Remembering Mary Anne

Dear FSD friends, staff, and community members:

Like you, I was saddened to hear of the passing of Mary Anne Ackerman last Saturday.

Many of us knew her – or heard high praise about her – because of her visionary leadership and heartfelt service to our district as a former principal and superintendent.

No one will ever forget Mary Anne’s smile or her legacy of accomplishment.

As Mary Anne went on to serve as Mayor as well as the Executive Director of SVSU’s Gerstacker Fellowship Program for school leaders, more than just those of us in the Frankenmuth community had the privilege of being inspired by her enthusiasm for learning, her in-the-trenches wisdom, and her compassion for all.

Mary Anne was definitely one of a kind.
(Of the very best kind!)

In today’s email I’d like to honor Mary Anne by first sharing with you a post she wrote for my weekly email back in 2022.

I’d also like to share the article which is up on our district website, an article which presents the origin story of our FSD Hall of Fame.

For background, Mary Anne retired as FSD Superintendent in 2017. In August of 2022 she wrote this when she was asked to recall one of her favorite back-to-school memories.

One of my favorite Back-to-School memories just happens to be my very last one!

Year after year, it seemed that outside of our schools we could not escape significant traffic congestion before and after school.

And every FSD parent knows exactly what I’m talking about!

Well, as I entered my last year as superintendent in 2017 prior to my retirement, I was bound and determined to reduce our before-and-after school traffic problem once and for all.

Unfortunately, on the first morning of school that fall, we experienced a torrential downpour.

I came in from directing traffic totally soaked – and when I went back outside later after school, my clothes were still wet!

It wasn’t pleasant to say the least.

However, I continued my commitment to directing traffic before-and-after school for the entire school year and what a blessing it turned out to be!

I met so many fantastic FSD parents and grandparents I’m sure I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet otherwise.

Now, here is the story as it appears on our website, “How FSD’s Hall of Fame Began.”

We need to remember that FSD wouldn’t even have our Hall of Fame if it weren’t for Mary Anne and Judy Zehnder

Our FSD Hall of Fame has a unique origin story. 

In 2013, Judy Zehnder-Keller approached Superintendent Mary Anne Ackerman with an idea.

Judy thought FSD should consider launching a Hall of Fame with the purpose of annually lifting high the banner for public education and providing the opportunity to recognize a number of past and present Eagles – graduates and community members alike – who have gone on to represent the best of what FSD is all about.
“It’s really a wonderful thing,” Judy said. “Year after year – thanks to great teachers, parents, and community partners – many of the most unassuming ‘young eagles’ in our schools graduate and then ultimately soar to great heights in life.”  

Judy recalled how her dad, Tiny Zehnder, could only go through 10th grade at Frankenmuth High School, as FSD didn’t have classes that extended through the 12th grade at the time.

Tiny transferred to Arthur Hill High School and earned his diploma there, and many years later, he was honored to receive one of their “Alumnus of the Year” awards. 

Although this would be just one of many awards Tiny would receive in his adult life, this one always had a special place in heart.

“This award didn’t come from a business association or community organization,” Judy said. “My father treasured it because it came from the friends and peers he grew up with.” With this in mind, Judy gave Mary Anne her reasons why FSD should start a similar Hall of Fame – and Mary Anne fully agreed!

“We’ve definitely had hundreds of grads who have gone on to chase down their dreams and accomplish great things in life,” Mary Anne said. 

So, in 2014, the FSD Hall of Fame was born and began highlighting two noteworthy award-winners on the day of the Homecoming Football Parade and Game.

The two awards were named the Alumnus of the Year and the Champion of Children

The Alumnus of the Year would go to a select FHS grad with a record of accomplishment, and the Champion of Children award could go to any community member with a consistent record of support and service to FSD students and programs, regardless of where they attended school.

If you didn’t have the privilege of experiencing Mary Anne’s kind and incredible heart, I hope these two stories gives you an idea about what a wonderful person Mary Anne Ackerman was.

And if you knew Mary Anne well, I’m sure you said to yourself, “Yep, that’s the Mary Anne I know!”

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