Teacher Tuesday: LASD’s Zack Korienek

November 17, 2020

Zack Korienek

Teacher Tuesday: LASD’s Zack Korienek

Teacher Tuesday is a presentation of Shelby State Bank, www.shelbystatebank.com.

By Kate Krieger, MCP Staff Writer.

LUDINGTON — Ludington Area Schools teacher, Zack Korienek is a natural when it comes to educating children.

I have formally been teaching for four years now,” he said. “However, before getting my teaching certification, I worked as an early childhood education center and was a substitute teacher.”

Korienek is a native of St. Johns. He graduated from St. Johns High School in 2010 and then went on to college to seek his four-year degree from Oakland University where he graduated 

in 2014 with a bachelor’s of art degree in history with minors in political science and economics. He continued his education at Grand Valley State University where he obtained an elementary education teaching certificate in 2017 through GVSU’s graduate teacher certification (GTC) program. He said he intends to complete a masters degree in elementary curriculum and instruction from GVSU this upcoming winter semester.

Korienek received his kindergarten teaching job at Lakeview Elementary School four years ago. He said he enjoys being in the education field because it is a way he can help spark change for the system and defend the rights of all children.

“I went into education because I view it as the way out of the problems that are facing the country today,” he said. “I went into education to protect the interests of kids and do what is best for them no matter the cost. I view the way we ‘do school’ right now as broken and ‘my truth’ is that I am trying my best to reform our thoughts of school from the inside a little bit at a time.”

As a kindergarten teacher, Korienek is a child’s first teacher in many cases and he values creating a positive relationship with each of his students to help them develop a love for school and for learning.

“There are several perks to being a teacher especially at the kindergarten level,” he said. “I am a child at heart and love superheroes and comic books, so being able to share my love of those things with my students is special. I also love being able to share my love of music and drumming with my students. I have several different drums in my classroom, and they make for good ‘brain break’ activities. The best part of teaching for me is building relationships with my students. I want them to know that I will always be an advocate for them even after they leave my classroom. There is no better feeling than when a former student sees you in the hallway and they have a huge smile on their face because they are excited to see you.”

As a strong advocate for kids and seeing them grow and experience new and exciting things at school, Korienek believes that doing right by his students and their families should always be a priority in all teacher’s minds.

“It would have to be the mantra of ‘tradition’ or ‘that’s just how we have always done it,’” he said. “I have always believed that if tradition is the only reason that you can give for doing something then it is time to start a new tradition. This applies more than ever to schools across this country as they are scared to transition into the 21st century. I think we need to have the mindset of ‘what is best for kids’ and not ‘what is most convenient for adults.’”

Like most teachers, Korienek believes in his career and hopes more and more passionate individuals decide to major in education, especially now when education is changing so rapidly, but he also advises that it must be a career you really want to explore.

“Teaching is definitely a career you have to be passionate about or you will burn up quickly,” he said. “I think becoming a substitute teacher or volunteering in a local classroom is a great way to get into the classroom to make sure it is what you want to do.”

Outside of the classroom, Korienek also lends a hand with the Ludington High School marching band. He has been involved in music for many years and when the opportunity arose, Korienek jumped at the chance.

One of my favorite perks of teaching here in Ludington is being able to work with the marching band as the drumline instructor,” he said. “I have had a love for marching band since I was in high school and was lucky enough to be asked to help instruct my high school drumline after I graduated. When I was hired here, music teacher Keith Kuczynski reached out and asked if I wanted to instruct the drumline here and it was an immediate yes. Four years later and we are building what we hope is the pillar of the marching band program here in Ludington.”

Korienek works hard building the educational foundation for all of his students and he has a piece of advice for any child.

I want students to realize that they are a small part of a big world, but even though they are just a small part it doesn’t mean they can’t make a big difference.”

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