Dave Smith, left, and Tom Korinek, right

Back in the 1970s, Tom Korinek and Dave Smith were young, innovative and on the cutting edge of teaching in a way that touched the lives of many students. Now, it’s our turn to thank them. On Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, both teachers joined the Holmes Class of 1975 for a reunion at Barclay’s American Grille in Oak Park.

They were clearly honored by our gesture to establish this tribute fund through the Oak Park Education Foundation. We hope it inspires other alumni—hopefully YOU! —to join us in thanking these remarkable teachers and support the Oak Park Education Foundation.

The funds we raise will be used to support District 97’s Spoken Word project (see below)—a favorite of Mr. Smith’s and Mr. Korinek’s.

Please search in your hearts and give back for a good cause in honor of these awesome guys. To date, we have raised more than $3,000 in donations!



“Chap” Book for Middle School Performance Poets

Spoken Word, Oak Park Education Foundation’s newest in-school program, is a powerful and effective medium for fostering creativity and self-expression in young people. Through both in-school residencies and extracurricular clubs, students learn to write and revise poems that reflect their own unique experiences, interests, and opinions.

The poets share their poetry in safe and supportive spaces in class and also through grade-wide assemblies. This year, we hope to launch a new initiative that would allow our performance poets to become “published poets” by printing a “chapbook” of hundreds of student poems (borrowing a page from Oak Park-River Forest High School). These published copies will be printed and distributed to all the Oak Park Public Libraries, school libraries, Language and Literature classrooms, and will also be available for sale to parents at a modest cost.


Our Classmates’ Tributes

The lasting impact of Mr. Korinek’s and Mr. Smith’s teaching

“Forty-four years ago, these two teachers worked unconditionally to give us the best education anyone could provide! Mr. Korinek took me under his wing and brought me out of my shell. I was shy and scared to death to change schools in 6th grade. It’s because of this man’s compassion that I thrived in middle school. He went above and beyond to find the best in us all. Thank you for your generous heart!” 

~Jacqueline Hassard Heneghan 


“The impact for me, to this day, is to look back and say ‘Yes these two teachers cared about me, I was loved.’ Most people in life don’t know what has happened to a person in their personal life. Some of us need to reflect to find the good people who were in their lives. Mr. K and Mr. S were just that for me. Two men who, in spite of not knowing my trauma, DID THEIR JOB with love. It represents their true character. Thank you, Mr. Smith and Mr. Korinek.”

~Carolyn Hill-DePina


“A well-deserved recognition of two remarkable teachers who not only taught us, but showed us how to be inquisitive, responsible, and courteous with our fellow classmates.  No small task when we consider that they were teaching junior high students!”

~Bob O’Malley


“Tom and Dave, you fostered in us a sense of curiosity, love of learning, and insights into the world around us. You have affected and influenced thousands of students and, for that, we are thankful!”

~Sue Montgomery


“I clearly recall participating in a ‘sweat shop’ — acting in plays and doing creative writing. I actually enjoyed class. Dave Smith and Tom Korinek are unforgettable. Thank you both!”

~Ilana Bar-Hei


“Mr. Korinek and Mr. Smith were great teachers. They made learning interesting and fun at the same time. I appreciate the impact they made on my life.”

~Joanne Stopka


“Mr. Korinek was not only one of our favorite teachers ever, he was academically transformative for each of us. To this day, we write because of the way he taught us to write. He was a stickler for proper grammar. He taught in innovative, creative ways that taught us to think outside of the box. He was kind, yet firm. He always listened to his students … really listened. And, he told really bad jokes, which endeared him to all of us! He has influenced our lives in countless ways.

We are forever indebted that he chose teaching as his noble profession. There are very few like him, and we are profoundly grateful to have studied under his guidance.”

Sallie Jo Tardy Mitzell, ’73, Karen Tardy, ’75, and Elizabeth “Biz” Tardy Holloway, ’78