For several generations of students at Petal High School, Ramona Hollimon – affectionately known as Mrs. Ramona – has been somewhat of the guardian of the flagship school in the Petal School District, lending a helping hand to parents, students and administrators. in his role as receptionist.
Now, after 23 years, the school’s front office will look different, as Hollimon retired on October 1 to spend more time with his family, among other efforts.
“I am very excited about (my retirement),” Hollimon said. “Petal High School was truly my place of service, and I feel blessed to be able to serve there.
“But I’m just looking for a slower pace, and I want to be able to enjoy (time with) my two granddaughters. I’m going to do a few trips, but it’s mostly to be with the granddaughters.
Hollimon began his career with the Petal School District in 1998 at Petal Upper Elementary School, which was then known as WL Smith Elementary School. She was hired as a secretary / receptionist by then-director Ione Bond, who also helped found or grow organizations such as the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Southeast Mississippi, and the Petal Education Foundation.
“(Bond) really gave me an opportunity and taught me all about school affairs,” Hollimon said. “I am so grateful to her for giving me the opportunity to serve, and also just for training me and teaching me all the knowledge she had.
“She was such a great leader, such a great director. I can’t say enough good things about it. Ms Margaret Tynes (who is currently Director of Federal Programs) was the advisor there, and she was also instrumental in my training on education and how to be a support staff member in the field. education.
Hollimon remained at WL Smith until 2002 when she was given the opportunity to transfer to Petal High School to become the new receptionist there.
“Just that age level (in high school) – I like being able to serve teenagers and be on a mission there to help them,” Hollimon said. “I like helping parents at this age because it can be a very difficult time with them when they go into ninth grade.
“They’re young and trying to learn, and then when they leave grade 12 they go out into the world as adults and they have these decisions to make. So they change so much from ninth to twelfth grade, but I love this age. If you are not into teaching you may have a lot of questions and you just need a little help.
Hollimon believes that his passion for this age group was offered to him by God, as well as the ability to multitask at a high level. These skills were certainly necessary in her case, as a typical day could see Hollimon helping students with questions about the day, guiding visitors, answering phones, helping teachers with problems, and supporting school administrators.
“I can help a teacher on the phone, help a parent who comes to the door, help a student, help administrators and teachers,” Hollimon said. “God just endowed me with a unique ability to be able to handle all of these things at the same time.
“There’s a lot going on and you have to multitask on all kinds of things. Plus, Rosie Kinard was at Petal High School for 35 years – she was the principal’s secretary when I was in high school and when I arrived in 2002 – and she welcomed me and taught me all about the education too.
One of the students Hollimon made a big impression on was Cayla Camp Burns, who worked as an office assistant under Hollimon before graduating in 2006.
“One thing I always noticed was his kindness to everyone who walked through those doors and at this school,” Burns said. “Also, she had superb organizational skills, which came in the form of a very detailed note-taking process on her desk calendar.
“She was always on top of everything. As a student, for me her personality and sense of humor made the job enjoyable.
Matt Dillon, superintendent of the Petal School District, said Hollimon’s retirement was bittersweet for members of the district.
“She comes from being a mainstay at Petal High School – one of the first faces to greet you,” he said. “She played a very big role in our success in high school, in how she helped countless students, countless staff, countless leaders in her role over many years.
“We will miss her very much in our district, and we wish her all the best as she spends more time with her family.”