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Awesome Member of the Month: Mary Solberg

Mary Solberg joined WellBound Fitness in the summer of 2021 after winning a three-month membership at the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary silent auction. She and her late husband Randy enjoyed their three months at WellBound so much that they decided to stay on.

Mary is a South Omaha girl for whom education has been front and center for much of her personal and professional life. She attended Saints Peter and Paul for elementary school then Notre Dame Academy for high school before receiving her bachelor's degree in education at Creighton University. She continued her education at two state universities, earning a Masters of Science in Education at University of Nebraska- Kearney as well as a Masters of Administration from UNO.

Mary had multiple teaching and administrative positions during her career, including time spent in Grand Island in the late 70s and early 80s. While living in Grand Island, Mary had a couple significant events. One was the 1980 Grand Island tornado. She was working part time at a bar and grill in town when the sirens went off. They were able to take cover, but the building collapsed on them as the tornadoes razed a significant portion of the city. She feels fortunate to have survived given that a man in the same building was one of the five that died in Grand Island that night.

Another important event came while Mary taught for the Grand Island School District. At that time, the district mandated that pregnant teachers had to inform the district and resign upon learning of a pregnancy. If they chose to return to teach, they had to reapply with all other applicants, losing the pay and benefits as well as seniority that they had earned prior to their pregnancy. Due to this discriminatory practice Mary was paid 10% less than a male counterpart who had started at the same time. As an active member of the teachers union, Mary agreed to sue the school district for equal pay. Her suit was a success. As a result, Mary was able to keep her position during another pregnancy and didn't lose her seniority. More importantly all future pregnant teachers in the district retained their positions and seniority, including the pay and benefits that they had accrued.

Mary’s fight for equity in the education profession continued when she and Randy moved back to Omaha from Grand Island in 1983, a move that came about because, "Omaha is home."

Mary is proud of the work she has done with the teachers union in Omaha, pushing for the professional development of women as leaders as well as equal pay for females in education where, despite women making up the vast majority of the work force, men dominate the administrative positions that set policy and command the biggest salaries. As Mary puts it, “In professions like teaching and nursing, we are the ones caring for others, but it’s important to care for ourselves and make the profession better for those that come after you.”

After 40 years of teaching, she ended her career at Omaha Public Schools. While others may not have glowing things to say about middle school, Mary enjoyed teaching this age group the most.

These days, Mary is part of the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary, that helps fund and volunteers for a variety of programs in Omaha. In addition to volunteering, she enjoys watching her grandkids, traveling, and reading. Additionally, she has a deep appreciation for Jeopardy! and its late host Alex Trebek.

Mary we thank you so much for being a great WellBound Fitness member and your thoughtfulness to the community!

~The WellBound Team

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