Crossroads News

Mary Hartzell, Pioneering Educator, Passes Away

Community member supported Crossroads as an alumni parent and grandparent.
Mary Hartzell, a member of the Crossroads community for more than 30 years and a pioneer in early childhood education, passed away on Oct. 29. Mary’s children (Evan ’87, Jules ’89 and Lea ’95) graduated from Crossroads, as did her grandson Ysidro ’16. Another grandson, Aristotle, is currently a junior at Crossroads.
Mary was the full-time director of First Presbyterian Nursery School in Santa Monica for more than 30 years, retiring in 2014. She brought the Reggio Emilia approach of teaching and learning to her school and also taught and recorded parenting classes to revolutionize how parents interact with their children.
She and child psychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel co-wrote “Parenting from the Inside Out,” a book that explores the extent to which childhood experiences shape how people approach parenting.
Mary maintained a close friendship with Joanie Martin, who served as the longtime director of the Elementary School at Crossroads.
“Mary was a force,” says Joanie, who recalls her friend’s skills as an educator, writer, potter, gardener, cook and dancer. “We saw our children go through Crossroads together. And Mary’s school was the educational beginning for her grandchildren, my grandchildren and scores of Crossroads students.”
Mary championed an “educational foundation that could inspire and serve as a reference point for what quality education could look like in a community,” Joanie says.