Hattiesburg Public School District Associate Superintendent Jimmy Hopkins says he didn't want to go when he was drafted during the Vietnam War.
was teaching at the time, and he
felt it unfair that he
should be called to serve.
says those two years of service overseas instilled in him a desire for public service that he
still feels today.
"That sense of focused purpose I got in the military developed a sense of yearning," Hopkins
"It cultivated a call for public service that I already had deep within me."
is one of three finalists for the job of HPSD superintendent, a position that was vacated by Annie Wimbish in June.
Hopkins has been an educator for 39 years - 27 of them with Hattiesburg Public Schools.
The last six months he's been serving as interim superintendent while the board looks for Wimbish's replacement.
"I want to be superintendent of the Hattiesburg Public School District because I love the school district," he said.
"I've been a part of it for a long time.
I want to be able to use the vast resources in this community to make this district a very effective learning place."
has a passion for education.
remembers when he
first job as a secondary English teacher in the Meridian Public School District
He was on a committee that helped develop a stringent writing proficiency test for the district - before Mississippi had a statewide English test for students.
"I took on my entire load of six classes, and all my kids passed that test," he
"The milestone was getting kids excited about writing."
Hopkins also remembers when he was assistant superintendent of HPSD, and the district was implementing its desegregation plan in the late 1980s.
is still interested in teacher recruitment and retention.
oversees the district's Teacher Induction Academy, which provides support to new teachers.
Stability of the teaching staff is just one of the factors that Hopkins
sees as contributing to a balanced district as a whole - and to a deep-rooted community.
"You have to be aware of the role a school district plays in the growth and progress of a community," he
"What happens in the schools impacts the stability of the community.
Schools play a vital role in maintaining the stability of the social order in a community."
brings a wealth of experience to the district.
He spent 11 years teaching in the Meridian Public School District before becoming a principal for two years at the Piney Woods Country Life School.
Then in 1984 he took a job as co-principal for curriculum and instruction at Hattiesburg High School for two years, before becoming assistant superintendent of the district for 13 years.
He's been associate superintendent of the district since 1999.
says being with HPSD
for so long has given him a familiarity with the district.
"I have well-established community relationships and a full working knowledge of the school district's operations," he
Margaret Hull, HPSD personnel specialist, has had Hopkins as a boss for four years.
Director of Student Services Deborah Martin has known Hopkins
for 18 years.
"I view him as a person who is trustworthy, loyal and diligent," she
"I think he'll make a wonderful superintendent."
Hopkins has several goals in mind, if he becomes superintendent.
"I want to maintain focus, maintain academic progress and maintain community involvement," he
"I want to maintain public confidence and be transparent in the process."
also wants to make sure he
keeps the public informed.
"Always let the community know what we're doing, how we're doing it and how it can participate," he
At the root of it all, it comes back to school and community for Hopkins