After spending seven years in Morgan County, Hawkins is a in his eighth year at Indian Creek Middle School.
While many young boys pretend to be Joe Montana orchestrating a fourth quarter drive to win the Super Bowl or Michael Jordan hitting a winning shot at the buzzer to win the NBA championship, Hawkins knew from an early age he wanted to be in the classroom.
"I used to play school with some of the kids in the neighborhood as well as my nieces and nephews," Hawkins recalled. "I would gather them all together, and I would be the teacher. I knew I wanted to be a teacher since I was a child. That was square one."
Hawkins had plenty of good experiences to draw from before graduating from Paine College in Augusta and credits many of his teachers with instilling the desire to become a educator.
But even more so than his resolve in his future as a teacher, Hawkins thought hard before deciding which level of student he wanted to work with.
"I felt like I could better connect with this level of student," said Hawkins referring to middle school students. "I would probably have a difficult time with the younger kids and I certainly would have a harder time with high school students, so I thought this age group was best for me."
As a middle school teacher, Hawkins has taught subjects ranging from math to language arts, but he says he enjoys working with students to grasp difficult scientific concepts.
"Without a doubt, science is my favorite subject to teach," he said. "I actually went to school for math. But when I started teaching, I had to teach science and I liked it more and more."
One of his strengths is his ability to relate to his students. Some of the material he teaches can be difficult even for adults to grasp. As a result, Hawkins is constantly searching for creative ways to help his classes grasp tough concepts.
"The way I design my lessons, for the most part, I try and put myself on the level of my students," Hawkins said. "I ask myself 'what would I want the teacher to do if I wanted to learn this?'"
Hawkins understands the pressure from administrators is always present due to the testing requirements and the push to pass the Criterion Referenced Competency Test. While he admits he is tough on his students, Hawkins also knows middle schoolers need support while preparing for exams.
"When I'm teaching them something that they will be tested on, I make sure they understand they have to learn the material," Hawkins said. "But I also let them know we're going to have fun while we learn the material and I think that helps relieve the pressures of testing."
Preparing for the CRCT is part of every Georgia middle school teacher's focus. Hawkins says he tries to do what he can within the confines of the schedule but admits he has had to change his approach as a result of test preparation.
"What I have found has happened as a result of teaching the students to prepare for the test is that I don't get to do a lot of in-class projects that I would like to do," he said. "Now most of the work on the projects has to be done at home versus in class where they have assistance from me if they need it."
Even though Hawkins misses out on some opportunities to help his students with some projects, he has no complaints. He enjoys teaching, especially at Indian Creek, and his hard work is obvious.
Hawkins operates a tight ship and says his students rarely step out of line. He joked that some of his students refer to him as a drill sergeant, but as the father of two young children, Hawkins is more teddy bear than Brahma bull.
"You have to set standards at the beginning of the school year," Hawkins said. "I believe if you are disciplined, you will learn and if you are distracted you're not going to learn so I try to emphasize from the beginning, the importance of being on your best behavior and doing what you need to do."
Hawkins knows the best way to work with students is to show them the way to be successful. Time and time again he reflects to situations in his past as a useful tool to help students deal with the daily pressures of seventh grade.
"My lessons in what I teach often times come from real life," he said with a grin. "I try to pass on to them that everything is not peaches and cream and it's not going to be good every single days of their lives and they are going to have to cope with things. But they take to heart and understand what I'm saying."
When he's not in the classroom, Hawkins enjoys working around the house and tending to his yard. He says keeping the kudzu from consuming his trees is a fulltime job in its self.
But this summer he plans finally to take a well deserved vacation and do something he's always wanted to do.
"I'm taking my wife on our first cruise and we are looking forward to it," he said with a big smile. "It's our anniversary and we're going to the Bahamas."
Hawkins added it took some convincing, but his wife eventually came around to the idea.
"I've always wanted to go," Hawkins said, "but my wife has been hesitant because she always likes to travel on land.
"But some of her coworkers came back from one and told her how much of a good time they had so she said, 'Hey, let's go for it.'"