A Bittersweet Goodbye: Bryan King Heads Into Retirement After This School Year


King poses with “Fred” the skeleton in his classroom.

As the class of 2023 graduates to start a new chapter of their lives in the spring, Bryan King will be joining them and retiring after 29 years of teaching.

There will be no King standing and laughing outside of 102 during passing periods. He won’t be making the trek from faculty parking to the first floor in shorts during winter. Instead, he will be on his new boat somewhere down south surrounded by far more fish than teenagers. 

This has been the dream for years but now as the days count down it has become real. He leaves behind a legacy in the faculty and students he has made a memorable impact on. 

The story of King starts just 20 minutes away in Natick, MA, where he was raised with two older sisters and a mother passionate about their education.

“I was definitely the slacker of the three of us. And we all grew up in Natick and we all went to college. My mom made sure we all got a college education. She was a big advocate to make sure we found money and took out loans or whatever we had to do to go to college,” King said.

Growing up in a household and community where education was valued had a long-lasting impact on King. Without the support of his family and the community, he may never have started the path to a career in education.

“I think inherently the respect for education was emerging. A couple of my neighbors or good friends are [also] teachers [and] that was kind of my influence,” King said.

King went to college at Bridgewater State for biology and chemistry. He ultimately got his master’s degree in teaching while simultaneously working in the freshman dorms.

His first job out of college was a half-year teaching position at Silver Lake Regional High School where he commuted to coach swimming at Natick where he ultimately taught for two years.

King smiles as he recounts stories of his teaching career and what has gotten him to where he is today.

King came to Hopkinton High School in 1994, each class was about 70 kids and Stephen Simoes had just finished his first year of teaching at HHS. Simoes, like King, was a coach at the time so a connection came to be between the two young teachers.

“He was great because he was another high-energy person. We were a lot younger then and he was very invested in the kids. We had a connection through coaching, you know, he coached swimming and softball, and I coached softball and baseball,” said Simoes. 

Although he doesn’t coach now to spend time with his family. Coaching has been a prominent part of King’s teaching career because of the way he has gotten to connect with students. He has gotten the opportunity to coach what he knows about swimming but also has gotten to try his hand at softball.

“You know I put a lot into it like I do in my classroom, and coaching is such a huge part of high school. Because you see a kid in one light in a class, but when you coach them or coach other kids, it’s a whole different world. coaches spend a lot of time with kids, you get a few hours in the afternoon and evening and bus rides, and yeah. I think it’s a big part of what we do,” said King.

King has not only made connections with students he has coached but has also made lasting impacts on students. One of these students is Ailene Barry, a senior at the high school, who had King during her sophomore year biology class. 

“The first day back at school after COVID was so nerve-racking and honestly awkward, but I remember Mr. King treated the class like it was before the pandemic, cracking jokes and talking to students and just treating everything like normal. It was a hard thing for anyone to do at the time, to act like everything was normal, but it was really refreshing. His vibe rubbed off on all of us, making it a fun environment to be in. It still is one of my favorite classes I’ve ever been in,” said Barry. 

The way King cared about the well-being of students during the time of COVID was something that truly helped many students get through that difficult time. He made such a unique connection with many students like Barry because that’s who he is as a person and teacher.

Simos said, “Well, I think clearly the biggest thing is his connection with a certain population of kids, right? You know, that’s the goal of a school. Every kid needs to have a person they can connect with and an adult they can connect with. And he always had the ability to connect with some kids who really needed it who might have been marginalized for one way or another who for one reason or another might have been struggling”.

A notable story that King recollected about connecting with students away from the classroom was the infamous floor hockey tournament that he and Simoes put on for one year. Both Simoes and King talked about how there would be student teams and faculty teams and how matches would get very competitive at times but it was enjoyed by everyone. 

“That to me is just the epitome of what it is. I mean, we’re all teachers. We’re here all day, but get to run around, and play hard after school. They even wanted to go on Saturdays, the kids loved it. They get to hit us. We might hit them a little bit,” said King.

His commitment to students and the community has not gone unnoticed, especially by Evan Bishop, the principal of Hopkinton High School. Bishop met King when he was a guidance counselor just starting his career at HHS and he has worked closely with him throughout the years. 

 Mr. King is certainly someone that, you know, enjoys being an educator. He loves working with others both in the classroom, but also outside of the classroom. He’s coached a number of sports here throughout his time in Hopkinson. He’s never afraid to kind of take charge and be a leader in different ways.., whether it be within his department or within the union and he is very knowledgeable about his subject matter,” said Bishop. 

Now as retirement looms and a bittersweet ending to a career with more good memories than not, King has thought about it as it has become more real. After being a dedicated teacher and coach who has now taught the kids of students from years past the question is still asked will King be back?

King walks through HHS hall on the way to his classroom that he will leave permanently at the end of the school year.

“Like as I come into retirement, I’m starting to wonder, I mean, people ask, you know, are you gonna go back and be like a permanent sub? And it’s a hard no right now. You know, it’s no lie, my passion is fishing. So I’m still kind of around it a little bit and gotta keep me busy, but I’m not, I’m not eager to jump back in,” said King.

There is no question that King is one of those teachers whose absence will be felt sorely in the years to come. He has been a sounding board for some, a guiding hand for others, and a compassionate person to all. It is special to have and know a teacher who not only is a great teacher but also one who truly enjoys what they do.  

“Everybody knows Mr. King, whether you had him or didn’t. He’s one of those teachers. He’s been here for a long time. He’s seen a lot. He’s been through good times and bad times here and helped us get through it. He’ll certainly be missed,” said Bishop.