As the historical marker states, Calvin Wiley was the first superintendent of North Carolina Common Schools in the mid 1800's, at the time of the Civil War. Wiley was born in the Alamance region of Guilford County, in the vicinity of Liberty and Alamance Church Roads. Mr. Wiley worked tirelessly to bring quality public education to North Carolina. He was instrumental in prescribing and distributing uniform textbooks in North Carolina. He worked on decreasing illiteracy. He established standards and examination boards for teachers. He saw education as the means for people to overcome poverty and to become less provincial. Under Wiley's tenure and through his transformative practices, North Carolina became known for having the best public school system in the South.
Also a journalist and lawyer, Wiley wrote about the politics of education and, on a more homespun level, on the notion of "awakening readers to their state and culture through his writing."* Here is our favorite quotes about Wiley, a man for whom we have tremendous admiration and respect: "Using his communication skills as a writer and speaker, he devoted himself to finding ways to awaken a spirit of pride in the people."* As the school year is about to begin in Guilford County, let us all take a minute to be inspired by a man whose relevance, to the history of public education in North Carolina, will never wane (see reference below).
The man in the photo, who just happened to run by as we were on a photo shoot, told us he was on a five mile run. Likely, he ran right past Wiley's old homestead.