“My mom, Mary Lynne Franks Mount was a creative teacher who recognized that reading with enthusiasm is a key that unlocks the doors to learning—to be able to write well; to do math; to explore the worlds of science, history, and beyond,” explains Mary Lynne’s daughter, Ingrid Benson.

“Her approach was simple: finding books that inspire reading, in subjects that captivate a child. That sounds easy, but it takes time and patience. It takes dedication. And, of course, skill.

“I attended one school in which she taught, so I got to see how she worked. She had a knack for zeroing in on the kids that needed help, then meeting them on their level.

“And she brought a you-can-do-it spirit to each child she encountered. She never doubted a student’s ability. Every one was special to her. I think ‘special’ was my mom’s favorite word.

“She just lit up around little kids. She got parents involved. When we returned to New Jersey after moving to the Midwest, her former students would recognize her and enthusiastically remember their experiences in her classroom.

“We lost my mom too soon, but her spirit is in our hearts. Through the Community Foundation, we started The Mary Lynne Mount Reading Fund to help teachers help students read and succeed.

“We knew that The Community Foundation is experienced in making grants to the early childhood literacy programs and can support family and friends who give together. To that end, we established a Giving Circle around our fund, so friends and family can pool their contributions to make a significant impact in childhood literacy.

“As grant advisers, our current focus is on expert tutoring for kids whose families can’t afford such help. Often these kids haven’t received the attention they need in school. It’s unfortunate, but it’s sometimes easy for schools just to pass kids along.

“My mom was the antidote to that. And now she is our model for the kind of mentors we’ll seek. Throughout her life, she enabled children to live up to their potential, and that’s what our fund is going to do, one child at a time.”