Dear Folk School Family,

When little Betty Hancock first visited the Folk School at eight years old in 1937, she couldn’t imagine what an important part of her life it would eventually become. She visited a few more times over the years, including in 1950, after she married Clay Smith, a blacksmith and woodcarver. Clay’s career then took them on to international locales where they were busy raising children. By the early 1980s, though, they’d relocated to Atlanta, just two hours south of the Folk School. When she accepted a position with the Atlanta History Center that required her to know about fiber, she thought, “I know just the place I can go to learn about weaving, spinning, and dyeing!” Betty became a Work-Study student to help afford all the classes she wanted to take.

Betty had always been attracted to weaving. “I was drawn to the softness and colors of the yarn. I like the excitement, surprise, and sometimes even shock of how colors and patterns work together.” She became so talented at it that Betty was asked to teach some of our weaving classes. It was a family affair in that Clay had started teaching blacksmithing classes here, too.

Betty says her real “claim to fame” is that she introduced Pam Howard to weaving. At Betty’s repeated urging, Pam embraced weaving and went on to become the Folk School’s Resident Artist in Weaving for more than two decades, building it into the renowned program it is today.

Three generations of Betty’s personal family are part of our larger Folk School family. Betty, her husband, their children, and their grandchildren made the school part of their lives: as ambassadors, students, instructors, storytellers at our kids’ Little-Middle program, and as financial supporters keen for the Folk School to positively affect future generations. Betty provided two helpful gifts to the school this year. Her first gift was to our annual fund to help keep the school financially healthy during the pandemic. A second gift endows two perpetual scholarships, one for weaving and one for blacksmithing.

Betty says, “The Folk School is a supportive place where people can experiment, spend time being creative, and learn new skills. My long connection with the Folk School has meant a lot to me.” Our long connection with Betty and her family is meaningful to us, as well.
You may not have first come to campus in 1937, but if you’ve ever been to the Folk School, you’ve seen first-hand how we bring people together in a nurturing environment for experiences in learning and community life that spark self-discovery. That’s a valuable thing in today’s world and we need your help to do it. We appreciate your support and hope to see you soon in Brasstown. 



Jerry Jackson

John C. Campbell Folk School is a nonprofit organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (EIN: 56-0552780). Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Jerry Jackson
About Jerry Jackson

Jerry Jackson is the Executive Director of the John C. Campbell Folk School.