Teaching tech

New lower school teacher brings years of teaching, tech experience to Notre Dame.

In 25 years of working in the Harper Woods, Mich., school district, teacher and tech specialist Andy Hopkins saw much improvement in the kind of technology that was made available to students. He also was responsible for many of those improvements. In fact, under Hopkins' guidance, the district became the first in Wayne County to become a 1:1 device district. 

But he wasn't always a tech guy.

"My career started in Harper Woods as a teacher and I taught there for 25 years," said the lower division's new technology teacher. "During my first 20 years at Harper Woods, I taught 7th-grade social studies as well as 4th grade subjects. But for the last five years there, I was the district’s technology specialist."

In that role, Hopkins, who specializes in Apple computer products, did staff training on iPads and MacBooks, worked with teachers on class projects and helped the IT department set up and maintain devices district-wide. In 2016, he was named a special Digital Innovator by Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which means he was deemed part of a community of PreK-12 educators who are "thought-leaders and classroom change-makers," according to PBS. 

In 2017, Hopkins was named an Apple Distinguished Educator, which means he was one of a only a relative few in the world recognized as K–12 and higher-education pioneers who are using Apple technology to transform teaching and learning.

So it seems Hopkins was a perfect choice this school year to fill the role of technology teacher for Notre Dame's lower school, a notion embraced fully by Principal Diana Atkins.

"I have always said Mary brings us the right candidates for faculty and staff at the time we need them," Atkins said. "This is true with our new technology teacher, Andrew Hopkins. His knowledge and experience with Apple products will help elevate us to the next level in our technology instruction with students. Now, as we embark on becoming an official Apple Distinguished School, he has already shared new ideas and initiatives with students and faculty. I look forward to working with him as we go through this school year and beyond."

Hopkins too is looking forward to the rest of the year at Notre Dame, especially if it's anything like his first month or so on the Pontiac campus.

"Everyone here has been so friendly and supportive to me," said Hopkins, who hold a BS degree in education from Wayne State University and an EdS (education specialist) certification in instructional technology, also from WSU. "It's been a great experience so far."  

He's also appreciative of the many new, different and non-traditional educational opportunities that Notre Dame and its International Baccalaureate curriculum offers to both students and teachers.

"I went into education in the first place to help others," he said. "During my own schooling I was not what you would a call a traditional learner. However, during this time, the only option for learning was the existing traditional environment. Now, in my role as a teacher and technology specialist, I like to create learning environments that help all learners, not just traditional learners." 

Hopkins also appreciates the many creative options that Apple products inherently offer to students.

"I have a lot of experience with Apple products," he said. "and I thoroughly enjoy doing creative activities with the kids and their iPads. They really give them the ability to express themselves in their own voice. I also feel it makes for a much deeper learning experience." 

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org.
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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org