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Gray, William Scott, Jr. (05 June 1885–08 September 1960), reading expert, was born in Coatsburg, Illinois, the son of William Scott Gray, a schoolteacher and state senator from 1921 to 1923, and Annie Letitia Gilliland. After graduation from high school in 1904, Gray taught for a year in a one-room school in Adams County, Illinois, where he felt, in his own words, “distinctly unsuccessful” in teaching reading. From 1905 to 1908 he was principal and teacher in the village school in Fowler, Illinois. He entered Illinois State Normal University in 1908 and received his diploma in 1910. At the university, he became immersed in Herbartianism, a humanistic philosophy of education focusing on children’s interests and capacities. From 1910 to 1912 Gray served as principal and critic teacher supervising student teachers at the Normal University Training School. During this time he published his first professional writing, twelve articles in the ...

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McGuffey, William Holmes (23 September 1800–04 May 1873), textbook writer and teacher, was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, the son of Alexander McGuffey and Anna Holmes, farmers of Scot and Scotch-Irish ancestry. McGuffey was raised on the family’s frontier homestead in Trumbull County in the Western Reserve in Ohio. The family’s struggles to clear the land and establish a working farm shaped the values that permeated the ...

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Sharp, Zerna Addas (12 August 1889–17 June 1981), elementary teacher and principal and reading consultant, was born in Hillisburg, Indiana, the daughter of Charles Sharp, owner of a general store, and Charlotta E. Smith. At age five Sharp learned to read by herself and at sixteen graduated from high school. She took a summer course at Marion Normal College and passed the state teachers’ examination shortly thereafter. In 1905 she began teaching first grade in her hometown. The next year she taught in Circleville and Kirklin, both in Indiana. During this time she continued her education at Columbia University; however, she did not obtain a degree. Around 1920 Sharp became an elementary school principal in LaPorte, Indiana; she continued to teach as well....