As a business education teacher at South High School in Minneapolis, Richard Kormanik spent 35 years instructing students on topics like accounting and stock market investing.
But the investing class was serious business. Kormanik started teaching the class using $100,000 that had been donated by a successful investor who had gone to South High.
In six years, Kormanik and the students had turned the gift into a portfolio worth $300,000, enough to help fund student scholarships. That success led the donor, Robert Kommerstad, to give another $100,000 for the students to work with.
“He got the students actively involved in doing their homework and they were pretty successful,” said Steve Lindquist, who taught math at South High. “They invested real money, which was more fun that investing play money. They did very well.”
Kommerstad at one point told Kormanik that the South High students were doing a better job than students at a university in California, which had also received a donation for investing.
“He had a great relationship with students,” said Lindquist. “He was kind and enthusiastic and the students really did like him a lot.”
Kormanik, 75, died Feb. 1.
He began and ended his teaching career at South High and never wanted to leave the classroom.
“They wanted him to go to be a principal,” said his wife, Judy Kormanik. “But he said he loved the classroom, this was where he belonged.”
In addition to teaching, Kormanik was a football coach, the school’s athletic director for 12 years, and eventually the badminton coach.
“It’s a tremendous conditioning sport and it’s comparable to tennis,” Kormanik told the Star Tribune in 1988. “There’s a lot of strategy in the game to move the bird around.”
Kormanik played both football and badminton while he was an undergraduate at Macalester College in St. Paul.
At first he majored in journalism, but he switched to business administration with a specialty in education. He also earned a master’s at the University of Minnesota.
He was an accomplished handyman, building everything from bird houses to two residences, one a cabin and the other the family home in Maple Grove.
“He built a lake place and then a few months later that is where we spent our summers,” said Judy Kormanik. “He was real involved in building our home.”
On the family home’s seven acres, he spent a lot of time establishing and tending to vegetable and flower gardens.
Kormanik retired from teaching in 1999.
“He liked to teach students and make them better people,” said his wife. “My son ran into a person that had Rich as a teacher and he said, ‘All I ever learned from high school, I learned from your dad.’ ”
In addition to wife Judy, Kormanik is survived by sons Jason and Tim, as well as one grandson.
Services have been held.
The latest news from a TigerBlast email note:
South High Foundation Receives $6,000 Grant from Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community for All Nations program
Minneapolis, MN – The South High Foundation is pleased to announce the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community bestowed a $6,000 gift to the alumni organization of South High School, today. These funds will be dedicated to an experiential learning trip, to be taken by students in the school’s All Nations program, in 2018.
Principal Ray Aponte expressed gratitude to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, “The learning that takes place on a trip like this is truly transformational and unmatched in reaching learners at a level that deepens understanding––as no other experience can. This is a gift of meaningful support of our Native American students. We are humbly grateful.”
The trip to Camp Widjiwagan will be devoted to lessons in culture, history and leadership, and will examine the wonder of nature, through outdoor exploration.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community donation helps to fulfill transportation, meal, lodging and camp expenses.
About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) is a federally recognized, sovereign Indian tribe located southwest of Minneapolis, MN. With a focus on being a good neighbor, good steward of the earth, and good employer, the SMSC is committed to charitable donations, community partnerships, a healthy environment, and a strong economy. The SMSC and the SMSC Gaming Enterprise (Mystic Lake Casino Hotel and Little Six Casino) are the largest employer in Scott County.
Out of a Dakota tradition to help others, the SMSC has donated nearly $300 million to organizations and causes since opening the Gaming Enterprise in the 1990s and has contributed millions more to regional governments and infrastructure such as roads, water and sewer systems, and emergency services.
We know of four reunions scheduled for later this year. Find out more by clicking here.
We've added a list of 2017 donations to the Foundation. You can see that list by going to the Donations page by clicking here.
Check out this video on one of the efforts at South supported by your donation to the Foundation and its Grants program.
A calendar of upcoming activities:
Click on the controls at the lower left to view a welcome
by Judy Erickson Ayers, the current Foundation President!
Click on the controls at the lower left to view a holiday welcome
by the school Principal!
The South High Foundation has served the staff and students at South High since its incorporation in 1983. We welcome alumni, friends and parents to join us as we look forward to serving the South High Community far into the future.
Here's how it works: We raise money to support current students through a variety of grants to supplement the normal budget received from Minneapolis Public Schools. In addition, the Foundation supports recent graduates through its administration of many scholarships for post-secondary education. And by virtue of performing these activities, the Foundation is able to offer certain benefits to alumni as a by-product.
Briefly, the Foundation depends on two kinds of resources - people and money. Many people provide financial support to the Foundation. Several dozen provide the people-power that makes it all work. And the Foundation needs both the people and the money.
The chances to register and donate are open to anyone who wishes to support South High programs and students. Registration is free and entitles you to receive periodic newsletters. Making a donation is a step higher in terms of commitment - it means offering funds to support the cause, and entitles you to receive the Foundation's annual report. An different variety of commitment is demonstrated by the volunteers stepping up to the Opportunities.
The options on the menu bar at the top will take you to more details.
If you prefer, you can contact the Foundation office with any questions you might have related to the Foundation's operations. The office is staffed part-time. Contact the foundation by phone (612-668-4344) or email at
Interested in making a donation to support the work of the Foundation on behalf of South High? Click on the "DonateNow" button to the right and visit the GiveMN site to make a donation today! To contact the Foundation by email click here to send a note.
The Mission of the Friends of South High Foundation: provide financial assistance and support for programs at South High School that directly enhance the students’ overall high school experience by enriching their academic, cultural and extracurricular experience; and to support and enhance their ability to further their education.