Retiring Villa Cresta Elementary School principal Kathy Bishop bid farewell to her students in a unique way Friday morning when she climbed onto the school's roof to lead them in one last dance celebration.
Bishop is no stranger to the gravel roof of the Rader Avenue school—she's climbed up there before, dressed as the school mascot and as the Wicked Witch of the West, as a reward for students meeting fundrasier goals.
"The first time I climbed up there I didn't know what I was going to do," Bishop said. "But we danced and we had fun. I knew I had to do it one last time."
And so she did.
Although Bishop doesn't officially retire until July 1, today was her last day with the students and that, she said, is what she'll miss the most.
"The children ... that part is hard," she said in an interview. "I really, really miss the kids and that’s going to be a hard one for me. I wrote a letter [announcing my retirement] and the letter went home with all the children—well, of course they read it. I walked outside just to say goodbye to the kids that day and they were really upset."
"One little kindergarten student said to me, 'what does that mean, is it like a vacation'," she said. "I didn’t expect that, that they would say you can’t retire."
Before she came to Villa Cresta back in 2004, Bishop served as assistant principal at several Baltimore County schools including Sparrows Point Middle and taught at Seneca Elementary School.
"I love this school—it's truly a community school," Bishop said. "I have parents here volunteering all day and there's a lot of tradition at this school. If you go out in the hall, they have pictures of every graduating class going back to 1950. [People] will say to me 'I went here,' and want to show everybody their picture on the wall."
Bishop said that coming into a school with deep roots wasn't a challenge at all.
"I respect the traditions. It makes our school unique and special," Bishop said.
Bishop said she hopes that she's remembered as a principal who took the time to know her students.
"The children know me, they know who I am. I'm very visible, that’s the most important thing to me: establishing those relationships with the children, not just a figurehead for the school but someone they know and respect."
The outgoing principal has already met with Villa Cresta's new principal, Leslie Dunn (a transfer from Timber Creek Elementary School) and plans to continue working with her through the transition.
And once July 1 rolls around? Bishop, an avid gardener, is planning to spend lots of time with her husband Ted and daughters Amy and Kelly.
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