By Luana M. Graves Sellars

Photo Credit: Mike Ritterbeck

The future destiny of the child is always the work of the mother.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

Born into the Gullah culture on Hilton Head during a time “when life was beautiful,” Mary Green was raised to believe that “everyone was your mother. As children, we knew that any adult in the community could discipline us if we did something wrong, just like our parents could. People were wonderful to each other on the island, we always took care of each other.”

The values that Mary Green learned as a child define her, coupled with her sense of what it means to be a member of a community. She has internalized the idea that we are all responsible for each other and that loving care is something we should do naturally. She demonstrated this in her private life, as well as in her professional life. She chose a career that allowed her to provide loving care to others as a way of serving the needs of her community. She did this by establishing and running one of the first licensed childcare centers on the island from her house. This also allowed her to help shape young lives, by teaching them to value learning. 

“I always believed in teaching my children about the value and importance of education, and that we shouldn’t take life for granted,” she said.

As a result of that belief and her desire to make a positive difference in her community, in 1968, she started a fully licensed daycare called Mary’s Christian Day School.  She began with only six children between the ages of 2 and 5 years old and eventually grew to accommodate 18 children. Through her school, she taught the children the importance of sharing, caring for each other and developing healthy eating habits. In addition, she taught and reinforced Christian values. Using creative lessons and songs Mary Green was able to teach and engage the children while providing a safe and loving environment for them. 

Mary’s love for children and their development has been unrelenting, and she was instrumental in opening the Mount Calvary Achievement School. In 1992, she merged her own school with Mt. Calvary, where she continued to teach and nurture island children for years. 

Mary spent her life loving and caring for other people’s children, while she raised five children of her own. As a mother, Mary raised her children with strong values and the desire to be of service. Those values were ingrained into each of her children, and they have also chosen service-oriented careers: school counselor, early childhood educator, a nurse, a reverend, and two Army Colonel’s. 

Mary Green has been married to William Green for over 57 years, and they have nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. All of them have learned from her the value of living a good life and how to treat others with respect.  Her legacy is love, service, dignity, and strength. These are core life lessons from which we can all learn. 

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