Kate Vixon Wofford

Black and white photograph of Kate Wofford

Kate Vixon Wofford. Image from Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia.

(1894-1954)  Wofford was born in Laurens,SC, to John Albert Wofford and Cleo Cunningham. She received an A.B. with honors in 1916 from Winthrop College and soon after started teaching at Laurens High School. She served briefly in the Washington office of U.S. Senator Ben Tillman and then joined the navy as a yeoman during World War I. Wofford returned to teach at Laurens High and in 1922 was elected to the first of two terms as county superintendent of schools, the first female school superintendent in South Carolina and the first woman elected to public office in the state. The support of women, with their newly granted suffrage rights, was important to Wofford’s election success. In addition to bringing needed change to the county’s rural schools, Wofford focused on improving conditions and standards for African American schools as well, a choice thrown at her in the second campaign but a challenge she overcame. Active in the South Carolina State Teachers Association, she was elected president for the 1926–1927 term and was the first woman to serve in this office as well.

In 1930 Wofford continued her education, receiving her A.M. from Cornell University (1931) and her Ph.D. from Columbia University (1934). 

Wofford became head professor and director of rural education at State Teachers College, Buffalo, New York, and became widely known and respected for her expertise on education in rural schools. In 1935 Wofford was offered the position of dean at the University of South Carolina, but she declined because it would take her out of the field of rural education.

Wofford’s expertise led to many accomplishments and honors, including visiting professorships across the United States and internationally. She held positions within the rural education department of the National Education Association and wrote for and edited some of the association’s yearbooks.

In 1947 Wofford became director of elementary education at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she gained further distinction. In 1952 she organized a program fulfilling a recommendation to the Turkish Ministry of Education. With her colleagues, Wofford gained funding and then directed a course of study for twenty-five Turkish educators. Her report of this success, The Workshop Way with Foreign Students, was published in 1954. Wofford died of cancer at her home in Gainesville and was buried in the New Prospect Baptist Church Cemetery near Laurens, South Carolina.