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Mena Arkansas News covering Polk County and the surrounding area

Louise Durham principal retires

By Trey Youngdahl

After a decade-long career as Louise Durham Elementary School’s (LDE) principal, Jimma Holder has made the decision to retire.

Holder, a Mena native, graduated from Mena High School in 1978. Upon graduation, she stayed at home to raise her children until they were old enough to attend school. She then enrolled at the University of Arkansas Rich Mountain, formerly Rich Mountain Community College, and later transferred to Arkadelphia. She graduated with a degree in early childhood education and returned afterwards to get her degree in school counseling. This was not the end of her education, as she returned to school again at Texas A&M at Texarkana to earn her degree in administration.

“To be honest, I wanted to be off when my children were off,” Holder said. “I love kids, I love helping others, and it gave me the opportunity to be with my kids more.”

Her teaching career began when she started working at Hatfield High School, now closed, teaching seventh-12th grade special education. 

From there she changed positions, teaching elementary school, was a K-12 librarian, an elementary counselor, but ultimately ended up teaching at LDE as a literacy coach in 2013. From there, she worked her way up to becoming the principal.

Now, after a successful career as principal, Holder has decided to retire. That doesn’t mean her love for helping children is gone, however. In fact, she is leaving because of that passion.

“I have a granddaughter that is blind. She is going to Kansas City to attend an independent living school called Alpha Point, and I am going to go with her,” Holder said. “We just didn’t feel really comfortable with her being in downtown Kansas City at the beginning of this training, so until she gets established on her own, I am going to go with her.”

Once her granddaughter is able to continue on her own, Holder has a bucket list she is planning on completing in her retirement. This bucket list includes traveling to all of the national parks and several historical sites, kayaking Antelope Canyon, and other nature-related activities.

Though this is a welcomed retirement for Holder, she shared that she will miss her staff at LDE.

“(LDE) has the best teachers in the world and the best families and students. It’s an amazing school where amazing things are happening. The kiddos, of course, are my absolute favorite, but all of the LDE family are fantastic,” Holder said. “I am so thankful to Mena Public Schools and Hatfield Public Schools for the experiences that I’ve had, and the people that I’ve gotten to get to know. It’s been an amazing experience.”

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