When you think about Paul Van Avery, it’s hard to determine whether the Fort Plain Central School District is at the center of his heart, or whether he is the heart of the district. Paul has been part of the school community from kindergarten through his entire career, beginning as a cleaner and advancing to Director of Facilities III, a position from which he will soon retire.
Humble, hardworking and dedicated, Paul will be dearly missed, and often thought of, as he embarks upon his life’s next chapter.
At their Feb. 15 meeting, the Fort Plain Board of Education accepted Paul’s request to retire on April 28. “Mr. Van Avery has proudly served our district for 46 years,” the Board noted. “His wealth of knowledge of all things buildings and grounds, as well as the history of our district, will be greatly missed.”
“I have been a member of the Fort Plain Central School from kindergarten through graduation in 1976, with a short stint as a farmhand (that is where you learn about work), and then started my career in January 1977 as a cleaner, in the custodial family, under my second father, Harry Hoag,” Paul wrote in his retirement letter.
“[Harry Hoag] took me under his wing and taught me much about the job and the district and our fierce loyalty, ‘Do or die for Fort Plain High’,” Paul said. He subbed for Harry when Harry was ill and he credited past superintendent John Matello and business official Carl Rockefeller – his “third father” – as well as the district’s veteran staff, for supporting, training and preparing him early on for success. “I have been on deck since then trying to maintain the long tradition of excellence established by Harry and his father, with the help of all,” Paul said.
He noted that he has “served with many superintendents, board members, principals, faculty, staff, taxpayers and mostly the students, with duty and honor which I was taught by all of my fathers, especially my number one father, Alfred Van Avery, Jr., and mother, Virginia Van Avery, who are also my heroes, with an assist from my role model John Wayne.
“My loyalty and life belong to the Fort Plain Central School District, we are one,” Paul said. “I have enjoyed and relished my time with the Fort Plain Central School District and wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Time to do my John Wayne Cavalry routine and ride off into the sunset. Thank you all for the opportunity to serve.”
Thank you, Mr. Van Avery!