Golden Apple awarded to Albuquerque P.E. teacher working with special needs kids

Pita Hopkins
Pita Hopkins

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – KRQE News 13 continues to profile this year’s Golden Apple recipients with an Albuquerque teacher who found her calling among children with special needs.

Pita Hopkins loves her job. She teaches adapted P.E. to special needs students at Chaparral and Painted Sky Elementary Schools.

When she started teaching, P.E. wasn’t her first choice

“I had fought going into P.E. because I thought that’s a major for people who can’t do the other subjects,” Hopkins said. “I finally quit fighting it and said OK, let’s do that, and there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t loved my job since.”

Teaching the same students throughout elementary means she gets close to her students and their parents.

“That has been what I love about my job, being able to establish those relationships,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins also coaches Special Olympics and recruits kids from her classes to compete.

“They become more than just students, they become like family, and it’s ongoing, it just keeps growing and growing, it doesn’t stop,” she said.

They stay in touch long after they leave elementary school.

“When I see a little step that they have accomplished that’s what’s exciting to me and it doesn’t happen all the time, but when it happens, that’s the joy,” Hopkins said.

She’ll be the first to tell you, she is not alone in her achievements.

“To know that it’s being acknowledged that’s special because there are so many teachers out there who are doing what I’m doing, and aren’t getting kudos for that, so it’s special,” said Hopkins.

Hopkins is also proud to help families apply for the Developmental Disabilities Waiver that helps them get the support they need.

If you know an outstanding high school teacher, the Golden Apple Foundation is accepting nominations through April 29th.

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