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Julia Grant, first principal of Hilton Head Primary School, dies at 75

Julia O. Grant in June 1988 after she was named principal of Hilton Head Primary School.
Julia O. Grant in June 1988 after she was named principal of Hilton Head Primary School. Staff file photo

Julia O. Grant, who married into a native Hilton Head Island family and became the first principal of Hilton Head Primary School, died May 25 at age 75.

“She enhanced the quality of reading instruction for hundreds of students,” said former Hilton Head Elementary School principal Hank Noble. “Her vision for early childhood education and for learning in the primary years of school defined those programs for decades. Of course, being a Grant, she had close ties to the community and frequently enhanced those relationships. She was a partner in all the activities that our schools undertook.”

Grant moved to the island in 1981 from New Jersey with her husband, Joseph Grant, a son of the late James and Janie Aiken Grant and retired assistant principal of Hilton Head Island Middle School.

Julia Grant was hired in 1981 as language arts coordinator at Hilton Head Elementary School, capitalizing on her undergraduate degree in early childhood education, master’s in reading and certification to teach students with learning disabilities. Her responsibilities also included coordinating remedial programs and administering standardized testing.

She was assistant principal for four years and was named principal of Hilton Head Primary School in 1988. The school served some 1,200 students in grades K-2 after another 1,200 students in grades 3-5 moved into a new Hilton Head Elementary School building, vacating 20 portable classrooms between the adjacent buildings.

“There is such a variety of teachers from various parts of the country who have brought with them new ideas,” she said at the time. “It’s been good for the school.”

Grant was principal until 2006, when she moved to the district office as the district’s curriculum coordinator. She retired in 2009.

She came to the island with 18 years of teaching and administrative experience. She taught school in Yonkers, New York, and before that, in Providence, Rhode Island, where she met her husband.

Funeral services are to be at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 1, at Queen Chapel AME Church on Beach City Road.

Senior editor David Lauderdale has been a Lowcountry journalist for more than 40 years. He oversees the editorial page, writes opinion, and tells the stories of our community. His columns have twice won McClatchy’s President’s Award. He grew up in Atlanta, but Hilton Head Island is home.
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