The first principal of the Ashpole Institute was Stinceon Ivey. Ivey was born January 31, 1816 in Johnston County, North Carolina to James Ivey and Drusilla Beasley Ivey. His parents were too poor to provide him an education so he decided to educate himself. Entering school at age 22, he kept studying and working until he was qualified to teach. He worked with students in Stokes, Rockingham, Wake, Johnston, Columbus and Robeson counties.
Ivey married Mary Ann King on December 18, 1845 in Wake County, North Carolina. Together they had six children. One of them, Alice Herman Ivey, married Charles Bascom Thompson and together they produced twelve children, youngest of whom was Paul Herman Thompson.
In 1877 Ivey was recruited from Whiteville to come head a school for the Cape Fear Baptist Association in Ashpole. The school, Ashpole Institute, opened in February, 1878 with five students. Classes were held in the sanctuary of Ashpole Baptist Church until a suitable building could be constructed. The enrollment increased daily during the five-month term. The first school year was a resounding success.
The Institute continued to grow under Ivey's leadership for ten years. He died on August 8, 1888 after a brief illness.