Evan Bishop is a father of two, and the principal of Hopkinton High School. He can often be seen on the sidelines at games and high-fiving kids as they arrive for the school day.
But there’s more to Mr. Bishop than the public usually sees. I sat down with Evan to learn about his upbringing, what inspired him to be an educator, and to share the opportunities and challenges Hopkinton High School faces.
Where did you grow up, and what was your family like? I grew up in Burlington, Massachusetts. My mother was an educator. My father sold insurance for a number of different companies. I have an older brother who went to Holy Cross; now he’s an editor for the Washington Post. I had a very happy childhood and I always admired my mother’s work in education. I always thought that maybe that was the direction I wanted to go in, but then my dad always said “you gotta make some money.” So I always felt that push and pull.
What is your wife’s name, and how did you meet? My wife’s name’s Lindsay and we met at Fairfield University. We always tell the story that we met in rehab, as she was a soccer player, and I played football and broke my hand the first game of my senior year. She’d torn her ACL, and I had seen her at our first session in the training room. From then on I tried to make sure that I put my name on the same list next time that we were scheduled for rehab together.
When did you know you wanted to be an educator? I played football in college and had some aspirations of playing football after, which is silly to think about now. I got hurt my senior year, and that was the first time I actually had to think to myself: what do I want to do with my life? There wasn’t any subject that popped up, but I liked helping people and being involved in people’s lives. So I started my career as a guidance counselor and was fortunate to land a job at Hopkinton High.
What made you make the jump from guidance counselor to principal? Ultimately, I thought that I would be totally happy here being a varsity football coach and a school counselor for years to come. And then the football job came open, and I went for it, and didn’t get it. It was kind of an opportunity for me to reflect: what else should I be thinking about? Do I want to stay in this role? Do I want to try something different? I ended up thinking that in Administration I might be able to make a broader impact.
What is the biggest challenge facing Hopkinton High today and over the next few years? I guess the biggest one that pops out is how big we’re getting as a school community. We’re in a situation where, not only here, but in all the buildings, there is a need for increased space. Going through the budget process—that’s obviously a big concern for the community—it’s a lot of money.
I also think the overall stress level of students in a community like Hopkinton is concerning. There’s a lot of pressure to get into that best school. I worry that students don’t take into consideration their mental health when signing up for classes.We’re trying to do some education up front to let students know that they don’t need to take four, 5, or 6 AP courses to get into college. There are other things students can do to showcase their talents and skills. And I think we were making some good progress on this. That’s where the idea for the Flex Block came from. We asked ourselves what we could do during the school day to lower the flame a little bit and let students and staff recharge. We also adjusted the school hours to make it a later start for high schoolers.
What is especially unique about Hopkinton High School? The enthusiasm that the students have for all types of things here. I think we have so many good things going on from robotics, to art, to music, to athletics, to more than 50 clubs. I think that’s unique and special in its own way in terms of welcoming everybody into the different things we have to offer here.
Hopkinton Schools are #286 in per-pupil spending in the Commonwealth, but it consistently ranks as the second or third best school district in terms of test scores. How is it you are able to do so much more with less? To me, it’s twofold. I think we have tremendous educators here that go above and beyond for our students; they work hard during the school day, after hours on the weekends, and put everything into it. So they do a lot with not as much as some of these other schools. If you hire the right people, then you can be confident in what’s going on in those classrooms. They love working here because they are driven by the outcome.
I also think we are fortunate to live in a community where education is a priority. Kids come to school ready to learn, and they want to learn, and they want to be part of this. I think we have a pretty special culture here. Generally speaking, everybody’s very supportive of one another and they care about doing well. I do think that there’s something special about this high school that people want to be a part of.
What is something that you wish people in the community knew more about in terms of the high school? One thing I’m particularly proud of is the work that we’re doing with social emotional learning; adding Flex Block and the later start time is helping students find a better balance.
The other thing that we’ve done is try to add additional classes that students might be interested in. We add 3-5 different electives every year. Last year, we added a hands-on skills class. We’ve added different AP classes. We’ve added a Passages class, which is more like life skills: How to plan a trip, how to change a tire. I survey students a lot to get their feedback. So with the variety of electives, kids have a choice. We constantly push ourselves to offer classes that kids will want to take here.
How is your podcast going, and how did it get started? I was looking for different ways to get information out to the community and we came up with 90 Hayden Rowe, the podcast. One piece of feedback I’ve received over my time as principal is the importance of having the community involved in decision making, and getting them involved in what’s going on in the school.
What was the best and worst part of yesterday? I have a student that is an underclassman here who I have a very good relationship with. We have a good conversation every day when he walks by me, and he told me he drew a portrait of me in his art class, and gave it to me yesterday. So that kind of reminds me of why we do what we do and the connections that we build.
In this role, a lot happens in a given day. This might not be the answer you’re looking for, but my kids were healthy; we had a nice dinner last night. So even with the things that stress me out, it’s not a bad day if everyone’s healthy and happy. Every day is different and that’s the part of the job I like the most. I have no idea what the day is going to bringand that does make it fun, challenging, and hard.
What is the last book you read? I like to do a ping pong of reading a book more for self-help and the work that I do, and then a book for pleasure. The last book that I read was the new book by Tony Maserati, titled This is Our City. It’s a snapshot of Boston sports over the last 20 years. And the book before that—it’s called The Culture Code. It talks a about how to build great teams. Coming out of Covid, everybody was on their own and separate from one other so I’m working hard to rebuild that culture and team chemistry. If you have happy teachers then you’ll have happy classrooms.
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? Sorry I took away your hair so young!
Olivia Scalora is a Junior at Hopkinton High School.
A very well written and well organized article. Olivia Scalora showed a mature and thoughtful style. She has written a wonderful essay that showcased the humanity and humor of Evan Bishop. Kudos to the author and her subject.
Liv – i absolutely loved this article of yours. Your questions were very well thought out and you provided your readers the opportunity to get to know Mr. Bishop as both a person and our Principal. I’m so proud of you!