Ken Hopkins takes over the top job at the high school
By Elizabeth F. McNamara
Supt. Alexis Meyer announced Kenneth Hopkins Jr. has been hired as the new principal for East Greenwich High School at an early morning School Committee meeting Tuesday. Hopkins replaces Michael Podraza, who Meyer tapped to serve as assistant superintendent in July. The School Committee approved his three-year contract in a 7-0 vote. His salary will be $123,000.
“Mr. Hopkins is a well-respected and accomplished Rhode Island educator,” said Meyer in a statement released after the announcement. “He is a passionate leader who has a special way of building relationships with students, staff, and families. He has a proven record of success and we are thrilled to have him join our team and add to the legacy of East Greenwich High School.”
Hopkins, 39, has been assistant principal at Smithfield High School since 2016. Before that, he was assistant principal of Smithfield Middle School. In that position, Hopkins was named R.I. Assistant Principal of the Year in 2015.
Hopkins served as acting principal for Smithfield High School during the 2017-18 school year while the principal assumed full time responsibilities as National Association of School Principals President. He has coached basketball on the high school and middle school level and has been involved in Special Olympics Unified Sports, including as coach for Gallagher Middle School Unified Basketball team when it played the country’s first-ever middle school Unified Basketball game in 2012.
Hopkins takes over with the EGHS assistant principal and athletic director positions vacant (read more about those departures HERE).
“It’s an opportunity. A mountain in front of you is an opportunity for you to climb it,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
On top of that are the myriad of unanswered questions about the reopening of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hopkins attended the virtual forum on reopening two weeks ago. “I was impressed with the communal forum … allowing parents to voice their concerns. The difficulty now is we’re in unprecedented times. We’re called on by the governor and the commissioner to be flexible.”
He remains optimistic. “We can do this. We’ll figure it out.”
Truly honored to have been appointed principal of East Greenwich High School. Looking forward to the opportunity to work together, as Avengers, preserving the tradition of excellence present in this school community, and expanding opportunities to contribute to the EGHS legacy.
— Ken Hopkins Jr. (@KenHopkinsJr) on Twitter, August 4, 2020
With COVID restrictions, it’s not going to be the typical start to a new job but he said his first priority was to reach out to the EGHS staff – ”asap” – followed by students and parents. Hopkins said he prides himself on remaining humble and communicating effectively. He believes in “constant and transparent communication.”
Hopkins grew up in Cranston (Cranston West Class of 1999). His father, also Kenneth Hopkins, is on the Cranston City Council and is running for mayor. Hopkins has bachelor of science and master of education administration degrees from Providence College. A lifelong Rhode Islander, Hopkins lives in Johnston with his wife, Cristina, and their two elementary age children, Lily and Kenny III. This being Rhode Island, he has family in EG – his aunt and uncle are Kevin and Beth Hopkins.
Hopkins starts Aug. 11.
Also Tuesday, Meyer named Margaret Baker the district’s new director of finance, administration and operations. The position had been vacant since Greg Booth left in February after seven months on the job. Baker has been chief financial officer for the state Turnpike and Bridge Authority for the past five years. She has also worked in various finance capacities for several Rhode Island school districts and she is a certified school business administrator (a requirement for the position). Baker has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s in business administration. The School Committee approved a two-year contract for Baker in a 7-0 vote; she will make a salary of $115,000.
She will begin sometime in August.
The School Committee also formally accepted the resignation of Chris Cobain as athletic director. That done, Meyer can now post the job.
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