Legendary Teacher Educator Returns to Pay It Forward: Anne Richardson Gayles-Felton (M.A. ’47) establishes a new scholarship at TC

Anne Richardson Gayles-Felton (M.A. '47), Professor Emerita at Flordia A&M University, where she taught for 45 years, with TC President Susan Fuhrman and student Angel Acosta, the inaugural recipient of the Gayles-Felton Scholarship.

Ask 93-year-old Anne Richardson Gayles-Felton (M.A. ’47) why she is endowing a $250,000 scholarship at Teachers College and she’ll likely start out with the short answer.

“I was born into a family of educators,” says Gayles-Felton, Professor Emerita at Florida A&M University (FAMU), and one of a small group of lifetime honorees in the pantheon of the National Association of Teacher Educators (ATE).

Anne Richardson Gayles-Felton (M.A. ’47) has endowed a $250,000 scholarship at Teachers College.
Gayles-Felton has endowed a $250,000 scholarship at Teachers College. A member of TC's Grace Dodge Society, she joins a select group of donors who have not only planned for the College in their wills, but also made outright gifts to create scholarships that will benefit students right now. the first beneficiary of Gayles-Felton's generosity is Curriculum & Teaching doctoral student Angel Acosta.

But for a more visceral understanding of what motivates Gayles-Felton, the best source may be a tiny footnote in an obscure history titled What a Woman Ought to Be and Do: Black Professional Women Workers During the Jim Crow Era, by Stephanie J. Shaw (University of Chicago Press, 1996). Referring to an 1898 article in the Atlanta University Bulletin titled “The Negro Girl in the Rural District,” the author writes:   

“Mrs. Anna (Wade) Richardson, who graduated from Atlanta University in 1885 and in 1898, was a school principal in Marshallville, Georgia. The article reported that when Richardson arrived in Marshallville, ‘whiskey dens’ were on almost every corner, none of the children could read, and all their homes were disorderly.  By her influence the town had been voted dry, almost all the children could read and write, many of her former students were now teachers, and many of the community people now owned their homes and had improved them. Also, all of Richardson’s teachers professed to be Christians.”

Anna Wade Richardson was Gayles-Felton’s grandmother, and though they never met, she profoundly shaped Gayles-Felton’s life through her school and her teaching.

“My grandma’s parents had been slaves, though they were free by the time she was born,” recalls Gayles-Felton, a small, energetic woman with an earnest manner. “She and my grandpa met at Atlanta University, and then, with the help of the American Missionary Association, she established a Congregationalist boarding school [the Lamson-Richardson School] in her home town, Marshallville, in 1886. She wanted each black child in her community to have a school – that’s why she built one. After she died, my grandfather took it over, and then my aunt. It survived for 113 years before it became part of the Macon County public school system. I did my own first teaching there.”

Support Student Scholarship

The biggest priority of TC’s Campaign, Where the Future Comes First, is to support current and future students. You can:

  • Pledge $50,000 to create a new endowed scholarship in your own name or someone else’s.
  • Contribute to an existing tribute or program fund scholarship
  • Support a TC Fund Scholar or designate your TC Fund gift to financial aid.

Contact Linda Colquhoun at 212 678-3679.

In fact, Gayles-Felton more or less grew up in that school because, as a little girl, she went to live with her aunt after her own mother died. As she tells it, at a time when most of the black children around her were growing up without much education, in homes that lacked electricity, telephones and indoor plumbing, she was benefiting from all of those things. She was also learning to take a broader perspective on society around her.

“My grandfather was an educated politician – a revenue collector for the government – so he was in a position to help many whites get jobs,” she says. “He protected us from a lot of the prejudice I might have otherwise encountered. So I was accustomed to integrating before we integrated in the South. I never hated white people. I was around those trying to help us. So I learned that people are people, and I still have that philosophy today. And I feel sorry for those who haven’t learned to overcome their prejudices.” 

In the summers, Gayles-Felton accompanied her aunt to New York City, where the latter took courses at Teachers College – “as many Southern blacks of that era did,” Gayles-Felton notes, because they were denied admission by schools of education in their home states. Though Gayles-Felton herself was just a teenager, the experience clearly stuck. A decade later – after earning her undergraduate degree at Georgia’s Fort Valley State College, studying sociology for a year at Fisk University in Nashville and teaching social studies for five years in various Georgia high schools – she enrolled at TC, a decision that would change her career.

“[Dewey’s] philosophy of learning by doing made so much sense to me, because TC was not only teaching the theory, but teaching us through the theory. People were saying, ‘What do you need coming from the South? How can I help?’ And they really helped me.”

Thanks to three professors – Florence Stratemyer, George Counts and Margaret Lindsay – Gayles-Felton decided to switch her focus from teaching high school students to teaching teachers. 

“I was so stimulated by them that I not only wanted to be a good teacher but an outstanding teacher of teachers,” she recalls. “Stratemyer, in particular, taught us to be an active participant in teacher professional organizations – to help shape their guidelines and apply them to our own teaching. I started going to meetings to do more than just have a good time. I really got involved in the decision-making.”

More broadly, she was inspired by the ideas of TC’s great education philosopher, John Dewey.

“I didn’t study with him, but they used his books like mad,” she recalls. “His philosophy of learning by doing made so much sense to me, because TC was not only teaching the theory, but teaching us through the theory.  People were saying, ‘What do you need coming from the South? How can I help?’ And they really helped me.”  

“The biggest challenge facing our education system now is how to produce relevant learning experiences for the students of today, who are so different than those of yesterday. Are you really getting to the core of what life is about for them?”

Gayles-Felton, who subsequently earned an Ed.D. at Indiana University, went on to do much the same for students at FAMU, a public, historically black university in Tallahassee. During her nearly 50 years there, she served variously as Undergraduate and Graduate Professor of Secondary Education and Foundations, College Supervisor of Interns, Director of Student Teaching, Curriculum Coordinator, and Head of the Department of Secondary Education and Foundations.

In 2002, with Marian Smith and William Castine, she coauthored the book The History of the College of Education-Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University: 1887-2000, the proceeds of which have been used to create and support scholarships in FAMU’s College of Education.

Gayles-Felton retired in 2003, but she’s kept pretty busy. She still goes to professional meetings and stays involved in the activities of selected professional organizations.  She continues to receive honors and awards:  In 2006, she was inducted into the FAMU College of Education’s Gallery of Distinction. In 2007, she received the meritorious achievement award from FAMU itself, the highest honor the institution bestows. She has also received the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Fort Valley State University; was inducted as a Distinguished Member of the National Association of Teacher Educators; and, in 2015, received TC’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

“I learned that people are people, and I still have that philosophy today. And I feel sorry for those who haven’t learned to overcome their prejudices.”

She’s active in her retirement community, Westminster Oaks, where she has financed in-service education programs for residents, and where, not long ago, she donated the original bell from the Lamson-Richardson School. She has remained active in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Alpha Kappa Mu, Pi Delta Kappa, Pi Gamma Mu, Pi Lambda Theta, and Kappa Delta Pi International. And recently she paid a visit to Teachers College to present the check to TC President Susan Fuhrman for the new Anne Richardson Gayles-Felton Scholarship. It’s the seventh scholarship/educational fund Gayles-Felton has created, adding TC to a list of institutions that includes or will include Indiana University, Florida A & M University, Fort Valley State University, Talladega College (another historically black institution), The Association of Teacher Educators, Delta Sigma Theta and Westminster Oaks Retirement Home.

At TC, Gayles-Felton, who is a member of the College’s Grace Dodge Society, now joins a select group of donors who have not only planned for the College in their wills but also made outright gifts to create scholarships that will benefit students right now. The first beneficiary of Gayles-Felton’s generosity is Angel Acosta, a doctoral student in TC’s Department of Curriculum & Teaching (see accompanying story).

“Some people think I’m nuts giving away all this money, but I want to do it, and I enjoy it, because my grandma had the spirit of helping those who needed help,” she says. “That’s what my grandma and my whole family are all about.” – Joe Levine

 

 

Support Student Scholarship

The biggest priority of TC’s Campaign, Where the Future Comes First, is to support current and future students. You can:

  • Pledge $50,000 to create a new endowed scholarship in your own name or someone else’s.
  • Contribute to an existing tribute or program fund scholarship
  • Support a TC Fund Scholar or designate your TC Fund gift to financial aid.

Contact Linda Colquhoun at 212 678-3679.

 

Published Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016

Legendary Teacher Educator Returns to Pay It Forward: Anne Richardson Gayles-Felton (M.A. ’47) establishes a new scholarship at TC

Anne Richardson Gayles-Felton (M.A. '47), Professor Emerita at Flordia A&M University, where she taught for 45 years, with TC President Susan Fuhrman and student Angel Acosta, the inaugural recipient of the Gayles-Felton Scholarship.

Ask 93-year-old Anne Richardson Gayles-Felton (M.A. ’47) why she is endowing a $250,000 scholarship at Teachers College and she’ll likely start out with the short answer.

“I was born into a family of educators,” says Gayles-Felton, Professor Emerita at Florida A&M University (FAMU), and one of a small group of lifetime honorees in the pantheon of the National Association of Teacher Educators (ATE).

Anne Richardson Gayles-Felton (M.A. ’47) has endowed a $250,000 scholarship at Teachers College.
Gayles-Felton has endowed a $250,000 scholarship at Teachers College. A member of TC's Grace Dodge Society, she joins a select group of donors who have not only planned for the College in their wills, but also made outright gifts to create scholarships that will benefit students right now. the first beneficiary of Gayles-Felton's generosity is Curriculum & Teaching doctoral student Angel Acosta.

But for a more visceral understanding of what motivates Gayles-Felton, the best source may be a tiny footnote in an obscure history titled What a Woman Ought to Be and Do: Black Professional Women Workers During the Jim Crow Era, by Stephanie J. Shaw (University of Chicago Press, 1996). Referring to an 1898 article in the Atlanta University Bulletin titled “The Negro Girl in the Rural District,” the author writes:   

“Mrs. Anna (Wade) Richardson, who graduated from Atlanta University in 1885 and in 1898, was a school principal in Marshallville, Georgia. The article reported that when Richardson arrived in Marshallville, ‘whiskey dens’ were on almost every corner, none of the children could read, and all their homes were disorderly.  By her influence the town had been voted dry, almost all the children could read and write, many of her former students were now teachers, and many of the community people now owned their homes and had improved them. Also, all of Richardson’s teachers professed to be Christians.”

Anna Wade Richardson was Gayles-Felton’s grandmother, and though they never met, she profoundly shaped Gayles-Felton’s life through her school and her teaching.

“My grandma’s parents had been slaves, though they were free by the time she was born,” recalls Gayles-Felton, a small, energetic woman with an earnest manner. “She and my grandpa met at Atlanta University, and then, with the help of the American Missionary Association, she established a Congregationalist boarding school [the Lamson-Richardson School] in her home town, Marshallville, in 1886. She wanted each black child in her community to have a school – that’s why she built one. After she died, my grandfather took it over, and then my aunt. It survived for 113 years before it became part of the Macon County public school system. I did my own first teaching there.”

Support Student Scholarship

The biggest priority of TC’s Campaign, Where the Future Comes First, is to support current and future students. You can:

  • Pledge $50,000 to create a new endowed scholarship in your own name or someone else’s.
  • Contribute to an existing tribute or program fund scholarship
  • Support a TC Fund Scholar or designate your TC Fund gift to financial aid.

Contact Linda Colquhoun at 212 678-3679.

In fact, Gayles-Felton more or less grew up in that school because, as a little girl, she went to live with her aunt after her own mother died. As she tells it, at a time when most of the black children around her were growing up without much education, in homes that lacked electricity, telephones and indoor plumbing, she was benefiting from all of those things. She was also learning to take a broader perspective on society around her.

“My grandfather was an educated politician – a revenue collector for the government – so he was in a position to help many whites get jobs,” she says. “He protected us from a lot of the prejudice I might have otherwise encountered. So I was accustomed to integrating before we integrated in the South. I never hated white people. I was around those trying to help us. So I learned that people are people, and I still have that philosophy today. And I feel sorry for those who haven’t learned to overcome their prejudices.” 

In the summers, Gayles-Felton accompanied her aunt to New York City, where the latter took courses at Teachers College – “as many Southern blacks of that era did,” Gayles-Felton notes, because they were denied admission by schools of education in their home states. Though Gayles-Felton herself was just a teenager, the experience clearly stuck. A decade later – after earning her undergraduate degree at Georgia’s Fort Valley State College, studying sociology for a year at Fisk University in Nashville and teaching social studies for five years in various Georgia high schools – she enrolled at TC, a decision that would change her career.

“[Dewey’s] philosophy of learning by doing made so much sense to me, because TC was not only teaching the theory, but teaching us through the theory. People were saying, ‘What do you need coming from the South? How can I help?’ And they really helped me.”

Thanks to three professors – Florence Stratemyer, George Counts and Margaret Lindsay – Gayles-Felton decided to switch her focus from teaching high school students to teaching teachers. 

“I was so stimulated by them that I not only wanted to be a good teacher but an outstanding teacher of teachers,” she recalls. “Stratemyer, in particular, taught us to be an active participant in teacher professional organizations – to help shape their guidelines and apply them to our own teaching. I started going to meetings to do more than just have a good time. I really got involved in the decision-making.”

More broadly, she was inspired by the ideas of TC’s great education philosopher, John Dewey.

“I didn’t study with him, but they used his books like mad,” she recalls. “His philosophy of learning by doing made so much sense to me, because TC was not only teaching the theory, but teaching us through the theory.  People were saying, ‘What do you need coming from the South? How can I help?’ And they really helped me.”  

“The biggest challenge facing our education system now is how to produce relevant learning experiences for the students of today, who are so different than those of yesterday. Are you really getting to the core of what life is about for them?”

Gayles-Felton, who subsequently earned an Ed.D. at Indiana University, went on to do much the same for students at FAMU, a public, historically black university in Tallahassee. During her nearly 50 years there, she served variously as Undergraduate and Graduate Professor of Secondary Education and Foundations, College Supervisor of Interns, Director of Student Teaching, Curriculum Coordinator, and Head of the Department of Secondary Education and Foundations.

In 2002, with Marian Smith and William Castine, she coauthored the book The History of the College of Education-Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University: 1887-2000, the proceeds of which have been used to create and support scholarships in FAMU’s College of Education.

Gayles-Felton retired in 2003, but she’s kept pretty busy. She still goes to professional meetings and stays involved in the activities of selected professional organizations.  She continues to receive honors and awards:  In 2006, she was inducted into the FAMU College of Education’s Gallery of Distinction. In 2007, she received the meritorious achievement award from FAMU itself, the highest honor the institution bestows. She has also received the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Fort Valley State University; was inducted as a Distinguished Member of the National Association of Teacher Educators; and, in 2015, received TC’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

“I learned that people are people, and I still have that philosophy today. And I feel sorry for those who haven’t learned to overcome their prejudices.”

She’s active in her retirement community, Westminster Oaks, where she has financed in-service education programs for residents, and where, not long ago, she donated the original bell from the Lamson-Richardson School. She has remained active in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Alpha Kappa Mu, Pi Delta Kappa, Pi Gamma Mu, Pi Lambda Theta, and Kappa Delta Pi International. And recently she paid a visit to Teachers College to present the check to TC President Susan Fuhrman for the new Anne Richardson Gayles-Felton Scholarship. It’s the seventh scholarship/educational fund Gayles-Felton has created, adding TC to a list of institutions that includes or will include Indiana University, Florida A & M University, Fort Valley State University, Talladega College (another historically black institution), The Association of Teacher Educators, Delta Sigma Theta and Westminster Oaks Retirement Home.

At TC, Gayles-Felton, who is a member of the College’s Grace Dodge Society, now joins a select group of donors who have not only planned for the College in their wills but also made outright gifts to create scholarships that will benefit students right now. The first beneficiary of Gayles-Felton’s generosity is Angel Acosta, a doctoral student in TC’s Department of Curriculum & Teaching (see accompanying story).

“Some people think I’m nuts giving away all this money, but I want to do it, and I enjoy it, because my grandma had the spirit of helping those who needed help,” she says. “That’s what my grandma and my whole family are all about.” – Joe Levine

 

 

Support Student Scholarship

The biggest priority of TC’s Campaign, Where the Future Comes First, is to support current and future students. You can:

  • Pledge $50,000 to create a new endowed scholarship in your own name or someone else’s.
  • Contribute to an existing tribute or program fund scholarship
  • Support a TC Fund Scholar or designate your TC Fund gift to financial aid.

Contact Linda Colquhoun at 212 678-3679.

 

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