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The Mary L. Atwood Crystal Apple Award in Education
After gallantly living through a prolonged illness, Mary L. Atwood passed on February 3, 2012. The Mary L. Atwood Education Award was established in late 2012 and is a reflection of her awareness for the importance of education and the humility of compassion.  This award will be given to a teacher who is an outstanding role model and exhibits those traits on a daily basis.
Mary L. Atwood (wife of John and mother of Jenean) was born in 1946 in Youngstown, Ohio.  Living in a small mid-western town, her parents knew the value of education.  The second of four children, Mary had to overcome a number of health issues.  Nevertheless, in 1964 she graduated with high marks from South High School.
Mary was also a lover of music.  She often played piano for her mother in church where she established a love for God and a compassion for people, both of which became her testament in life.  Mary met John H. Atwood (Jackie) her childhood sweetheart, also from Youngstown.  They were married in 1968 and moved to Cleveland, Ohio where she began a career in retail sales and management at May Company,  while John went into the field of education.

Due to female problems, starting a family was difficult but Mary and John were blessed with the birth of their one and only child (Jenean D. Atwood) on Feb. 13, 1971.  Mary decided to take a leave of absence and became a stay-at-home mom for three years during which time she was able to provide Jenean with the basics including a love for books.  Thus, Jenean began school with a love for reading and a thirst for learning.

Mary was also quite proficient in math.  Upon returning to work, she took several college courses in finance and soon thereafter, she moved into the business/customer service office at May Co.  Although she continued to work, Mary always found time to serve and volunteer in every phase of Jenean’s education from room mother and PTA to brownies and girl scouts, and she did it all with a smile.
Mary was also an active member in her community.  As a member of Zion Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Cleveland, she was always involved in numerous church functions.  Through local city council meetings in Maple Heights, Mary was also actively involved in the establishment of block clubs to enhance the community.  Her focus was always on the safety and welfare of adults and children throughout the community.  Mary’s compassion for others guided her on a daily basis.

But somehow, Mary always found time to both invest in and volunteer for those activities that supported education.  It was nothing for her to take a weekend and drive to Jenean’s college campus to support her in numerous educational endeavors.  With her background in finance, Mary was also at the forefront when the family founded Atwood Legacy Enterprises in 1995.   ALE was the umbrella company that launched The Land of Dushkin, a mystical, magical storyland for children.  And thus, the Atwood’s unveiled their first children’s book in 2000.
Due to health issues, Mary retired in 2001 and continued to support family, church and the community.  And although she continued to be actively involved in the family business, she again stepped out into the community as a volunteer.  One of the many activities that gave her a tremendous amount of joy was serving as a volunteer reading mentor at The Intergenerational School.  Located in the city of Cleveland, this charter school is one of the most preeminent educational institutions of its kind.  Mary took great pride in her one-on-one reading sessions with students in the elementary grades.  She continued her volunteer work in the community until she was unable to travel due to ill health.  However, friends and associates continue to speak of her compassion, strength and warm smile and above all, her willingness to make a difference.

Her greatest joy, however, was simply that of wife, mother and servant of God!
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MLA Award Update:

​Presentation of the first Mary L. Atwood Crystal Apple in Education


The 2013 Mary L. Atwood Crystal Apple Award in Education was presented to Mrs. Telissa Teets, an elementary school teacher at The Intergenerational School on May 16, 2013.  The Event was held at The Intergenerational School’s Annual Friends and Volunteers Appreciation Luncheon.  Pictured here: John H. Atwood, Co-founder of Atwood Legacy Enterprises and Telissa Teets, award recipient. Not pictured: Denise Follina, Acting Co-chair on the Advisory Team at ALE.

April 2023 - Carmen Tolbert receives the second Mary L. Atwood Crystal Apple Award in Education.

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