John McClendon Tutt was born on January 14th, 1886, the son of John Tutt and Clara Clemons Tutt. Orphaned at an early age, John came under the tutelage of Lucy Craft Laney, whose reputation for uplifting the youth in the Augusta area and providing them with the educational and social skills to survive in the post-Civil War South was becoming legendary. John attended the private boarding school established by Ms. Laney in the 1880’s, the Haines Normal and Industrial Institute, and quickly began to distinguish himself as a student with an overwhelming grasp of all things academic. He graduated from Haines in 1902 at the age of 15.
After completing his studies at Haines, he received an academic scholarship to Lincoln University, an all-boys school in Chester County, Pennsylvania. During his time at Lincoln, John distinguished himself as an outstanding scholar. On June 6th, 1905, a proud John Tutt graduated with a bachelor’s of arts degree from Lincoln University. At the commencement he was given the honor of delivering Salutatory and received the Bradley Medal for best standing in scientific studies. When he addressed his fellow classmates, faculty and staff he did so in Latin. This was a direct reflection on the curriculum presented to him by Lucy Craft Laney at the Haines Institute. In addition to his Bachelor of Arts degree, he remained an extra year to complete a Master’s degree as well. In 1949, Lincoln University, his alma mater, awarded him a Doctor of Pedagogy (honorary).
Throughout his career he would continue to enhance his educational abilities by taking courses at Paine College, Fort Valley State College, Florida A & M, and the Teacher’s College of Columbia University (1950-1953).2 After completing his initial studies at Lincoln, John moved back to Augusta to begin teaching Math at the Haines Institute (He taught at Haines from 1906-1949, and Lucy Craft Laney High School from 1949-1958. It is also important to note that after leaving Laney in 1958 he taught for 2 years at Boggs Academy in Keysville, Georgia and eventually came back to Augusta to substitute teach.)