north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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Essay:
     During the late nineteenth century North Carolina’s educational system had problems dealing with rural populations, transportation, funding, and teacher recruitment. Through the efforts of a group of leaders including Charles B. Aycock, Edwin A. Alderman, Charles D. McIver, and James Y. Joyner, the problems were addressed. Joyner was vitally important to the change of attitude and improved North Carolina’s schools systems first as an instructor and later as an administrator.

     James Yadkin Joyner was born during the Civil War and was orphaned at the age of two. He grew up in Lenoir County under the watchful eye of his grandfather, a prominent planter and influential Democrat. Joyner attended a local academy and later the University of North Carolina where he grew close to several up and coming North Carolina political leaders including future governor Aycock. After graduation in 1881, Joyner taught at schools across the state and, by 1889, he had joined Alderman and McIver in providing a traveling educational program for the state’s teachers. Over the next decade Joyner served a series of school systems and colleges as an educator and administrator, including serving as dean for the State Normal and Industrial College in Greensboro, the present University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

     Governor Charles B. Aycock in 1902 appointed Joyner to the position of State Superintendent of Public Instruction, a position that Joyner would hold for the next seventeen years. As superintendent, Joyner sought to bolster teacher training by encouraging the development of normal schools, improving the curriculum of rural schools by adding specialized classes to improve agriculture and homemaking skills, and increasing the length of the school year from four to six months. Through his work, Joyner raised the profile of the superintendent’s job and increased awareness of the state’s educational needs. Joyner retired from educational pursuits in 1918 and became involved in private business, serving as president of the North Carolina Tobacco Growers Association. He died at the age of ninety-one and was buried beside his wife in Raleigh’s Oakwood Cemetery.


References:
Elmer D. Johnson, “James Yadkin Joyner, Educational Statesman,” North Carolina Historical Review (July 1956): 359-383
Gilbert Allen Trip, “James Yadkin Joyner’s Contributions to Education in North Carolina as State Superintendent” (master’s thesis, University of North Carolina, 1939)
James Y. Joyner Papers and Superintendent of Public Instruction Papers, North Carolina State Archives
William Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, III, 336-338—sketch by George-Anne Willard
Howard E. Covington Jr. and Marion A. Ellis, eds., The North Carolina Century: Tar Heels Who Made a Difference, 1900-2000 (2002)


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