 30 years, most recently as Head of School at James River Day School, a K-8 day co-ed day school in Lynchburg, Virginia, where she served as Head for ten years. Mary received her B.A. in English and Philosophy from Georgetown University and her M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Oregon.  Prior to working at James River, Mary was the Middle School Director and an English teacher at St. Anne’s-Belfield School in Charlottesville for fifteen years, and an English teacher and English Department Chair at the Blue Ridge School for Boys for five years. Between undergraduate school and graduate school, she worked as a legislative aide for the Honorable Pat Williams, the Congressman from Western Montana.

When asked what motivates her, Mary said, “I am passionate about learning. I believe that education should be designed to keep the learner at the center, and that the purpose of education is to cherish and challenge all learners to find their purpose and to thrive.”

Mary and her husband, George, live in Covesville, Virginia and have two adult children.

Read the first two installments of Mary’s blog: 

“Two years ago, while I was Head of School at James River Day School, I paid a visit to a Montessori school out in Bedford County, Virginia. While I was visiting the school, I learned about an international non-profit organization that provides many educational and leadership trainings globally, including one of its key programs called LivingSideBySide®. I was intrigued to learn about their successful pilot program in Kyrgyzstan, an area struggling with interethnic tension. As I learned more about the program, I was struck by how appropriate it would be for American teachers and students. It trains teachers in communication, dialogue, self-awareness, and community engagement skills; the teachers then train their students. The program builds capacity in the entire school community!”

“A friend recently sent me a link to an article that suggested we should stop assigning some of the works of literature traditionally assigned to high school students in English class and replace “classic” titles with more contemporary ones that would be more relevant to today’s youth.”