This article has been updated to clarify Hobson’s work history with Springdale Public Schools.

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) For most of us, choosing a career takes some time. That wasn’t the case for Judy Hobson.

“It’s always been an interest of mine to work with students who didn’t have the same opportunities,” Hobson said.

Following in the footsteps of her parents and grandparents, Hobson got into education. She started as a classroom teacher with Springdale Public Schools in 1968, and then became an assistant principal.  In 1995, she became involved with the district’s English as a Second Language program.

“In 1995, they started the ESL program and I was the first coordinator of it,” Hobson said.

For more than a decade, Hobson helped create an ESL program for Arkansas’ largest school district.

“I think our population was about 400 or 500 at that time,” Hobson said. “So, when I retired in 2007 we had grown 1,200 percent.”

And that’s just her time inside of classrooms. In the ’90s Hobson helped reactivate ARKTESOL (Arkansas Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages), connecting teachers to ESL experts.

“Teachers are only growing in knowledge and desire to make a difference for these students and realizing you can’t just be a good teacher, you’ve got to be more than that,” Hobson said.

She’s served on the board almost every year since it started back up, helping give out scholarships to graduating seniors who have been or are currently English learners.

“We have some that are graduating we’ve got some at MIT,” Hobson said. “Some that are in their Masters’ program now.”

Hobson’s desire to improve the education system never diminished even when tragedy struck.

Hobson, a single working mother, lost her daughter, who was also a teacher, to cancer nine years ago.

“if I had not had people that I had working with me and supporting I would not have been able to done what I did,” Hobson said.

It’s no doubt Hobson’s blazed a trail, leaving a path for others like her friend Mary Collins. Collins teaches ESL for Fayetteville Schools.

“If you think about six to seven thousand teachers and how many children that they have impacted based on the training that Judy provided and help provide, she has touched lives all across the state,” Collins said.

After reflecting on her 20 plus years of being involved with Springdale Public Schools, Hobson’s proudest accomplishment was starting and keeping the ESL academy going, getting teachers excited about teaching ESL, and proving learning is for all.

“I had someone tell me one time that I didn’t have to speak their language, that they could read my thoughts with my eyes the way I talked to them – the way I looked at the families,” Hobson said.