Teacher of the Year

Katherine Zukis
2023-2024 Cheshire Teacher of the Year

Cheshire Public Schools is excited to honor Katherine Zukis as the 2023-2024 Cheshire Public Schools Teacher of the Year!  Katherine is a First Grade teacher at Norton School. Katherine began her teaching career in New Britain at Diloreto Elementary School as a long term substitute and joined the Cheshire team in 2009 working first at Highland and then at Norton School where she has spent the past thirteen years.

Colleagues who have had the pleasure of encountering Ms. Zukis’ teaching know the warmth that she exudes and the way she makes each and every child feel special. Her colleagues and supervisors recognize how talented she is in growing her students. Her first graders are able to consistently meet their academic goals as a result of the caring, accepting environment she creates that enables all students to take academic risks.

Katherine personifies calm, grace and poise. She welcomes every child to her classroom in the same way that she would want her own children to be received; appreciated for who they are as individuals and called upon to reach their very best potential. Ms Zukis’ teaching exemplifies the interconnectedness of social emotional learning and complex thinking.

Katherine serves on a number of committees including the new schools working group. She is an intervention team leader, district grade level representative and has been a presenter on Responsive Classroom practices within our district sharing her talents with other educators. She also serves as a mentor teacher working with college student interns who are studying to become teachers.

In addition to her work as a teacher, Katherine is a wife and mother to her two children Harper and Ford. In her spare time, Katherine volunteers at her children’s school serving as co-chair of the fundraising committee, coordinator of family-school events and maintains the garden in front of their school.

Katherine stated in her acceptance speech during convocation that how we make children feel, matters. She shared that it is her truest belief that the only way forward in our society is through education. She spoke to the impact an excellent teacher can have. Katherine Zukis is a gifted educator who is not only talented but humble and articulate. Katherine will represent Cheshire’s education community with a grace that will shine a positive light on the profession and make us all proud to be a part of this calling.

Dawn DeMeo
2022-2023 Cheshire Teacher of the Year

Dawn DeMeo is an English teacher at Cheshire High School where she teaches a variety of classes including AP Literature, Senior Literature, World Literature, and American Literature.  She also teaches a Teen Leadership Course designed to push students to ‘grow in character and vision’ and develop the ability to collaborate, present themselves, and persevere through challenges. Dawn also works the full year to support all of the theater productions, and specifically directs the much anticipated annual Cheshire High School spring musical that rivals a Broadway show. She is known to create dynamic and exciting performances that have included a flying “Mary Poppins” and a steady rainfall, with puddles, for “Singing in the Rain”.  Dawn makes every effort to create a safe, engaging and respectful environment for her students and, in 2020, was invited by students to be an advisor for the student group, Rams Against Racism.  Last year, Dawn co-taught the inaugural African American, Black and Puerto Rican, Latino Studies course and led a student trip to Puerto Rico with her co-teacher to help bring this curriculum to life.  Her passion for her students and curriculum is a driving factor in the success of these programs.

Dawn brings a wealth of knowledge and a global mindset to her teaching. In addition to a Bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College, Dawn earned certificates from Southern Connecticut State University and the University of Phoenix, and has completed additional coursework and intensive study at NYU and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.  In her pursuit of continuous learning, Dawn has also studied Capoeira, an Afro-brazilian martial art, Latin forms of salsa, bachata, merengue, Axe, forró and samba which all have roots in the histories taught to our students. Dawn has also tackled hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro and working on Habitat for Humanities projects in Thailand.

Most recently, Dawn was named a recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms award. Fulbright alumni include 60 Nobel Prize laureates, 89 Pulitzer Prize recipients, and 40 who have served as a head of state or government.  Dawn truly exemplifies what it means to be a teacher in a global community!

Dawn Demeo is an extremely skilled and accomplished teacher.  Cheshire High School Assistant Principal said, “Ms. Demeo does not just expect excellence but creates an environment and provides the instruction that fosters the desire for her students to excel”.  Dawn finds unique ways to connect to her students. For several years now, Dawn has created a practice, upon the dismissal of class, that allows her to make a one-to-one connection with each student upon exiting the room. This routine began with shaking each student’s hand and has evolved into personalized styles specific to her students.  Over the last 20 years as a professional educator, it is clear to all that Dawn is a natural at instilling the love of learning in her students and supporting them in the classroom and on stage.