A former Waterloo teacher is moving up in the world, as Kathy Trantham Hopkins recently got her dream job as the executive director of the Perandoe Special Education District.
“This is something that I had always wanted to do,” the 35-year-old said. “I wanted to be in a position to take an active role in decision-making and facilitate any sort of positive outcome for students with special needs.”
The Perandoe Special Education District ensures all children in Monroe and Randolph counties receive a free and appropriate education as prescribed by law.
It provides a variety of special education services to area school districts including those in Waterloo, Valmeyer and Red Bud.
Trantham Hopkins, who is married to Columbia police officer Zack Hopkins, has been in education for over 10 years.
She has spent the last seven years teaching special education at Waterloo High School.
“I really enjoyed it,” she said. “I thought that was a great place to have a career. That district always felt very supportive. I think they do a really great job.”
She said her experience in Waterloo will prove especially helpful in her new role because she served as the special education department chair for five years.
“I garnered some experience and some responsibilities that will help me,” Trantham Hopkins said. “I’ve worked really closely with our administration there.”
She also has a master’s degree in school administration and Professional Educator’s License Administrative Endorsement as a Director of Special Education from the Illinois State Board of Education, both of which will most likely prove useful in her new job.
As executive director, a position she started in on Monday, Trantham Hopkins said she will continue pursuing her passion.
“I have a real heart for students, especially those who walk down a path that has a few bumps in the road or might just take a little guidance to make it to their destination,” she explained. “So often I think people need just a little bit of motivation to make sure that those kids aren’t left behind. I really think every kid can, it’s just our job to figure out how they can.”
Trantham Hopkins does not yet have any concrete plans for how she will do that because she wants to get acclimated to her new workplace first.
“I really admire the job (former executive director) Carol Root has done, and I really want to get my feet wet before I contemplate any major changes,” she said. “I have enthusiasm and willingness to institute change when its needed. My major goal is to make sure that I’m in a position to motivate others.”