McKinley School principal retires
Some of his fond memories at McKinley School include Christmas programs, special fun assemblies and Veterans Day assemblies where a search and rescue helicopter from the Fallon Naval Air station would come and land at the school.
Students had the opportunity to tour the helicopter and then the crew would host a search and rescue assembly.
McKinley School students have the opportunity to read to their principal and Bishop’s office door features pictures the students make him, which he said makes the whole day.
Bishop began his teaching career in 1971. He attended California State University, Chico majoring in history and anthropology and sort of fell into a teaching career.
While at Chico State, Bishop said he was offered a chance to come to Lassen County and student teach at Johnstonville School for $100 a month.
Bishop said $100 a month sounded pretty good and it seemed like a challenge to come to a new climate so Bishop thought he’d check it out.
What Bishop found was indeed different than what he was used to. Bishop, who grew up in East Oakland, said the students at Johnstonville School were open and friendly, more aware of outdoor activities and even brought baby lambs to school.
The first time Bishop went hunting, he said a sixth-grade student took him.
“It was real different than what I was used to, but I got used to it and enjoyed it.
Bishop student-taught for one year and then stayed an additional 12 years at Johnstonville School teaching fourth, fifth and sixth grades.
He then took a teaching job at Diamond View School and then took a job as vice principal.
“It just sort of happened,” said Bishop of getting into administration.
He said administration was something he was interested in and he received an administration credential at the University of Nevada, Reno. When he went to Diamond View, Bishop said the vice principal job came open and he decided to give it a try.
As vice principal, Bishop kept busy attending school dances and basketball games and helping students get through junior high issues they thought were so serious, but are normal life changes that we’ve been through.
Bishop said the issues were taken seriously, but he would tell the students that three to four years from now they would look back on some of the issues and laugh about them.
After being at Diamond View for 12 years, Bishop then became McKinley School’s principal and Bishop said the younger students are a lot more fun.
He said the students say the darndest things and are very honest sharing exactly how they are feeling.
As a principal, Bishop tries to be the students’ friend. He tries to help students work out problems that arise now, such as self-esteem issues, before the students get older.
Some of the students come from unstable homes and Bishop said they need to have adults who are there and they can trust.
Although there are times, Bishop said he does have to be the disciplinarian and it’s difficult.
As he looks back over his career, Bishop notes some of the highlights.
While at Johnstonville, Bishop said the highlight was being with rural students and seeing their life from their point of view. He also said Johnstonville School is a very family oriented place and Bishop got to meet a lot of the students’ families.
At Diamond View, Bishop said he enjoyed all of the social activities. He also started the Straight Talk on Prison (STOP) program, taking students who were having behavioral problems out to talk with inmates at the California Correctional Center.
The STOP program wasn’t a scare tactic, Bishop said, but it made students aware of their choices and that prison wasn’t a place they wanted to be.
Students and the inmates would talk about life, family and getting along with people.
Bishop said students talked with inmates who were in prison for life and who would tell students, “You don’t want to continue on the road you’re on. You don’t want to be in prison. Make wise choices.”
The program ran for seven years and during that time, Bishop said not one parent complained because they knew their child needed help they couldn’t provide.
Bishop said he has been asked to start the program again and it is something he is looking at doing down the road.
Being at McKinley School, Bishop said he has started seeing children of former students and Bishop said he can look into the children’s faces and see their parents.
Bishop made sure he was there for the students, but sometimes the role was reversed and it was the students who encouraged their principal. Bishop said students know if he is down and will ask if he’s OK; then they usually invite him to play kickball or tetherball or just hold his hand as they walk around the playground and tell him everything is going to be all right.
When he retires, Bishop plans to stay busy and has several options he is looking at. He and his wife Tina, who teaches at Lassen Community College, plan to stay in the area for several more years at least.
After he retires, Bishop said he hopes students remember him as someone they trusted, someone who was their friend and did his best to help them.
“If a student could say, ‘he was always there for me’ that would be the biggest compliment,” Bishop said.
Bishop said he has enjoyed his time working here and Lassen County is part of his life.
“I hope I made a difference with some people. I know the little kids made a difference with me,” he said.
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