Gray, Wil Lou | South Carolina Public Radio


“G” is for Gray, Wil Lou [1883-1984]. Educator, public servant. Gray was a native of Laurens where members of her family were influential civic leaders, devoted Methodists, and contributors to the economic development of the town. After graduating from Columbia College in 1903, she accepted a teaching position in a one-room schoolhouse in Greenwood County. This experience opened her eyes to the poverty, illiteracy, and public indifference to the problems of the South, and inspired her to pursue graduate work at Vanderbilt and Columbia Universities. In 1915, Gray opened an adult night school in Laurens County. From this humble beginning, she emerged as a leader in adult education. From 1921 to 1946, she served as the South Carolina Supervisor of Adult Education. Wil Lou Gray experimented with night schools, summertime lay-by schools, and adult-oriented educational camps called “opportunity schools” for which she became renowned.