"Doing does it."
My name is Mary Lightbody. I have an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a doctorate in science education from Ohio State. For the last 25 years I have been in K-12 and university classrooms in central Ohio teaching science and the gifted in the Columbus, Hilliard, and Westerville schools. For the last 12 years, I have taught future teachers at Otterbein and Ohio State Newark how to teach science to their students in Ohio schools.
I started out as a country girl – grew up in Pepper Pike, east of Cleveland when there were fewer houses and far more open land than are there now, and graduated from Orange High School. My Dad was a Republican and businessman. My Mom, now 99 years old, is a Democrat, an educator and author, and former school board member. I am the 6th of 7 children, and we remain close although we are scattered from Maine to Alaska. Our Family Motto is “Doing does it.”; which really meant that we each developed a work ethic that has stayed with us.
I married a guy from Tiffin, OH whom I met at college. While Rick was enrolled in a PhD program in environmental engineering at MIT he learned during a routine physical that his kidneys were failing, and that he would be on dialysis within the next 18 months. It was the week before Christmas, and I was two months pregnant with our second child. The news was devastating, but a diagnosis of a serious medical issue was not unique to us; I am sure many of you either have or know someone close to you who faces a medical challenge.
We addressed the issue by arranging to do Rick’s hemodialysis treatments at home, which meant our three children grew up with their father hooked to a dialysis machine in the family room three nights a week. We never let the machines dictate our lives, but took them with us on vacation, doing dialysis runs at our parents’ homes and even at a family cabin in Canada where there was neither running water nor electricity. Rick eventually got a kidney transplant but after 16 years his immune system was no longer able to defend him from infections, and after a serious but brief illness and hospitalization in the fall of 2009 he came home, and died a few days later in his sleep.
I was absolutely not prepared for his death. But when I emerged from the fog, I realized that we only get one chance at life. Although I have been in public service through my teaching for years, I wanted to find a way to move into a larger public service opportunity. I continue to teach full time at Ohio State Newark, but I have taken on new roles as a member of the Westerville Public Library Board of Trustees, as a deacon at First Congregational church in Columbus and now as a candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives. That same “Doing does it.” spirit I learned from my family helped me all the years we managed Rick’s medical regimes, our family, and our work, and is surely going to help me now as I seek to move into a leadership position to represent you, and to make a difference in our community and state.
Leadership in Ohio
I have leadership experience with the state and national science teachers’ professional associations, the Westerville Public Library as a member of the board of Trustees, and the First Congregational Church in Columbus as a deacon. Every year I taught in public schools I was a member of the teachers’ union, and I was an active volunteer in the schools my children attended. For example, I was very active with the Westerville North Academic Boosters for many years. I was elected as the president of the student government in college and as captain of my field hockey teams in high school and college.
I have a varied background, including an undergraduate major from Harvard in Asian Studies (specializing in China and Chinese); international experience in Thailand (1969-70), China (June 1990), and Indonesia (July 2008); 25 years in public education (including eight years with the Columbus City Schools and ten at Ohio State); and a lifetime of living on small farms with horses. I grew up in Pepper Pike, Ohio, and graduated from Orange High School. My late husband, Richard Noss, grew up in Ohio (Tiffin), went to Harvard, and had a doctorate from MIT in environmental engineering. We moved from Massachusetts to our current location in Plain Township in 1988 so our children could grow up knowing their grandparents, all 4 of whom still lived in our childhood homes. Our children, now grown and living out of state, all graduated from Westerville North High School as National Merit Finalists; all three majored in a science in college. My two granddaughters are delightful and treasured.
My Early Adult Years
I stayed home with my children for ten years while my husband was starting his career as a university professor. We carried three mortgages to pay for our first home, a small house in a small town near Amherst, Massachusetts. I learned how to cook dinner for 35, to make bread, to sew, and to knit. In the lean years that followed our move, I made all the children’s clothes, kept a large garden, and “put food by” to reduce on the grocery bill. I think we could not survive on one salary these days, as many others in our community know all too well.
Send me to the State House to fight for a living wage and fair policies that support working families.
Send me to the State House to put all these leadership experiences to good use.