At the conclusion of Catholic Education Week, Sacred Heart School celebrated two of its finest as the recipients of the Teacher and Alumni of the Year awards during an all-school Mass Friday afternoon.
Gloria Close, a fourth grade teacher at SHS, was named Teacher of the Year and Charli Ackerman, Pettis County Public Administrator, was chosen as Alumni of the Year.
“To be a success is not just for our personal gains,” Father Mark Miller, of Sacred Heart Church, said. “To be a success is to work for the benefits of others.”
Both Close and Ackerman have devoted much of their public life in the service of others through their work.
Ackerman graduated from Sacred Heart in 1974 and was the class president, but she was involved in all aspects of the school.
“Charli is a big a part of SHS as you can get,” said David Dick, Pettis County Presiding Commissioner and President of the SHS alumni Association. “Her entire family graduated from Sacred Heart but even after her graduation, Charli continued to give back to the school and the church.
“She has worked at the Bazaar for as long as I can remember and she served as the president of the Board of Education for a number of years as well,” Dick added. “She did all of this while she and her husband raised their three sons and while she had a full-time job at Union Savings Bank.”
Dick said many people thought Charli was crazy from stepping down to accept an appointed position as Public Administrator and later when she ran for the office after her appointed term expired.
“Charli was elected to a job that people don’t think about until they need the services her office provides,” Dick said. “What Charli does is she helps those in need maintain and keep their identity and dignity.
“Those are the lessons we learn at Sacred Heart, to help others achieve a common goal and to always be willing to help and give back to those who may need some support,” he added. “She is an excellent example of living a life of caring and giving both to her family and community and she has been her entire life.”
Ackerman said she was humbled to receive the award and gave credit to Sacred Heart for her work.
“All that I have been led to do that is good is from the values and teachings of this school and church,” Ackerman said during her acceptance. “There are so many who do far more then I and all that I do is for the glory of God.”
For Close, she was not only humbled and grateful, but also speechless when her name was called as the recipient.
“I was stunned when Bev (Rollings, president of the Sacred Heart Foundation) said my name,” Close said. “When she made the comment about football and the 51-yard line, I thought that it could be about me because I’ve said that before, but it still didn’t register until they took my music and told me to walk up there.
“I was speechless and for anyone who knows me they know that is virtually impossible,” Close said with the laugh and twinkle in her eye she is known for. “Everyone who knows me too knows that I am not a morning person, but I love this school and I am the luckiest person in the world because I get to come here every day and I get to do what I do, which is the best thing in the world, helping educate others.”
Close told those assembled that even though they may not include it in their job description, on the occupation line they were all teachers.
“Each and every one of you, whether you are a mom or a dad or a child or anyone, we are all teachers,” Close said. “We learn every day.
“We learn from each and every experience,” Close added. “It’s the learning that makes life so interesting and it is what gives life meaning.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484