BY RENEE HENDRIX –
Even from an early age, Hollie Montgomery saw the importance of education and the impact it makes in lives of children. Growing up in a household with two educators, it is completely understandable that she would have a deep appreciation for teaching. Montgomery saw, first hand, the impact that both her father, James Lockhart, and her mother, Diane Lockhart, made on their students. She witnessed how her parents’ love of the children impacted them even more than their teaching. Montgomery stated that is what she strives to do, “Love first, teach second. If a child feels loved, then they can learn.” She credits several teachers for, not only their love of teaching and for students, but for their faith in God that proved to be very instrumental in Montgomery’s style of education. “God has called me to teach….and this is my mission field.”
Montgomery was born in Mena to Diane Lockhart and the late James Lockhart. Some of her earliest memories were helping her mother prepare for her 1st grade class. She stated she loved playing school with her dolls and the neighborhood children and joked, “I was always the teacher… I could be quite the bossy one.” She went on to be a 1995 graduate of Mena High School and continued on to Rich Mountain Community College for two years before transferring to Arkansas Tech where she earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Education degree. She started her first teaching position with the Waldron School District as a 1st grade teacher. In 2001, she moved to Louise Durham and has stayed with the Mena School District ever since. “I’ve been a teacher for 17 years!” Montgomery stated with disbelief.
At the age of 27, Montgomery says she married the man that she had prayed for her entire life, citing that Michael was an amazing blessing to her. She stated he has been her rock through devastating loss, the spiritual leader to her family and her best friend. The couple share two sons: Keala (from Michael’s first marriage) and Brady.
The couple has endured their share of losses, including three miscarriages, two at 20 weeks. The second was a little girl, named Baily Michelle and the third, Brooks James. Montgomery feels her faith in God has seen her through the times of loss and heartbreak and finds peace in the scripture Psalm 73:26 – “My Flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Montgomery was raised in church and grew up with strong Christian values. She shared that, “Jesus Christ is my everything.” And, she credits her growth in her faith and prayer life to a “wonderful group of ladies at Dallas Avenue Baptist Church. They took her in and loved her unconditionally and advised her through some very hard times in her life.
A wonderful friend of the family wrote a tribute to Montgomery’s father. “Oh, that we will be able to still touch our students’ and friends’ hearts like your dad has impressed the lives of others… every day I do a golden deed, by helping those who are in need.” She added, “My life on earth is but a span… and so I’ll do the best I can.” Montgomery went on to say, “What an amazing thought, to leave an impression on a life and know that through our Lord and Savior, Jesus, we can leave a legacy and touch a life! If I’ve pointed others to God then I’ve shown them love. Matthew 5:16 let your light shine before others.”