John Avoli Biography
John Avoli’s life story symbolizes the American Dream. Born in a mountain top village in Italy, he came to the United States at age 10, settling with his family in the small West Virginia steel mill town of Weirton.
He graduated from Madonna High School, and earned a scholarship to play football and study at the University of Richmond. After his 1974 graduation from Richmond, John began a long career in public education by becoming a teacher and football and track coach at Wilson Memorial High School in Fishersville.
He earned a master’s degree in school administration from the University of Virginia in 1979, and was appointed the assistant principal of Valley Vocational Technical Center in Fishersville the same year. After four years of helping run Valley Vo-Tech and serving students in Waynesboro, Staunton and Augusta County, John was named principal of Stuarts Draft High School in 1983.
John returned to Valley Vo-Tech in 1987 as principal. He held that position until 2001. That is when John became executive director of the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton. He held that position until his 2017 retirement.
John said his career as an educator offered the opportunity to positively influence the lives of young people. He is “in his glory” when he encounters former students who are raising their families, serving as volunteers and being productive members of the community.
His political career started in 1990 when John ran for Staunton City Council. He served on the council for 16 years, including 14 as Staunton’s mayor.
John worked collaboratively during that time to improve life in Staunton. He worked with “great teams” of council members, city staff and numerous boards and commissions. The record of accomplishment is well-documented. Here are a few highlights of John’s work on council in Staunton:
EDUCATION – The renovation of the middle school and elementary schools in Staunton, and a new and expanded city library.
RECREATION – Gypsy Hill Park received several upgrades including a new gym and new athletic fields. Several other facilities in the city were renovated.
PUBLIC SAFETY – The West End Fire Station was constructed. The city also partnered with Augusta County to build Middle River Regional Jail in Verona and the regional juvenile detention home.
PUBLIC WORKS – The city upgraded a water treatment plant and improved water and sewer lines throughout Staunton. The city worked with Augusta County on a regional wastewater treatment plant and with Augusta County and Waynesboro on a regional landfill.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT – The city created the Green Hills Industrial Park, and established a public-private partnership to develop the former Staunton Correctional Center.
DOWNTOWN REDEVELOPMENT – Staunton created a Virginia and National Main Street program.
During the 16 years John served on Staunton City Council, a new city parking garage was built, as was the Blackfriars Playhouse and the renovation and opening of the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and Conference Center.
A downtown “big dig” brought a major infrastructure improvement to the city of Staunton. The city also opened a new city hall and office complex and renovated the former Booker T. Washington High School. The old school became a city recreation center.
John’s American Dream has offered him the chance to give back much to his community over the past four-plus decades.