She had plans to be a fighter pilot, but finally relented after learning "girls just didn't do that then."
After she enrolled in college, Mrs. Hopkins realized the profession she had been running from was one she had a calling for.
"I had been around education all my life, and I decided that was what I wanted to do," said Mrs. Hopkins, the Cherokee County School District's assistant superintendent for accountability, technology and strategic planning.
And after 48 years in a job she's called a "hobby," Mrs. Hopkins is finally hanging up her hat and retiring on Thursday.
A reception in her honor will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday at the county's Educational Services Annex on Keeter Road in Canton.
The decision to retire is one Mrs. Hopkins is excited, yet nervous, about.
"It's going to be hard to adjust, but everyone that's retired has told me that I'd love it," she said, adding former Assistant Superintendent of School Operations Randy Martin and Janice Prather, former assistant superintendent of personnel management, have raved about retiring.
Mrs. Hopkins, who will welcome a third grandchild in February, said she plans on traveling and spending time with her grandchildren.
She also will work with members of Delta Kappa Gamma, an honor society of female educators, to write the history of the school district from 1982 to the present.
Mrs. Hopkins's 48 years with the district is the second-longest tenure held by a current employee. Kenneth Dickerson, who currently works as a bus driver, has been employed by the district for more than 50 years.
Mrs. Hopkins will be missed greatly by those who've worked with her over the years.
County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo said Mrs. Hopkins has been instrumental in advancing the district's technology department. He described her as one of the few people who has statewide and national expertise on technology and education.
"It really is bittersweet when somebody who has been so creative and so reliable and who has brought so much energy to our technology program and to our strategic planning efforts finally retires," he said.
He also praised her expertise in updating the district's strategic plan and annual report.
"We will miss her, but her contributions are everywhere throughout the system," he said. "She's certainly someone that everyone from teachers to assistant superintendents have tremendous respect for and will miss working with her on a daily basis."
Dr. Susan Padgett-Harrison, the district's director of assessment, describes Mrs. Hopkins, her supervisor, as a "visionary" with "phenomenal" knowledge of integrating technology in the classroom.
She said Mrs. Hopkins also cared for her employees and always remembered birthdays and visited them in the hospital if they were there.
"Even though she has risen to the top of her profession, she still thinks like a classroom teacher and has the heart of a devoted educator," she said.
Mrs. Hopkins spent 25 years in the classroom, teaching fifth-and eighth-grade English at Canton Elementary School and math at Hickory Flat Elementary School.
From her years in the classroom, Mrs. Hopkins remembers numerous projects completed with her students. She describes herself as a teacher who could never sit still while teaching.
"I just had to be in movement," she said.
Once, she was sitting on her desk and got so excited while teaching, she fell into the trashcan beside it.
"The whole class was completely silent until I started laughing," she said.
One of the blessings of her teaching career, she said, was the strong support parents gave to their children's schools.
In the close-knit community of Hickory Flat, she said, parents would help with school projects, such as selling doughnuts, decorating for fairs and with eighth-grade graduation.
"There was a never day in which I can remember that I didn't want to come to work," she added.
Rebecca Johnston of Canton said Mrs. Hopkins's passion for teaching resonated with students.
Mrs. Hopkins, her fifth- and eighth-grade teacher, was a "breath of fresh air" at Canton Elementary.
She brought many ideas into the school and made learning "innovative and exciting," Mrs. Johnston said.
Once, Mrs. Johnston remembers, Mrs. Hopkins drove five students at a time to the new Lenox Mall to pick out fish for the tank at Canton Elementary.
Mrs. Johnston said Mrs. Hopkins's sense of fashion made quite an impression on female students, as she always wore beautiful dresses.
"She was our Jackie Kennedy," she said, noting she wore one of Mrs. Hopkins's evening dresses for a school play.
Mrs. Johnston also remembers her teacher visiting her at R.T. Jones Hospital when she had to have her appendix removed. Mrs. Hopkins brought an orchid and all of Mrs. Johnston's Valentine's Day cards from her fellow students.
"We weren't just kids in her classroom," she said. "We were people she cared about."
After spending 25 years in the classroom, Mrs. Hopkins was recruited by former county Superintendent of Schools Marguerite Cline to begin integrating technology into classrooms.
Mrs. Hopkins said those first two years were the hardest of her life. She began training elementary school teachers on how to use the new Apple IIe computers. She eventually trained all teachers and students on how to use the computers.
Then, under the leadership of former county Superintendent of Schools Corky Jones, Mrs. Hopkins said the district put five computers in each school in phases.
Today, the department has undergone a transformation, using SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) dollars to purchase instructional technology for students.
It's also implemented the Teach 21 program, which trains teachers on innovated technology for use in the classroom.
Mrs. Hopkins earned her bachelor's degree in education from Memphis State University and her master's in leadership in education and specialist in leadership from the former West Georgia College (now the University of West Georgia).
She lives in Hickory Flat with her husband, Charles Hopkins, also a retired educator; and they have four children, Will Hopkins, Hank Hopkins, Sherry Wallace and Jenny Hopkins and two grandchildren with a third on the way. Both of her daughters also are teachers in the school district.
Mrs. Hopkins attends Mt. Zion Baptist Church and is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma.
As she enters a new chapter in her life, Mrs. Hopkins said she will miss working with the people she's come to see as another family.
She also shared a piece of advice for teachers throughout the district.
"Never expect any two days to be alike, but enjoy every minute of them, except for the paperwork," she said.