Mendham Says a Fond ‘Farewell’ to Mr. Acker

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Mr. Acker and his Algebra II class from the 2016-2017 school year. Photo courtesy of Mr. Acker. 

Lindsey Ingrey, Co-Editor In Chief

Mr. Acker has been a fixture of Mendham’s math department for 21 years, teaching most of the courses available to Mendham students, including “Computer Science, the Calculus courses, the Pre-Calculus courses, the Algebra II courses, the AP Statistics course, and the Geometry courses.” Mr. Acker felt that the gratification of teaching a particular course came from the students in the class, saying, “I enjoyed teaching a variety of courses.  I found that my enjoyment was dictated by the personality of the students in the class rather than the course subject.  Every class has a special personality created by the combined personalities of the students in the class.”

Mr. Acker’s experience before his tenure at Mendham was quite different from his day-to-day life as a high school math teacher. He explained, “I was retiring from my active duty military service in 1999 and was leaving my last assignment as a professor at West Point teaching college-level courses.  The West Point cadets are very bright and disciplined, preparing themselves for active military service. Obviously, these cadets have goals and perspectives that are different from the typical Mendham HS student.  So I needed to make an adjustment to my new audience at Mendham.  Of course, the content I was teaching was also different.  I taught engineering courses at West Point compared to the more basic math courses at Mendham.” Mendham students appreciated Mr. Acker’s extensive knowledge of mathematics and the often lighthearted nature of his courses. One senior recalled, “When we were learning about integrals, he made sure that we knew why we were learning them. He used real-life scenarios to make the problems more relevant to our lives and our other classes, like physics.”

Mr. Acker has made many wonderful memories during his time at Mendham: “I just start to laugh thinking about the fun that I had in the classroom with my students.  Besides my great memories with my students, I have wonderful memories of the long line of great teachers with whom I served.  There is no doubt that I will miss my students and my colleagues when I leave.” Mr. Acker’s proudest achievement as a teacher at Mendham was “getting letters from former students thanking me and telling me that they are doing well in college.” The tradition of college-bound seniors grateful to Mr. Acker continues with Andre Golumbeski, who had Mr. Acker as a teacher for three years. Golumbeski remarked, “Mr. Acker is a great teacher who places his students above all else and is dedicated to their success. Over my three years with Mr. Acker, I’ve learned so much about all of the subjects he taught and about his distinguished and incredible life. Of all the teachers I’ve had, Mr. Acker was the one who I feel best prepared me for college. I wish him nothing but the best as he transitions into a well-deserved retirement.” Mendham students will certainly miss Mr. Acker next fall. 

Mr. Acker was also incredibly involved in extracurricular activities at Mendham. He recalls, “During my first few years of teaching, I was asked to serve on the district’s Longterm Planning Committee with the Superintendent.  I also served as a Class Advisor.” Despite these obligations, Mr. Acker was drawn to athletics. He said, “My desire was to coach a Mendham sports team.  I had been a football coach at West Point.  But, I was willing to coach any sport.  I had played football, baseball, and basketball as a high school student and continued to play football at the college level.  Unfortunately, there were no coaching positions open in my first two years. But then I was asked to coach the freshmen lacrosse team, which I did for seven years, then switched to coaching baseball.  I was also asked to start the girls’ volleyball team in 2002.  I coached the varsity team for many years, then took a one-year break.  I came back to coach the freshmen volleyball team following my break.”

Some of Mr. Acker’s favorite Mendham memories came from his time as a coach and mentor. He says that some of his proudest moments include, “ watching one of my volleyball players, baseball players or lacrosse players make a great play”, “ coaching and watching the girls’ volleyball team defeat the 5-time Pennsylvania state championship team”, and “watching, as a spectator, the 2019 Girls Volleyball Team win the New Jersey state championship.”

Mr. Acker, reflecting on his past service in the military and as a teacher, he is looking forward to an exciting future. He explained his plans, saying, After serving our country on active military duty for more than 2 decades, and then serving as a public school teacher at  Mendham HS for more than 2 decades, I am hoping to spend the next 2 decades as an entrepreneur.  My wife, my son, my daughter-in-law, and I are starting our second season as owners of the Coolbeans Coffee Shop in Beach Haven, N.J.  My wife, Susan, and I are also designing our new home to be built on the lake at McLendon Hills, NC.  We plan to be snowbirds, spending 6 months in Beach Haven, NJ and 6 months in North Carolina. All four of our adult children and their spouses live in New Jersey.  We also have five grandchildren with number 6 due in June.”

We need to make the best of every situation, good or bad.  Learn to appreciate the “little things”; an opportunity to help another, a walk and conversation with a loved one, or a phone call with a friend.  Look outside of yourself, serve others, remain humble and selfless.”

— Mr. Acker

Mr. Acker has some final advice for Mendham students in these tumultuous times, saying, “As I have stated in the past, life is a series of undulations, ups and downs.  Obviously, during this time of the Corona-virus, we need to remain strong and rely on our faith, believing that these conditions will eventually pass.  We need to make the best of every situation, good or bad.  Learn to appreciate the “little things”; an opportunity to help another, a walk and conversation with a loved one, or a phone call with a friend.  Look outside of yourself, serve others, remain humble and selfless.”

Mendham will surely miss Mr. Acker next year, and we at the Patriot wish him the best of luck in his future. 

Photo courtesy of Mr. Acker.