There’s a legend at Holy Trinity School in Wallingford and he can be found in a classroom on the third floor of the building.
His name is Dom Forino.
For 43 years, Forino has taught the 8th grade at the Catholic school and has made generations of students feel like family, including me.
I graduated from Holy Trinity in 1996 and Mr. Forino was one of my favorite teachers.
“You know from your own experience what is behind the man. It’s more than a teacher and educator. It’s a friend and a person filled with compassion,” Sister Katie Kelly, principal of Holy Trinity School, said.
Mr. Forino coached my 8th grade softball team and it’s just one example of his commitment to his students.
But if he isn’t coaching a team, you can find him playing ball on the playground or catching up with his students in the hallway.
“Whenever you’re involved with the students, you’re a better teacher. When it’s more just the classroom give and take, I’m certain of that,” Forino said.
One of his current eighth grade students, Allie Williams, experiences the same important interaction that I did.
“He’s very involved and always coming out to recess with us. He’s always playing basketball with us, always making jokes,” says Williams.
“Dom is all about relationships,” Sister Katie said. “If I ever went through his desk drawer or his closet, I could find memorabilia from 1969 on. He saves a lot of stuff. For me it’s stuff. For him, it’s his life blood.”
In that drawer we found my Yale basketball schedule card and a team photo of the first team Mr. Forino coached.
He is still friends with the 1970 team’s star player, Tim Ryan.
“He helped me realize that sports was a continuation of what you learn in the classroom. So you buckle down in the classroom, you work hard. You go outside, you play, you play hard,” Ryan said.
“We went to the state tournament that year,” Forino added.
His philosophy focuses on friendship and it’s the same philosophy Forino has kept for more than four devoted decades and isn’t quite ready to give up.
“I always said, once a child comes up to me in the playground and said, ‘You taught my grandmother or grandfather,’ that might be time to think about some things,” he said.
And that might be, but even then, I’m certain Mr. Forino will keep all of his former students, who then become lifelong friends, close to his heart.