Jessie Karner, Former HHS Student, Now Teacher


Photo by Caroline DeSimone

Jessie Karner working on her computer. Karner is dressed in her pajamas to show some spirit during Spirit Week. “People come back to Hopkinton because of the community we have. We know that when we walk in here, people care about each other,” Karner said. (DeSimone)

There are over 100 faculty members at Hopkinton High School. About 10% of those faculty members are alumni. Almost every department has at least one member who attended the high school. Jessie Karner is a member of that alumni club.

Karner is currently an English teacher in the tutoring center, coach of the football, wrestling, and softball teams, and advisor to the UNITE club, but before any of that, she was a student.

Before the start of sixth grade, Karner’s parents made the decision to move to Hopkinton. Originally, she was not a fan of the move, what kid wants to move schools right before the start of middle school? Although, Karner’s parents were right because she immediately fell in love with the town.

Karner played volleyball her freshman and sophomore years, then was a stage manager for plays and musicals her junior and senior years, while playing on the softball team all four years of high school. Karner has managed the wrestling team since 2007.

Continuing her education at Bridgewater State University, Karner originally wanted to become an adjustment counselor. She soon found her love for English and became an English and psychology double major.

After BSU, Karner worked at Worcester Polytechnic Institute for six years as an assistant director of academic advising helping students transition from high school to college.

“But I realized I really missed English. So I took my MTELs and made the transition back to teaching,” Karner said.

“When the teaching position came up, I was like, “you’re telling me that I can teach and coach in this town?’” Karner said.

Karner now works in the tutoring center. She does academic planning and teaching, and she works one on one with students.

“It’s the best of all the worlds,” Karner said.

Stepping back into the school as a teacher was an adjustment for Karner. Some of her high school teachers, like Michael Hamilton, Steve Simoes, and Brett Mulvey (the list goes on), are now her colleagues. Karner also had current Principal Evan Bishop as her guidance counselor.

“I went from being a volunteer in a lot of ways, so it was readjusting and recalibrating with some of those students to “ok now I am a professional who works here.” So that was a challenge but exciting for the most part,” Karner said.

Once Karner returned to the school, she dove right back into the spirit of the school. She can be seen coaching multiple sports or when she is not coaching, always cheering on from the sidelines.

Karner brings a smile to all her students, players, and colleagues with her radiant smile and optimistic energy.

“I have learned so much from Ms. Karner even in the short time she has coached me. I have learned the importance of supporting my teammates on and off the field and the importance of a positive attitude,” softball senior captain, Kelsea McCoy said.

Additionally, Karner now works with Brian Prescott and Mark Sanborn whom she graduated with in the class of 2008.

“It’s just kind of cool to see how many of us have made our way back here, especially with Coach Sanborn and Coach Prescott. We are on the same coaching staff so we make a lot of jokes about that,” Karner said.

“Whether it was as classmates back in the day or now as coworkers at HHS, I’ve always thought of Jessie Karner as one of the most respectful, genuine and down to earth individuals. She’s not only an amazing teacher and coach, but more importantly just a great person who has always put the wants and needs of others before her own,” Sanborn said.

When it comes to history, Karner was a part of the very first girls football game where girls from the junior class play a flag football game against girls from the senior class.

The game has evolved and has become more and more popular each year. Now, Karner is coaching the junior girls alongside Prescott this year and competing against Sanborn who is coaching the seniors.

Karner is also looking forward to this year’s pep rally. Last year was her first returning as a teacher, and she experienced a modified pep rally due to COVID-19. She is excited to see how the event has evolved over the years.

When it comes to traditions, Karner said some have stopped and some she wished were continued

“I feel like some of the fan sections are a little different. People get zoned out really easily during intense moments mostly at football and volleyball games. I just miss some of that intensity”.

Looking towards the future, Karner plans to stay in Hopkinton.

“In a dream world. I am here for the long haul,” Karner said.

Karner is very thankful for the teaching and coaching roles she currently has at the high school. She has thought about dabbling with special education as well as administrative work, but she does not know if she wants to leave the classroom just yet.

Karner made it clear she returned to Hopkinton to give back to her town, her happy place.

“People come back to Hopkinton because of the community we have. We know that when we walk in here, people care about each other. I feel like if you talk to a staff member or student, they can name one person who cares about them,” Karner said.

It is that sense of community that draws alumni like Karner or Prescott or Sanborn to return and refuel the town.