Neuhaus is closed today, January 18, due to inclement weather.

Teaching. Reading. Reaching.
Neuhaus Education Center is a 501(c)(3)
non-profit organization dedicated
to promoting reading success.

My Hero is a Steel Magnolia

By: Rai Thompson, M.Ed., CALT 


Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is full of magnificent magnolia trees. Their flowers epitomize the loveliness and sweetness of the south; hence, the reason Robert Harling chose them as a metaphor for southern women in his play, Steel Magnolias.

While teaching in the regular classroom, Cena Holifield, Ph. D., CALT, discovered those children who were not learning to their capacity and took action. She became a Certified Academic Language Therapist and began working with dyslexic students. She then decided to start a school and now serves as executive director of the 3D School (Dynamic Dyslexia Design) in Petal, Mississippi. That’s just her full-time job; her career involves spreading the word about dyslexia and serving the children who desperately need help in schools. Holifield was instrumental in assisting the passage of the Mississippi dyslexia law, which includes a provision for teachers to attain a Master’s Degree in Dyslexia Therapy. She subsequently inspired William Carey University in Hattiesburg to instigate such a program, and Holifield invited Neuhaus Education Center to provide the method. Neuhaus is in its second summer of Basic Language Skills instruction with 23 teachers in cohort one and 28 in cohort two. William Carey’s master’s program has also recently become one of only 17 universities to become nationally accredited through the International Dyslexia Association.

Unsurprisingly, except to her, Holifield was a recipient of Forrest General Hospital’s 2011 Spirit in Action Award, honoring citizens who better their communities. She is truly turning the page on literacy in her state, but Mississippi is only the beginning for this steel magnolia.

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