Calhoun Henderson was born October 9, 1871 to George and Millie Henderson. Like his younger brother Charlie, who was
featured in last week’s Picturing the Past article, T.C. received limited
schooling as a child.
Henderson boys were eager to pursue more education though. They attended Professor A.T. Hord’s private
academy in Glenville and then Cullowhee Academy, which later became Western
Carolina University. Throughout his career
T.C. would take many additional courses to continue his own education. His first teaching experience was in a one-room
log schoolhouse in the East Fork community in 1897.
served as the principal of the Croatan Normal School in Robeson County
(1900-1905) and was superintendent of The Cherokee Indian Normal School of
Robeson County (1917-1923). The school, which
provided education for Native American students during a time of segregation,
went through several name changes over the years and is The University of North
Carolina at Pembroke today. According to
“Hail to UNCP! A 125-Year History of the University of North Carolina at
Pembroke” Henderson is credited for “raising the standard of work” throughout
his term as principal and “a surge of progress” during his second stint at the
Transylvania County, T.C. Henderson was first named Superintendent of Schools in
July 1905. Henderson immediately began
to push representatives from the 35 small schools scattered throughout the
county to comply with state regulations regarding education. He held mandatory teacher meetings in each
district, inviting school committee members and parents to attend, as well. He advocated for longer school sessions, the
hiring of better qualified teachers and major improvements to school facilities.
achieve these goals, Henderson purposed a school tax in each school district of
the county. An April 27, 1906 Sylvan
Valley News article stated, “So far in the history of this county no citizen
has ever paid a cent of tax for public schools—and generally speaking there
have been no public schools worth supporting by taxation.” The special tax was approved in Brevard in
April 1906 and other districts soon approved school taxes, as well.
the next twelve years, enrollment increased from 75 percent to 82 percent of
school age children in the county. Daily
attendance also went up from 54 percent of those enrolled to 65 percent. The school year was extended from 84 to 123
days overall, and 147 days in districts with a school tax.
The number of teachers increased from 40 to 60 county wide and they were
much better trained. Thirty-seven teachers
had attended Normal School for Teachers, as opposed to just six previously. In
addition, nine teachers had college diplomas, up from just one in 1905.
conditions were greatly improved with numerous new buildings and upgraded
equipment and supplies. There were now
two state-aided high schools, ten schools with a piano or organ and 25 rural
schools with a library.
Nonetheless, Supt. Henderson wrote a March 16, 1917 Brevard News
article titled, “Brevard’s Greatest Need Is High School Building.” He proposed a 20-year, $25,000 bond to build
a high school with at least four traditional classrooms, two rooms for domestic
science, an auditorium and office space, plus a lab and manual (vocational)
training room in the basement.
the vast improvements Henderson brought to the schools of Transylvania County when
a new school board was elected in 1917 they voted to replace him with Professor
A.F. Mitchell, who had served as the principal at Penrose High School for the
past three years.
week Picturing the Past will look at T.C. Henderson’s second period as
Superintendent of Transylvania County Schools and his legacy to the local
and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. For more information contact Marcy at 828-884-1820