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Astor retiring as Fort Dodge AAD

Long-time Dodger: 'I have so many reasons to be grateful'

Messenger file photo: Kevin Astor has been with the Fort Dodge Community School District for all but one year since 1991, serving as an administrator for nearly a decade.

Kevin Astor is ready to take a step back and determine where he best fits moving forward as an educator.

Astor refuses to be weighed down by regret, though, as he leaves his post as athletic and activities director at Fort Dodge Senior High.

The 55-year-old Astor is retiring at the end of June after two years at the helm and nine overall as an administrator in the district he grew up in — first as a student, then later, a teacher and coach.

“It’s been an honor and a sincere privilege to serve in this role,” Astor said. “Our community has given me so much. I’m truly thankful for the opportunity to work in many different capacities and perspectives over the last three decades.

“I think sometimes, in the middle of the busy day-to-day grind, you tend to lose your perspective and not see the forest through the trees. I think I got to that point recently, and I’m ready for a new challenge. Honestly, I do miss the close relationship teachers and coaches build with their kids.”

Astor, a four-sport high school athlete with the Dodgers, graduated from Fort Dodge Senior High in 1984. He received his bachelor’s degree from Coe College in 1988, where he was a member of the football program and a national track qualifier.

Astor has been in the FDCSD for all but one year since 1991. He came back to Fort Dodge after working in Illinois and Minnesota, as well as teaching briefly in the Harlan Community School District.

“We thank Mr. Astor for his years of service to Fort Dodge, and wish him the best in his retirement,” FDCSD superintendent Dr. Jesse Ulrich said.

Astor admitted he struggled with this past year in particular, trying to find the right personal and professional balance while dealing with the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“It’s been extremely difficult; stressful on levels I’ve never experienced before,” said Astor, who obtained his master’s degree from Iowa State University in 1995. “I was just a nervous wreck: first, when we stopped the spring season and had to cancel, then starting things back up with the summer sports, and finally, going back inside for winter sports (in late fall).

“I’m very proud of the fact that we never had a major outbreak, but as a leader, the unknown was always weighing heavily on my mind. I think that’s just natural. I felt so bad for our kids in particular — especially the ones who missed that entire spring (2020) stretch (of both athletics and activities). We did what we had to do, and of course, hindsight is 20/20. It did affect me and my ability to make decisions without weighing every single ‘what if.’ I’m sure a lot of people would say the same thing. It’s not easy to come up with answers (in real time) through a situation like that.”

Astor isn’t necessarily expecting to stay fully retired, adding, “I won’t be able to just sit around. I want to stay involved in some capacity.”

“I’m not sure where or when,” Astor said. “The unknown of it all is kind of scary. But I’ll figure something out. As word got out (about Astor’s retirement), I started to hear from former students, athletes, colleagues…the well-wishes and thank-yous have meant a lot to me. I have so many reasons to be grateful. This job requires a lot of time, effort, work and passion. But it was all worth it.

“I hope I made a difference. I did the best I could. “

Astor’s wife, Julie, is a physical education teacher in the district. They have four children: Lexi, Kati, Geoff and Jon.

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