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Mr. Gantt, Modified

Written and portrayed by Shelton Ponder, "Mr. Gantt, Modified" shares the extraordinary life of Clarence Edward Gantt. Introduction by A.J. Byrd, President, Clay County African American Legacy, Inc.

About the play

Mr. Gantt, Modified

A one-act play written and performed
Shelton Ponder

 Scene I— The Early Years:

After greeting this new class of Garrison School students, Mr. Gantt begins his evening lessons on Twentieth-century history with his birth in 1903. Personal childhood memories, expectations, and education are generously sprinkled through remembrances of famous figures and events during the Roaring Twenties.

Scene 2—The “Sanctuary”:

Mr. Gantt faces the challenges as a teacher returning to his hometown. From the school’s one private spot where a teacher can sneak a smoke (the furnace room), he shares a private letter from Professor Gay and recalls the great successes of Garrison’s Wonder Team of 1932.

15 Minute Intermission

Scene 3—The Garrison Years:

The 193O’s and 40’s, a period burdened with the depression and war, significantly shaped the education landscape. The students of Garrison faced these burdens with the added weight of segregation. Under Gantt’s leadership as principal, the school expanded and students excelled academically and personally, a testament to the resilience of education in the face of adversity. The 50s brought new challenges and new hope, further illustrating the dynamic nature of education.

Scene 4—The Final Years:

Mr. Gantt continued teaching at Liberty High School as a study hall monitor. A new decade, the 1960’s brings on new obstacles to be overcome and opportunities to embrace. Mr. Gantt continues to face these challenges and most importantly, continues to mentor, motivate...and as always, TEACH.

About The Author/Actor

Shelton Ponder was born to William and Nancy Ponder on May 11, 1943, in San Francisco, CA. He is the third son of eleven children. After the Ponders returned to Liberty in 1948, Shelton was enrolled at Garrison School, where his ancestors were students in the late 1800s. Ponder graduated from Liberty High School in 1961 and attended college before joining the U.S. Air Force. 

During his enlistment, which he calls a "social experiment," he was able to test his personal beliefs with favorable results. Always a writer of ideas and concepts, Shelton continued writing about his views and ideas—these soon became a collection of his work.

Ponder's talent and dedication were rewarded when his book of poetry, Sand Script, was published. The popularity of his book catapulted him into the national spotlight, leading to numerous television interviews and speaking and reading engagements across the country. Supported by his ten brothers and sisters, Ponder is now realizing one of his greatest ambitions, bringing 'Mr. Gantt, Modified' to the stage.

For more information or to request an appearance, please feel free to contact:

Shelton E. Ponder