By: Keegan Douglass
After 12 years of working with few resources, moving from room to room, and helping young adults discover what life in the real world is like, math teacher Mr. James Hawkins says farewell to his career at Attleboro High School (AHS).
“The thing that I love about AHS is how we are able to do so much with so little. Not just in the sense of MCAS [Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System], but in everything from clubs to teachers doing wild experiments,” said Hawkins, adding, “When I first applied to AHS, I found that the interviewer wanted to know if I had worked in the community rather than whether I had any former job experience.”
Hawkins earned his bachelor’s degree in business at Colby College in Waterville, ME. Then at the age of 40 he enrolled at Providence R.I. College where he earned his master’s in Business Administration (MBA).
“Mr. Hawkins is one of my favorite teachers ever. I am sure that he is my favorite math teacher because he always made sure that I knew the material,” said junior Marc Bergeron, adding, “His jokes are some of the funniest I’ve heard from a teacher.”
In the early days of Hawkins’ career, he didn’t do anything related to teaching. His jobs include owning a gas station, managing an auto body shop, and being a salesman. This is the kind of real-life experience which is essential for any teacher to succeed.
“I ended up teaching financial literacy at AHS because it’s what I’m good at and I’m qualified for it,” said Hawkins, adding, “I like to spend more time teaching students about planning rather than finance because it is a skill essential for succeeding in the real world.”
In addition to financial literacy, Hawkins also taught a college prep geometry class for freshmen and sophomores. “I was never lost when I took Mr. Hawkins’ geometry class. He always made sure I knew what was happening,” said junior Adam Johnson.
“Mr. Hawkins is so sweet. Even though I only have him as my advisor, I can tell that he treats his students very well,” said freshman Mackenzie Inammoli.
As a hobby, Hawkins runs The Ironman triathlon created by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC). Participants start with a 2.4-mile swim, then go to a 112-mile bicycle ride, and end with a marathon of 26.2-mile. It is held all over the world, the most local is in Webster, Mass.
“Mr. Hawkins is amazing when it comes to events such as the Rome Boulevard Road Race,” said English teacher Ms. Adeline Bee, adding, “He works incredibly hard as liaison for the MTA, where he educates people on candidates and political issues.”
The Rome Boulevard Road Race is a five-mile run/walk from which both starts and ends at AHS. The event is primarily run by students and teachers and the proceeds go to the school’s athletics, school improvement, and any programs which benefit the students.
“Mr. Hawkins transcends the classroom. He works tirelessly to ensure the Rome Boulevard Race’s success and that the school is financially stable,” said Educational Diagnostician Mrs. Barbara Cecere.
Hawkins not only helps with community activities and the welfare of his students in school, but also the families of the students whom he teaches.
“Hawkins is one of the most caring educators I have worked with in the past 27 years. Outside of the class room, he lives the life of the lessons we want our students to learn. There was one instance where there was a family going through a devastating crisis and Mr. Hawkins came ready to help with donations, not only of money, but of hard work and time,” said AHS principal Bill Runey. He added, “We want our students to learn everything they can in the curriculum and Mr. Hawkins lives the curriculum of life.”
Although Hawkins is retiring, he is not going to shy away from doing what he loves. He will continue doing the Ironman triathlon, which he has been doing for the past 10 years.
“Mr. Hawkins is a very supportive and positive person. He worked hard for each and every one of his students and knew them all on a personal level. He is just a very nice man,” said senior Andria Rodriguez.
Everyone who has worked with Hawkins agrees about his work ethic and how he exemplifies community leadership.
“Really, Mr. Hawkins is a hard working teacher who cares deeply for all of his students, and is an advocate for the rights of teachers. His longstanding participation with community events such as the Rome Boulevard Road Race only illuminates his interest and leadership in Attleboro’s community,” said math department head Ms. Patricia Izzi.
Since the early 80s, Hawkins has lived in Attleboro, Mass. He will continue living here as he has already received a part-time job with the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), so he can continue his career in education.
“Mr. Hawkins works hard constantly. The amount of time and energy he puts into both his teaching and the events he works on is just amazing,” said math teacher Mr. Michael Brother.
Hawkins will be working as a Senate District Coordinator (SDC), meaning that he will be lobbying on the behalf of education, informing them about how their decisions affect students and teachers. Those are some of the politicians who decide whether or not standardized testing will determine if a student graduates or not.
“I wanted to work with children rather than adults because you’ll always end up seeing more sincerity in younger people. Children almost never say the right thing, but when they speak you know that what they’re saying is genuine. All in all, I love being able to work with children,” said Hawkins.