For most people, the words textbooks and astronomy relate to a class they once took in college, but for Thomas Hopkins they represent two areas of his work.
Hopkins is the Textbook Coordinator and Records Management Officer at the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District. It’s his duty to ensure that all students and classrooms in the district have enough books to satisfy their educational needs. On any given day, he is in charge of approximately 128,000 books.
There is rarely a dull moment. Even in the summer, when students are not in their classrooms, he is hard at work preparing for the new school year.
To keep up with the newest trends in accessing textbooks, Hopkins uses his interest in technology to help him develop new ideas for the district. His technological curiosity is something he has held for years. He can recall the affect it had on his schoolwork.
“I’ve always been interested in technology,” said Hopkins. “ When I was in college, I was one of the few students who had a computer and modem. Instead of going to school to study, everyone would come to my house to use the computer.”
Besides technology, Hopkins spends his time studying astronomy and participating in astrophotography. He photographs galaxies, stars and constellation, and calculates the best way to capture them.
“I have one picture of the Milky Way that was kind of hard to get,” said Hopkins. “We had to drive out into the country. That photo stands out.”
He has been active in astrophotography for the past 19 years, and has collected enough photos to provide a number of decorations for his home and office.
To share his love of the constellations, Hopkins offers his time to the HCISD campuses and speaks to students about astronomy. He lets them ask any questions they may have about the hobby, and shows them photos he has taken of the stars above.
“The students love it,” said Hopkins. “They are simply engrossed by looking at the pictures.”
Hopkins has been with HCISD for 24 years, and looks forward to the challenge that everyday brings, he said.