After working at the Montcalm Area Career Center for more than 38 years, Paula Fortino will retire at the end of this school year.
Fortino, the associate superintendent for career technical education and principal at the Montcalm Area Career Center, has worked at the center since 1974 and has worked her way up through the ranks.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Paula for the last five years,” Montcalm Area Intermediate School District (MAISD) Superintendent Scott Koenigsknecht said. “She is an outstanding administrator.”
Fortino said one of the biggest changes to take place while working at the center was watching the programs come together under one building. She explained when she first started, the programs were held at different places around the county. In 1979, the career center building was built.
“I enjoyed seeing it all come together,” said Fortino, noting that she was part of the design process.
Not only was she part of that stepping stone during her career, but in 1981 she became the center’s first marketing teacher.
She held the marketing teacher position for 11 years, followed by moving into the principal position, which she held for 19 years.
“It has been a wonderful and rewarding job,” Fortino said. “There are many things I am going to miss. It has been a great place to work.”
The things she is going to miss the most after retiring are students and staff. She said the employees have been delightful and she cannot say enough about them.
“She has established strong relationships with our local school districts as well as Montcalm Community College,” Koenigsknecht said. “She is very well respected locally, regionally and on a statewide basis.”
After she retires, Fortino said she has plans to travel with her husband. She is also looking forward to do some gardening.
“The success of our programs and the students in them are a direct result of her leadership skills and dedication career and technical education,” Koenigsknecht said. “She has provided outstanding service to the MAISD and will be sorely missed.”
Fortino’s last day will be June 30. Celena Mills, career technical education curriculum consultant, will fill Fortino’s position.
“She is going to grow and be a good leader,” Fortino said of Mills. “My advice to her is take each day as it comes. There is always tomorrow.”
Fortino, along with special education teacher E.J Paas and para-educator Sharon Yanke, will be honored by MAISD for retiring.
That event will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Helen Hamler Admini-stration Building.