‘Grandma of E.A. Harrold’ Former student and longtime employee reflects on her time at Millington institution

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By Thomas Sellers Jr.

The date of June 18, 2021 had a sizable impact around the world. 

The closing of a school in Millington, Tenn., was felt like earthquake on the Richter Scale because so many who passed over the nearly 100 years have been distributed across the globe. 

E.A. Harrold Elementary’s existence as an everyday learning institution concluded in May. 

The longtime location had transformed in structure and format since opening in the early 1920s. One of the souls shaped in the building as a student and employee was Susy Jones. 

The now 79-year-old Millington resident worked nearly a decade as E.A. Harrold’s secretary and office worker during late 1990s and early 2000s. Saying former Principal Tanya Mabry was the best to work for, it was a phone call from her that gave Jones a chance to make it out June 18 to pay tribute to her beloved school. 

“It was really sad, my heart was very heavy,”she acknowledged. “It was an unexpected feeling. I guess it was just seeing everybody. I haven’t seen so many of them since I retired.”

Jones’ first retirement came after a 28-year in the government working in Maryland and Tennessee. She spent 24 years in Millington at the NSA Mid-South Base.

“I got bored sitting at home and after four years of being a substitute teacher, I wanted something more stable,” she recalled. “I got tired of waking up and not knowing where I was going to go.”

With the help of Millington Education icon Trent McVay, Jones landed her dream job at Harrold. 

 “I think it was Ms. Tanya Mabry that gave me the nickname ‘The Grandmother of E.A. Harrold,’” Jones recalled. “The kids couldn’t wait to get to the office and talk to me about their weekend. And another one of my duties was giving the children medication. Those kids are really special to me. I just loved the kids.”

Jones was one a student at Harrold. Before moving over to E.A. Harrold, the little girl growing up near where Edmund Orgill Park stands today attended Bethlehem School until the second grade. 

“I thought I had gone overseas,” Jones recalled. “I went from a one-room school with Ms. Hattie Stewart, who was like our mother, to E.A. Harrold. And Mr. Webb was my principal. He was a taskmaster. Although he was a taskmaster he really cared about education.”

Jones walked the hall of Harrold from third to eighth grade. Then it was time for her move up to Woodstock High School where she graduated.

Like several E.A. Harrold alumnus, Jones heard stories of the school closing, being saved and having its future up in the air. 

As of 2020, Jones thought Harrold was safe for years to come. But it was on Facebook.com she began to wrap her mind around her former place of education and employee ceasing operation.  

While the day-to-day function of E.A. Harrold is a thing of the past, Jones said through the impact of the faculty/staff and success of the former students, Harrold lives on forever. 

“I just felt sad because I’ve never known life without E.A. Harrold,” she said. “I loved working there especially after going to school there. 

“A lot of great kids have come from that school and had a great impact,” she concluded. “So many people have come out of that school to do great things.”