Dziavit Named NFA Teacher of the Year


Photo Courtesy of Thalizmar Mayorga

Stacia Bialowans, NFA Red & White Reporter

Killeen Dziavit, English teacher and Head of Department, has been named the 2021-2022 NFA Teacher of the Year. The first NFA Teacher of the Year was named during the 1989-1990 school year. Since then, there’s been a legacy of celebrated teachers nominated for the honor. After being nominated, each teacher then has to complete essays and interviews. 

A group of English teachers including Mrs. Browning, Mrs. Kendall, Mr. Brown, and Mr. Walsh came together to submit Mrs. Dziavit’s initial nomination. The process included a letter of recommendation being written by the group, and then a committee of former teachers of the year considered nominations and chose the winner. 

Mrs. Kendall said that, “(Dziavit) makes everyone in the English department look good. She’s a go to, a guru if you have questions about technology, she’s helpful about curriculum, you feel very confident working with her.” 

Mrs. Dziavit is no longer in the classroom full-time, but she does teach two classes. She splits her time in the classroom and her administrative duties. As the head of the English department she has many important responsibilities. Mrs. Dziavit evaluates department curriculum, schedules English courses, oversees student placements, and helps run English department programs like the spelling bee. She’s also in charge of budgeting, ordering materials, running department meetings, and facilitating training and PD opportunities for the English department.

Coming from a family of teachers, Mrs. Dziavit never planned on following in her family’s footsteps. Hearing about teaching all year long, at home and at parties, caused her, her cousins, and her brothers to all agree to never go into teaching. However, she changed her mind later in life. “I came to an epiphany moment just by recognizing all of the sudden all the things I had an interest in growing up were all moving me towards this career.”

Even though Mrs. Dziavit is no longer a full time teacher, she still keeps some of the same ideas from when she was. When she teaches her two classes, Public Speaking and English 3, she tries to make sure her students can relate to the work and activities, and feel comfortable learning. Mrs. Dziavit believes that building trust between her and her students is essential. “I really do believe that relationships in the classroom are important, that it’s really important that there’s a sense of trust in a classroom.”

Mrs. Dziavit also works to build trust and a sense of community with her coworkers and fellow teachers. Mrs. Kendall says, “We work as a team where everybody shares things and builds off of it, and she encourages it. I think that’s one of the things that’s so wonderful about her, she encourages teamwork, she encourages us to try new things.”

For many teachers of the year, the next step is to apply for the Connecticut Teacher of the Year. Local Teachers of the Year, if qualified, can apply to be a state teacher of the year. Past Connecticut Teachers of the Year include Jahana Hayes, former Social Studies teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, and current member of the U.S. House of Representatives. After being selected as Connecticut Teacher of the Year in 2016, Hayes was also named National Teacher of the Year before being elected to Congress. Unfortunately, Mrs. Dziavit is not able to apply, as she does not work directly with students more than 50% of the time. Despite the fact that her head of department duties keep her from applying, her colleagues agree she would be a great candidate. 

Mrs. Dziavit is very humble about her win. “I knew that it was pretty tough competition because everybody here really was deserving of teacher of the year. I was genuinely surprised when I learned.”