Get to know Learning Resource Coordinator, assistant varsity baseball coach and Fenwick alumnus Kyle Kmiecik ’00.
What is your educational background?
KK: I went to St. Vincent Ferrer in River Forest, then Fenwick (2000 grad). I graduated with a sports-management degree from Southern Wesleyan University in South Carolina. I earned my master’s degree in special education (LBS 1 certification) from National Louis University.
What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at Fenwick?
KK: After college, I played five years of professional baseball in the independent leagues. I played for the Sioux Falls Canaries in the Northern League, Kalamazoo Kings in the Frontier League and the Sussex Skyhawks (New Jersey) in the Can-Am League. During the off-season, I worked as a performance coach/ personal trainer in Clemson, SC, and I would help run baseball camps and give private baseball lessons. I also worked for Zinger Bat Company, where I would help make and finish professional wood bats along with working as their Midwest sales rep. During grad school I worked at Keshet, which is an organization for kids and adults with disabilities.
What are you currently reading for enjoyment?
KK: I am reading The Mental ABCs of Pitching by H.A. Dorfman.
What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?
KK: Coaching baseball has been a passion of mine since I started working the Fenwick baseball camps with Coach Hogan when I was a student here. Along with coaching baseball here at Fenwick, I coach my son’s 9u travel team. Besides coaching baseball, I love to fish, golf, play soccer and tennis with my boys, Brayden (5), Jackson (8) and my wife, Brittney.
To what teams and/or clubs did you belong as a student?
KK: I played soccer, baseball, ran indoor track and was a member of SADD when I was a student at Fenwick.
Which clubs/sports/activities do you run at Fenwick?
KK: I am currently one of the assistant varsity baseball coaches and also one of the Friar Mentors (peer mentoring/tutoring program) moderators.
What quality/characteristic marks a Fenwick student?
KK: I think that the qualities that best mark a Fenwick student are respectfulness, loyalty and resilience, which allow our students to learn from and rise above failures, mistakes, obstacles and adversity.
When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?
KK: Throughout my baseball career, I had many opportunities to serve within the community. It was through my experiences volunteering at a juvenile detention center, working with kids and young adults on the Autism Spectrum, tutoring young kids in math, and substitute teaching at St. Cyprian School [River Grove, IL], where my mom was a teacher, that I truly developed my passion for teaching. I should also add that we have seven teachers in my family, which includes both of my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
What personal strengths do you find especially helpful in your teaching?
KK: I have learned through playing and coaching baseball the importance of focusing only on the things that I can control, and to learn from my past mistakes. I learned that the obstacles that I faced throughout my life have been opportunities to demonstrate my faith in God’s will, to be more thankful and to learn how to use these experiences to help others. Using my past experiences, both the good and bad, allows me to have honest conversations with students about how they will not necessarily be able to control what happens to them each day in regard to the adversity that they will inevitably face. However, it’s important for my students to learn that they do have control over how they react to adversity and when life doesn’t go the way that they wanted and hoped it would.
What are your favorite classes to teach?
I loved teaching the executive functioning/study strategies class during summer school. I also enjoy teaching algebra. I have always wanted to teach a theology class, which I would regularly throw out there to Pat Mulcahy
when we coached baseball together.
What is the greatest success you have had in teaching?
The greatest success that I have had in teaching is being a part of our Learning Resource Program
and seeing firsthand how much this program has grown over the last 10 years. Fenwick is an inclusive
school, so while upholding our academic integrity and standards, Fenwick gives students who truly want to be a part of the Fenwick family an opportunity to experience all that we have to offer. We have phenomenal teachers, administrators, families and alumni who are very supportive of our program.
What challenges face students today?
KK: Students have many challenges that they face on a regular basis. In my humble opinion, a few of the biggest challenges our students face are the distractions from social media and technology in general; social justice issues that seem to have been causing more of a divide as opposed to bringing us all closer together; and, finally, I think there is much more added pressure on students in regard to their performance. Our students are constantly having to fight the urge to compare themselves to others (via social media), and there is an underlying pressure to keep up with what is considered “normal” by society in regard to their grades, what colleges they want to attend, and what they want to do with their lives. I have much respect for our students and their parents. As a young dad, I am seeing and experiencing firsthand some of the challenges that our students and their parents are having to work through. Our students are intelligent, determined, hardworking, kind and humble, so I’m confident that their strengths will help lead them as they work through the challenges that they face.