Kaitlyn Hopkins couldn’t believe it when she first heard the news.
The job she always wanted was opening and the person who had mentored her and gave her the inspiration to pursue her dreams.
“I was in shock,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins was named the new West High School choir director, taking over the reins of a world-class program that had been led by Kathy Bowen for almost 17 years.
Bowen retired in December, leaving the slot open for someone else to take her spot.
Hopkins jumped at the chance. It was her dream job. She knew Bowen and the school well. She graduated from West High School.
Hopkins was born and raised in Morristown and first learned a love of music as she performed with her family and at church.
“I grew up singing with my family,” she said.
She later started choir in middle school and then a life-changing event happened.
She got to high school and met the choir director, Bowen. While under Bowen’s tutelage, she grew to love singing and music, but beyond that also started thinking of one day becoming a teacher herself.
“I realized I wanted to do what Mrs. Bowen does,” she said.
So, she graduated West High School in 2016 and went to East Tennessee State University. She graduated with a degree in vocal music education. Then late last year while she was working as a student teacher, she received a call from a friend that Bowen was retiring.
Her jaw dropped.
“I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” she said.
Bowen is renowned in the music world and has led her choirs to multiple shows across the United States and even the world.
“She has a legacy here,” Hopkins said. “It would be hard for anyone to follow.”
But Hopkins applied for the job and is now following the legend. She said she plans to continue to follow the path that Bowen first set and continue her legacy, but at the same time start implementing her own.
She is set to be married in June to Logan Younger and she goes to church at Sartain Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Jefferson County.
She said she knows how lucky she is to be able to come home as soon as she got out of college.
“The Lord has blessed me tremendously with this job,” she said. “How many people get to go straight out of college and into their dream job?”