ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Cardboard boxes and plastic crates covered every desk in Gretchen Hopkins' second grade class at O'Malley Elementary School Friday and Saturday as the retiring teacher tried to find new homes for three decades worth of teaching supplies.
"So much of it is handmade. It doesn't look fancy. It's not packaged. So I'm just kind of walking people through 'what do you need,'' Hopkins said. "I've king of been passing the baton to my second grade partner, like 'OK, here's everything for this science unit, or here's the homemade stuff for the nature walk."
While the supplies Hopkins amassed over her three decades teaching at seven schools across town will continue to help students in other classrooms, they were not how Hopkins made her biggest impact.
"People always say you should be an Ignite teacher, you should be a principal. But I don't want that. I want to build community," Hopkins said. "I love teaching the social emotional skills of 'how do you get along,' and 'conflict's normal,' and 'how do you get over your conflict.'"
Hopkins' impact went beyond the students in her class.
"When you are having that down day or when you're feeling frustrated she will come in and give you a little quote or pat your shoulder. She just knows how to reach each and every one of us how we need it," Michelle Crow, administrative assistant at O'Malley Elementary said.
Hopkins says that in retirement she plans on becoming a pilates level 2 instructor and also continue education work through avenues outside of the public schools.
"I'm not going to quit contributing to the well being of children," Hopkins said. "That's why I'm on planet Earth."
Copyright 2019 KTUU. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.