Hopkins shares librarian skills at five schools

Susan Hopkins has been an educator for 35 years. Of those years, nine have been in the Fort Dodge Community School District as a teacher-librarian.

Hopkins, who retires this year, is librarian for five schools in the district.

“The first year I came I was at Fair Oaks half time, teaching computer classes. And then half-time at Phillips, during library. They had other librarians who came in and helped, when I wasn’t there,” she said. “Then the next year, for about six or seven years, I was full time at Phillips. Then I did half time at the high school, half time at Phillips one year. And then last year I was at the high school full time.”

Due to budget reductions this year there are only three librarians in the district, meaning Hopkins covers five schools: Fort Dodge Senior High, Fair Oaks and Phillips middle schools, and Feelhaver and Riverside elementary schools.

“The services are all really cut back because the emphasis is teaching K-4,” Hopkins said. “So most of my teaching is at Feelhaver, on a rotation as a special class. And, therefore, I probably get to the middle school and the high school about twice a month, maximum.”

Because Hopkins’ attention is split among so many schools, she is unable to do as much collaboration with teachers or provide greater information skills to students at some of the schools.

“About all I do is order books,” she said. “Two book orders a year.”

Before coming to the Fort Dodge school district, Hopkins taught in Wisconsin, spending 25 years in K-12.

“I never really left the elementary there,” she said. “Here, when I was at only the middle school and high school, it was the part of my career I was least spread out in grades. But it’s so nice to get back to the elementary students.”

As a school librarian, Hopkins’ duties are many.

“I share stories, all kinds of literature with them. Plus, I create websites for them to go to, to do learning games,” she said. “We did keyboarding skills, Internet safety. We’ve done a lot of things for K-4.”

Of her duties, Hopkins most enjoys helping students to better access information and resources.

“A part I really like is narrowing that information gap, where kids have access to materials they might not have otherwise,” she said.

Hopkins also enjoys working with the school’s teachers.

“What I think I should be doing more, but I can’t because we’re so limited, is collaborate with the teachers to teach something in class that they’re studying,” she said. “I love to find the resources for them. Not just books, but Internet sources. I create some sites so the kids have access 24-7. I’ve actually made a website specifically for Feelhaver where the parents can go to the web page and see what their kids are doing in school.”

Hopkins said she has enjoyed teaching and helping to guide elementary students most of all.

They have a different perspective. They really enjoy everything I do,” she said. “They’re so open. When I see them, on the street or in the mall, they always want to give me a hug and say hello.”