History of Charlie A. Gray

History is a record of man’s accomplishments, the things he has done, where he has been, and why he has succeeded or failed. 

Charlie A. Gray School was established in September of 1956. The school was named in honor of Miss Charlie A. Gray, one of Moultrie’s outstanding citizens. She was born and reared in Colquitt County. Miss Gray received a degree in education from Morris Brown College in Atlanta. She was an ardent second grade teacher in the Colquitt County School System, a devoted church worker, and a community leader until her death in 1947. This inspired the citizens of Moultrie and Colquitt County to name this school in the memory of Miss Gray.

The complex at Gray housed grades one through six the first years. A few years later, two annexes were added on the west end of the campus and included the seventh grade to the Gray family. During that year, Charlie A. Gray School adopted as its school colors: red and white. The school mascot was the panther.

The person that shouldered the responsibilities of administrating Gray School through its first years of community service was Mrs. F. S. McHenry. Mrs. McHenry had fourty teachers on her staff, and the school was well-equipped. However, there was room for improvement. The P.T.A. recognized the Teacher of the Year for the first time. Televisions were installed in every classroom to view educational programs. Each teacher had access to overhead projectors, filmstrip projectors, 16 MM film projectors, and stands.

In the year, 1961, Charlie A. Gray had its own visiting teacher, Mrs. Alice Isabell. In 1968, teachers working harmoniously together were able to raise enough funds to install an intercom system. At a later date, the P.T.A. took the responsibility of paying the balance. Gray was once again blessed during the 1968-1969 school year—in that it received a fulltime Guidance Counselor: Mrs. Patricia Merritt, the only elementary school counselor in the county. Gray also had a very good Physical Education program under the leadership of Mr. Samuel Stewart.

The beginning of the school term of 1970-1971, Charlie A. Gray inherited a new principal, Mr. James Willis. A native of Cairo, Georgia, Mr. Willis had 16 years of experience as an educator before coming to Gray. Under the able leadership of Mr. Willis, Gray took on a new outlook and many improvements and additions were made. Faculty members increased from 40 to 46. Changes in curriculum took place with the addition of Title I Reading and Title I Mathematics, Educable Mentally Retarded classes, Gifted Mathematics, individualized reading program, Multi-Handicapped classes, and an emotionally disturbed center.

From September 1956 to August 1971, the entire student body was black with the exception of one kindergarten student. The school was integrated in August 1971. In August 1972, grades one through five were eliminated, which left kindergarten, grades six and seven, and SMR.

In 1973, Charlie A. Gray received a facelift. The campus was landscaped and asphalt was put around the campus by the P.T.A.

Prior to 1975 and 1976 school terms, Gray had a limited number of student activities, such as 4-H Club, Spelling Bee, Student Government, Career Week, and Girl Scouts. In 1972, the P.T.A. added the Magazine Sale. Also, in the same year and under the directorship of Mr. Milton Tyus, Gray’s first band was organized.

As the years passed, evidence of growth could be seen at Gray. In 1976, the student government decided to select new school colors and mascot. A variety of activities were added to meet the needs and interests of the students. The student government election was held March 12, 1976. The students chose as their school colors, black and gold, and the Bulldog as the school mascot. A list of new activities were posted for students to select the one of their interest, such as art, checkers, woodwork, science, honor society, vogue, esquire, debating, outdoors, and social science clubs. In addition to having new school colors, a new school mascot, and new activities, Mr. Albert Taylor, sixth and seventh grade band director, wrote Charlie A. Gray a new school song.

The Physical Education department received a boost with its new program. The P.T.A. allotted approximately $1,100.00 for the purpose of building an obstacle course and buying new equipment. The new program, called the “Challenge Course,” will provide something for every student.

Using a very familiar quote, “No one knows what he can do until he tries” is what Miss Charlie A. Gray had in mind, and today we are really proud of our accomplishments.


Miss Charlie A. Gray was born in Donaldsonville, Georgia November 2, 1902. She was one of four children born to Henry and Ollie Gray. After the death of her father and upon completion of high school, the family moved to Moultrie, Georgia.

Her mother later married, becoming Mrs. Ollie G. Smith. Mrs. Smith was widely known in the community for her church and civic work. She worked for the Frank Pidcock family for 30 years.

From domestic work and the cotton fields, Miss Gray decided to pursue a college education. She attended Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama where she received her B.S. Degree in Education. Miss Gray returned to Moultrie and began her teaching career in Moultrie Public schools. Early in her teaching career, her sister, Whittier Beamer, died in South Carolina and left five small children, the youngest being three weeks old. It was then Miss Gray decided that she would help rear and educate her sister's children. Two of these children, Helen and Catherine Wiley taught school in Colquitt County Schools.

Miss Gray never married. She dedicated her life to the welfare of others. Taken from one of her roll books dated 1929-1930, Miss Gray signed her last name with an E added to Gray. Miss Gray died April 12, 1946. She taught school for twenty years.

In October of 1956, a new school opened its doors to over a thousand students. The school, built to serve the black community of Northwest Moultrie, had a staff of 37 teachers, a principal, librarian, secretary, visiting teacher, and 5 lunchroom workers.

When the time came to name the new school, the community felt that the honor should go to Miss Charlie A Gray who spent her lifetime teaching generations of second grade students. Mrs. Elizabeth Cunningham, a special education teacher at Gray remembers her second grade teacher.

"She was a beautiful lady--- tall, stately. She dressed well and carried herself well." Miss Gray was concerned with her students and their futures."

"Miss Gray always made us speak correctly," Mrs. Cunningham remembers. "She wanted us to have a place in the world, and she knew we would not find that place unless we had a mastery of the English language." According to those who knew her and studied under her, Miss Graye was a "dedicated, loyal, and dynamic" teacher who always tried to uplift her students.

Many changes have taken place since Gray was first opened. Although Miss Charlie A. Gray did not live to see the school develop and grow, she would surely approve of the school's philosophy: "To facilitate each student's development into a fully functioning member of society, to guide the student to make responsible contributions in a democratic society; to give students a sense of personal worth to allow for individual differences, and to help each student make the most of strengths and compensate for weaknesses."

Through this philosophy and the dedication of staff and administration, the spirit of the lady who taught, guided, and inspired so many of Moultrie's young people still lives at Charlie A. Gray.

Background information was furnished by the last of Miss Gray's nephews. This information was reviewed by his schoolmates on July 31, 1987, and Wilbur Allen Beamer died September 14, 1987 in Schenectady, New York.

(Note: The author and date of the essay above are unknown. This document was retrieved from archived files in the C.A. Gray Jr. High School Media Center.)

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