Walk into Jennifer Hopkins’ classroom at Tidewater Community College’s Chesapeake Campus, and you’ll see students actively listening to a lecture, drawing room schematics with colored pencil or designing a floorplan using AutoCAD software.
Hopkins is the only full-time faculty member for TCC’s interior design program and head of the department. She joined the college in 2009.
A professional architect, Hopkins brings more than 30 years of industry experience to the classroom. Her resume includes work with architecture firms, interior design businesses, engineering firms and as a self-employed designer.
“Because I’ve worked on pretty much every conceivable type of project, I can share experiences and lessons learned with students. I can help them think about how to use resources and work with contractors and architects,” she said.
Hopkins said teaching comes naturally to her as an avid communicator who enjoys speaking in front of client groups.
“I like the opportunity to give students insights into areas they may not have considered before – to help them approach things differently and think outside the box,” she said. “Even having one student say, ‘I never thought about that before,’ is worth it because it translates into creativity on future projects.”
The mother of two, Hopkins is a natural encourager. “We pack a lot into this 2 ½-year program, so it’s important to make connections with students. I’m completely invested in their success.”
“Ms. Hopkins is encouraging and has a very sharp eye. I appreciate her knowledge and know-how, and how encouraging she is,” said student Jeannette Johnson. “She goes above board to make sure we learn and have the tools we need.”
TCC’s interior design student population has grown every semester except one during Hopkins’ time as program head.
Hopkins embraces teaching at the community college because of the diversity of students. “It’s amazing to see how students mesh. The young know the technology, but the older students bring a wealth of knowledge and savvy.”
Hopkins is the faculty advisor for the student chapter of American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), helping to provide portfolio-building activities for students. “Every project brings new challenges, and you have to have the know-how to find out what you don’t know and use your resources,” she said.
“Our ASID and classroom projects are designed to help students plan, create and execute work similar to what they will see on the job.”
In her free time, Hopkins enjoys working out, watching “Survivor” and spending time with family. Hopkins volunteers with Grassfield High School chorus, raises funds for a local dance team and is active in St. Stephens Catholic Church.
Hopkins and her husband, Bill, reside in Chesapeake.