A man who means so much to me and has been an amazing leader in my Catholic education career has been Mr. Karl Ertle. When I was a young 8th grader and dreaming of attending St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Mr. Ertle was the admissions director. I visited St. Ignatius several times, took the admissions test, and was more than excited when I received my acceptance letter from St. Ignatius. Being a young man, I didn’t realize the impact that acceptance letter would have on my parents since I didn’t factor in the tuition. All I knew is that I was a Wildcat!
My parents called up Mr. Ertle explaining that it would be difficult to pay for St. Ignatius. Mr. Ertle asked my parents this question, “Did we accept Adam?” My parents responded with, “Yes.” Mr. Ertle replied, “Then he is going here.” My parents explained the financial situation. Mr. Ertle said, “We accepted Adam and he is a Wildcat. He will be going here.” My parents were confused by this concept, but they trusted Mr. Ertle. The confidence that Mr. Ertle provided my parents led them to build a great relationship with him, and it provided me an opportunity to grow under his leadership.
Following my 4 years at St. Ignatius, I went on to Cleveland State University. I graduated with a business degree and was unsure what to do after. St. Ignatius has an alumni volunteer program that allows recent college graduates to return to St. Ignatius and spend a school year serving the community. The volunteers would live on campus, spend time with the Jesuits, work with the high school students, and discern where the future will lead. Mr. Ertle fought hard to get me into the program, and I am very grateful that he did.
Mr. Ertle was my supervisor during my time as a volunteer. He was actively involved in all the programs that the volunteers worked with and was an amazing example of servant leadership. He showed me that a person truly does need to care for the least of us and not just say that you need to do it, but also show how to do it.
Once I completed my year of volunteering, I went back to Cleveland State to receive a teaching license. I was inspired by my year of service to go back to school and become a teacher. My main inspiration was Mr. Ertle.
When I was at Cleveland State, part of my requirement to become a teacher was to do my student teaching. After I left St. Ignatius, Mr. Ertle went to Cleveland Central Catholic to become president/principal of that high school. I contacted Mr. Ertle to see if I was able to do my student teaching at Central Catholic. I still remember his answer…”Who do I need to talk to?” This response showed that he cared to show me more about Catholic education and how to become a better leader.
During my time at Cleveland Central Catholic, I observed how Mr. Ertle interacted with the students each morning. I noticed how he learned the name of each student and would be present to greet them at the door each morning. He also made it a priority to participate in faith formation retreats and made the students and staff feel like they were a part of a Catholic faith community.
Mr. Ertle made sacrifices to ensure that students were welcomed into the school. He would talk with the students about academics, faith, and just life. He lives a life of service and doesn’t just preach a life of service.
I am blessed to know Mr. Karl Ertle. I truly do look to him as a model of leadership in Catholic education. He is now at Walsh Jesuit High School, but I know I can turn to him for guidance, support, and friendship. He is truly a leader in Catholic education! Thank you, Mr. Ertle!