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Portrait of an art teacher

John Bishop retires after 35 years at East Rockaway High School

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John Bishop announced his retired after 35 years as an art teacher at East Rockaway High School. He talked with the Herald about his years there, and what lies ahead for him.

Herald: Where did you grow up?

John Bishop: I lived in East Rockaway until I was 27, and when I got married I moved to Lynbrook. My father was born here 105 years ago. I attended East Rockaway High School, of course, Class of ’68 … and I’ve always been interested in the history of East Rockaway.

H: What did you do after ERHS?

JB: I went to St. Johns for four years, and then I got a job in a private school, which is now St. Anthony’s in Huntington. I taught there when I was doing my student teaching. I came back to East Rockaway High School in ’78, when my first son was born.

H: When did you first become interested in art?

JB: Art is the only thing that has never been out of my life. When I was very young, I remember sitting on my mother’s sofa and doing watercolors of the area around Front Street. I remember the day when I figured out how to add green to the brown to make it look like moss. I’ve been married for a long time, I’ve had a family, I’ve had all the different crises that you go through in families, but art has always remained the same, either teaching it or doing it. I’m very lucky in that, some people don’t have anything that they really love to do. I like my classroom to be like a workshop. Very sloppy, very chaotic at times, but in the end you get what you want.

H: Do you do any artwork outside of teaching?

JB: Well I have a studio. When my three sons were growing up, I didn’t really have time to do very much, but I did do art. I used to do window painting, and signs for the vegetable

store and all that kind of stuff. I worked for a computer place where I used to make these big models of computers out of cardboard, it was art but it was very applied. But in 2003, once when my kids were finished with college and I had time, I did 56 paintings in one summer, little watercolors.

And from that time on I haven’t stopped, I’ve been doing a lot of painting. I have a little business where I do illustration, and I do paintings people’s houses. In Rockville Centre I’ve done a lot of the big Victorian houses. But now I’ve really just been painting my own stuff.

H: Just because you enjoy painting?

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