"Many of us are still in a state of shock," said Edwin Sponseller, superintendent of the Chambersburg Area School District. "It is very difficult to think about the career center without thinking about Dalton."
But at age 59, Paul said after 371/2 years in Franklin County schools, it is time to close this chapter of his life.
"Being in the top administrative position for as long as I have been there, I know there really is no good time to retire," Paul said. "I wanted to give them plenty of lead time to make the necessary transitions."
It will be up to the school's Joint Operating Committee, which includes superintendents and representatives from the six county school districts that support the center, to find a replacement by Paul's last day, Jan. 17.
Sponseller, who has worked with Paul for more than 30 years, said a positive attitude made Paul successful in education.
"He provided strong, consistent leadership for 27 years. He is consistent. He is always there," Sponseller said.
Paul said he has never minded the 12- and 16-hour days he works as the director of the center.
That included working with thousands of students, parents and staff and nearly 50 different school superintendents.
With four decades of memories to call on, Paul said he is proud of many things in his career, but most of all the students.
"I can see young people take their place in life and become important citizens and leaders," he said. "I am proud of the fact we were consistently recognized in the state and nation as a leading technical center. We have a 96 percent job placement record."
That is only achieved, he said, by keeping the center's 24 program areas up to speed with the changing automation and technology in the workforce.
"The work force is changing constantly, and I'm proud we've been able to provide those changes," he said. "It is a challenge to keep in the forefront. The last thing we should do is turn out students with obsolete skills."
Under Paul's tenure, enrollment has grown from about 300 students to about 1,000, which has remained steady for the last decade, he said.
Paul said he plans to stay in Franklin County and remain active in the community.
"I will not be a couch potato. I know there are lots of opportunities out there," he said.
In addition to the 271/2 years he will have spent as executive director of the center when he retires next year, Paul spent four year as the school's assistant director.
"He has dedicated his life to that school," Sponseller said. "Things won't be the same."