For decades, when anyone thought “Westford gym teacher,” the first answer was likely to be “Frank Bishop.” On Saturday, Bishop was honored in a ceremony at the Nabnasset School, where the school’s gymnasium was officially rechristened in his honor.
Bishop became Westford’s elementary school physical education teacher in 1965, soon shifting between the Frost, Cameron and Sargent Schools and teaching over 40 classes per week.
By the 1980s, Bishop became a staple at the Nabnasset School, where he remained until 2005. For the past several decades, Bishop has also helped organize Special Olympics events in the Westford area as well as a camp at what is now the Stony Brook Conservation Land.
He continued to help organize those camps until last year, but after his retirement from Nabnasset he still remained involved as a teacher, continuing to serve as a substitute in Merrimack, NH to the present day.
Three generations of the Bishop family were on hand for the ceremony as well as several generations of his students and local dignitaries.
“When (Westford Academy Principal) Jim Antonelli called me and told me this was happening, tears came running down my face,” said Bishop.
Almost everyone in the audience had fond memories from their experiences with Bishop, with Bishop spending over half an hour sharing his memories of Westford as well as pointing out a significant number of former students in the audience and sharing his memories of teaching them.
One of those students was Stephanie Checchi of North Main Street. Checchi was just seven years old when she had Bishop as a teacher.
“He had an incredible way of bringing out the love and joy and happiness of everything that little kids are and celebrate that together,” she said. “He always just brought the best of us and we had so much fun.”
The ceremony took place thanks to a vote by Annual Town Meeting in March, where voters unanimously approved the name change of the gymnasium.