Monroe County’s newest school board member aims to continue her brother’s legacy in the district and community.
Priscilla Doster was officially sworn in as the District 2 representative Nov. 24, following her win against Steve Coleman in the Nov. 7 election.
She fills the Board of Education seat held by her brother, J. Ray Grant Jr., for 23 years. Grant, a longtime Forsyth physician, died in March at age 65 from an apparent suicide. He had served as the board’s chairman since 2007.
A week after her brother’s death, Doster decided that she would run for the Board of Education seat. She wanted to help strengthen and continue to improve Monroe County schools, just like her brother had.
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“I’m not trying to take my brother’s place, because he was a very special individual and nobody can really fill his shoes,” Doster said. “I just have a yearning to pick up where he left off.”
The education profession runs deep in Doster’s family, eight generations, in fact. The tradition goes all the way from her great-great-grandfather, a teacher and one of the first settlers in Monroe County, to her granddaughter, who is now majoring in agriculture education, she said.
Doster, a Mary Persons High School alumna, worked for the Monroe school system for 24 years before retiring in 2001. She started out teaching in DeKalb County before going home to Monroe County to serve as curriculum director and then taking on a position now equivalent to assistant superintendent.
“Dr. Doster brings a wealth of knowledge and educational experience to our board of education,” Superintendent Mike Hickman wrote in an email. “She understands the culture of Monroe County Schools and the high expectations we have for student and staff performance. We are excited to have her on board.”
She’s also been an adjunct professor and program director at colleges and done contract work for school districts. Since retiring, she has continued to be involved with the school district, including as a board member of the Monroe County Achievement Center.
“Our family has always been interested in education and being involved,” Doster said. “I have a heart for community service and I have a heart for education, for young people and making young people’s lives better. The Board of Education position is a perfect marriage of those two interests.”
Doster managed Grant’s first Board of Education campaign, and they talked a lot about how boards operate, decisions that have to be made, and balancing the needs of the public with economic responsibilities, she said. During her campaign, Doster visited as many homes as she could in District 2 to talk with local families and see how the county has grown and changed.
“I have a goal to be open-minded and listen to what the needs are, and that means listen to the people, my constituents, all of Monroe county,” Doster said. “I don’t have one agenda that I’m pushing for. I want to not lose sight of the components while I’m focusing on the big picture of the improvement of Monroe County schools.”
Grant was great at working with the superintendent, other board members and the community, and Doster hopes to continue her brother’s legacy.
“The voters of District 2 have decided that Dr. Doster’s experience in education will be valuable to the Board of Education,” said James Evans Jr., vice chairman of the board. “I look forward to working with her to continue to provide excellence for the students of Monroe County.”