Joshua Smith, Superintendent of Region 15 Public Schools, has announced that Nikki Kulis, kindergarten teacher at Gainfield Elementary School (GES) and 23-year educator in the school district, has been chosen to serve as Region 15’s 202-23 Teacher of the Year.
Mrs. Kulis’s entire teaching career has been in Region 15 at GES, beginning her professional journey as a teaching intern, student teacher, and long-term substitute for Grade 2. In 1999, she began her career teaching second grade. After spending seven years in second grade, she moved to Kindergarten.
A beloved and talented teacher, Mrs. Kulis is known equally for her expert skills as an educator and for her limitless warmth as a caregiver. In the classroom, she is exceptionally agile in finding solutions that work for each child to enjoy learning and goes above and beyond to make each child in her class feel special, ensuring that everyday is filled with magic.
Co-workers share that she cares about not only her students, but her colleagues and the community as well, as she works to intentionally recognize teachers, support staff, custodial staff and bus drivers who all work together to make GES a special place.
Parents share that she is an integral part of the GES community. Her commitment to the GES community knows no bounds, serving as the teacher representative on the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) and leading many PTO initiatives, including GES's Bus Driver Appreciation Week and PTO fundraisers. Additionally, as a member of GES's Family Subcommittee of the Safe School Climate Committee, Mrs. Kulis helps imagine, coordinate, and host community-building events throughout the school year and is always scooping ice cream at the annual longstanding Ice Cream Social that kicks off each school year.
Mrs. Kulis has even been known to recruit her family to wear the Calvin the Cougar school mascot costume for special events. In Spring 2020, Calvin was spotted waving out of the sunroof of Mrs. Kulis's car during the car parades through town that brought students and families joy during a difficult time. On the weekends, Mrs. Kulis can often be found on the sidelines at Pomperaug Soccer Club's in-house games cheering for her current and former students.
She builds a strong foundation for learning through a positive first-school experience. She builds confidence and motivates our youngest learners in the district, and her classroom exudes joy. There is nothing Mrs. Kulis wouldn't do for GES, and she is a large part of the reason that GES is a welcoming, supported, and safe environment for students, families and staff.
“I am honored to celebrate Mrs. Kulis and recognize her service to her students, to her colleagues, to the teaching profession and to our entire school community. Her dedication and commitment to Region 15 knows no bounds and so wonderfully exemplifies what it means to be a dedicated educator who is committed to strengthening our school community. She is an outstanding example of Region 15 and of the exemplary service of our educators across the district. We are proud to have her represent our district” said Joshua Smith, Superintendent of Region 15 Schools.
Mr. Jon Romeo, Principal of Gainfield Elementary School, Mrs. Nikki Kulis, Region 15’s 2022-23 Teacher of the Year, and Mr. Joshua Smith, Superintendent of Region 15 Schools