By Lynda Shadbolt
My husband has seven days left in his teaching career at Stuart Baker Elementary School. I have to admit that I still can’t believe it. He moved here in 1989 and started teaching that fall for what is now the Trillium Lakelands District School Board. We were a young couple, new to the county. I was working at Bark Leadership Centre and he landed a full time teaching job in Gooderham. Jim had about five lovely years teaching in the little school and he loved every minute. The families in that small town welcomed him with open arms and he still tells lovely stories about the people that he met at that time. Eventually he was transferred to Victoria Street and then Stuart Baker.
This is what I can tell you about Jim Hopkins. If he taught your child, he loved your child. Not once in his 26 years of teaching did he ever come home complaining about a kid. Every single night at our dinner table he would tell Madeline and I the most heart-warming, funny, kind stories of every single little person that he taught. He loves teaching and he loves the kids. And I can tell you that it is a delight to live with someone who loves their job so much. He is always happy. Madeline and I are very lucky to live with someone who is so positive and so are the kids that he taught, and the teachers that he worked with. Jim Hopkins chooses to live in joy every day. That in itself is a lesson for the kids, in addition to the math, library, physical education, bird watching, etc., that he taught.
I have no doubt stories will be told about him around kitchen tables for many years. Jim is exiting his job quietly because he is a sensitive guy who has a hard time saying goodbye. He did tell me that if he could say one thing to future teachers it would be “I was a kid who struggled. I had a hard time in school and then when I got epilepsy it was even harder. I thought I was going nowhere in life. But the teachers I had never gave up on me. They believed in me. And I just can’t believe that I’ve had such a great career and a wonderful life. Don’t give up on any kid. Every kid has potential.”
On behalf of Jim I want to say thank you to every single child for showing up and exploring and learning with him. Thanks to all the parents for the many many gifts and support that he/we have received over the years at Christmas and throughout the year. Thanks to all the teachers and administrators who have shared this amazing profession with him. And a special thanks to Ginny, Wendy and Sue. My husband is a better man and husband because of you. He has loved working with you.