‘Leaving the school family is going to be tough’

Krystle Wagner • Jun 19, 2017 at 8:00 AM

As the flag lowered during Friday’s ceremony ending the school year, Ferry Elementary School Principal Steve Avram reflected on the year they’ve had together as a Falcon family.

After seven years as the principal for Ferry and Voyager schools, and 17 years with Grand Haven Area Public Schools, Avram is retiring.

On Friday, members of the American Legion Charles A. Conklin Post 28 presented Avram with the school’s flag in recognition of his years in the U.S. Army and his contributions to Grand Haven students.

“This flag is yours to have with our grateful appreciation,” said past-Post Cmdr. Dave Carlson.

Avram, 51, said he was inspired to join the education field after seeing “exceptional teaching” from his drill instructors in the Army National Guard. He said they were motivational and professional.

Within days after graduating from high school in 1984, Avram went to Fort Benning, Georgia, and then graduated from infantry school that August.

Avram, whose dad served in the U.S. Navy, said he enjoyed his freedoms and felt compelled to serve in the military.

After college, he worked as a part-time teacher for a Rockford school and part-time at Kenowa Hills. Six weeks into that first school year, Avram’s unit was deployed to serve in Desert Shield and Desert Storm for nearly a year.

In 1991, Avram was hired full-time at an alternative high school in Grand Rapids, where he taught for more than eight years. He then served as principal of Grand Haven’s Elliot School, then Central High School. Avram also served as assistant principal at Grand Haven High School before moving to Ferry and Voyager.

While working as a teacher and then principal, Avram continued serving in the military. After more than 21 years, he retired from the Army National Guard in December 2012.

Looking ahead, Avram plans to reside at his family’s cottage on Houghton Lake. He and his wife, Lisa, are in the early stages of buying the convenience store across the street from the cottage. Depending on the outcome of the sale, Avram said he might sell cars at a lot in that area.

As Avram looks ahead to the fall, he’s curious to how he will feel on Labor Day. Typically, it’s an anxious day filled with thousands of school-related thoughts running through his mind.

Grand Haven Area Public Schools Superintendent Andy Ingall said they have valued Avram’s service.

“We wish Steve the best in retirement,” Ingall said.

Over the years, Avram said he has enjoyed the memories and knowing that he’s making an impact in students’ lives. He considers himself fortunate because he’s “loved every job” he’s ever had.

In his years at Ferry and Voyager, Avram said he’s hired most of the staff and he’s developed friendships with everyone. He said he has one of the hardest-working staffs that also have fun together, and he will miss working with them, their collaboration and friendships.

“Leaving the school family is going to be tough,” he said Friday.

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