He is a former long-time professor at Northwest Mississippi Community College and currently is an adjunct professor for Belhaven University. Now, Dr. Larry Sylvester wants to become the next member of the DeSoto County School District (DCS) Board of Education, representing District 5.
Sylvester has announced that he had filed qualifying petitions to be on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. As of mid-August, Sylvester is one of three candidates for the post and is joined by incumbent board member Sarah Doss-Thomas, and challenger, Charles Barton of Hernando.
Terms for the five positions on the DCS Board of Education, the largest school district in the state of Mississippi, are staggered, so the District 5 seat is the only one that will be contested in November.
Doss-Thomas won the seat over the late Theron Long in her first attempt in 2014. Barton is running in his first attempt at gaining the post.
Sylvester believes there’s a trickle-down effect between a high-quality school system and the high quality-of-life enjoyed in DeSoto County. He hopes to help maintain and enhance the excellent school programs offered by DCS.
“I understand the importance of our schools to this county and our community,” Sylvester said. “Our property values are dependent upon businesses moving in here, and they are looking for a good school system. If you maintain the property values and you keep having jobs and businesses moving in here, you won’t have the crime that comes with decreasing property values.”
Before joining Belhaven University, Sylvester was a biology professor on the DeSoto campus of Northwest Mississippi Community College. His educational background includes an associate’s degree from Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, master’s degrees in science and educational administration from the University of Mississippi, and a Ph. D in educational administration from the University of Memphis.
“I’ve always had a love for teaching and a love for students and I’ve wanted to help them,” said Sylvester. “I want to maintain a good school system here and try to improve anything that I can in the system, and also be a good steward of tax dollars.”
Sylvester has been active in leadership roles as a member of the Disability Rights Mississippi (DRMS) Board of Directors. DRMS is a private, non-profit corporation that has a federal mandate to protect and advocate for the rights of those with disabilities across the state.
He said he would work to make educational dollars are spent in the classroom and that teacher salaries match what is paid to instructors in other Mid-South states.
“I would hate to see teachers pick up and leave because they could make more money elsewhere,” he said. “You should not have to leave Mississippi and DeSoto County to make a living somewhere else.”
Sylvester is married to DeSoto County Mental Health Commissioner and former Coordinating Nurse for the DeSoto County Health Department, Pat Sylvester. They, along with their daughter, son-in-law and twin grand-daughters, live in Nesbit.