Dr. Charles Hopson, 54, former superintendent of the Pulaski County School District, passed away yesterday from illness.
Dr. Hopson was superintendent of the district from July, 2010, to June, 2011. He was currently working for the Houston Independent School District as the high school improvement officer.
An Arkansas native, Dr. Hopson returned here after working for two decades in the Portland Public School District in Oregon. As a respected principal at a middle school and high school in Portland, Dr. Hopson implemented changes that produced increases in achievement and decreases in suspensions and expulsions. His colleagues there praised his instincts in dealing with people and skills in encouraging open lines of communication. He went on to become deputy superintendent, first overseeing high schools and eventually all districtwide programs. Dr. Hopson was recruited by the Portland School District in 1989 after becoming principal in Helena, Ark., at age 26. He began his teaching career in the Guy-Perkins School District in Faulkner County, then worked for two years as a special education teacher at the former Northwood Junior High in PCSSD.
Dr. Hopson graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 1976 with a bachelor degree in elementary education and held a master’s in school administration from that school. He obtained a doctorate degree in educational policy and management from the University of Oregon.
Dr. Hopson grew up near Prescott, Arkansas. He credited his parents, the late Charles H. Hopson and Lucy Hopson, with teaching him the value of working hard to achieve goals and overcome obstacles. His father was a World War II veteran and minister. Dr. Hopson was married to the former Patricia Heard of Helena, Ark., who works as a school media specialist in Portland. They have one daughter who attends college in Arkansas.
Dr. Hopson often said he returned to Arkansas as superintendent to give back to a district and state that had provided him so much. He was dedicated to putting the focus on educating children and ensuring equity in the opportunities provided to all students.
Carole Smith, Portland superintendent, said, “Charles was a strong and thoughtful leader with a deep commitment to equity and the betterment of all students. I am keeping in my mind today his warm and ready smile.”
Deborah Roush, PCSSD’s spokesperson, said, “Most importantly, Dr. Hopson was student-focused. He started most days working for our district in a school, listening to concerns so he could affect change. He appreciated the hard work of our teachers and absolutely loved our students.
“Many of us at PCSSD will remember him for his can-do spirit – always ending his communications to employees with his tagline ‘We can. We will. We must,’” Roush said.