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Member Spotlight: Paul Kulikowski

September 26, 2018

A lifelong resident of Connecticut, Paul Kulikowski taught Art in the Simsbury Public Schools for 35 years, with most of those years spent teaching at the middle school level, before he retired in 2013. Since his retirement, he has been working part time as the Supervisor for Simsbury's evening Adult Education Program, where he administers a program that helps adults succeed in improving basic skills, earning a GED, gaining American Citizenship, or learning the English language. He holds Bachelor's, Master's, 6th Year and 7th year degrees in Art Education from Central Connecticut State University, and is certified by the State Department of Education in teaching Art grades K-12, as well as Non-Credit Adult Education.

During his teaching career Paul was an active leader in the Simsbury Education Association, and active in CEA and NEA. He served in many leadership roles in Simsbury's SEA, including Co-President, Co-Negotiations Chair, Grievance Chair,Insurance Liaison, Building Rep, and many town-wide sub committees. He also served on many CEA committees over the years, including CEA's Judicial Review Board, and the CEA Retirement Committee, and he is a recipient of CEA's "Above and Beyond the Call of Duty Award". For several years he was the Eastern Region contact for the NEA Peace and Justice Caucus, and over the years he was elected to attend countless CEA and NEA Representative Assemblies, where he never shied away from a microphone to fight for the rights of teachers, the strength of our Union, and the future of public education.

As an Art educator, Paul was active in his State art association, the Connecticut Art Education Association (CAEA). There he served as Co-President, Advocacy Chair, and Scholastic Arts Committee member.He is a past member of the Connecticut Arts Literacy Task Force. As a retired teacher, Paul still remains active in art education politics, and continues to be a vocal advocate for strong and viable art programs in our schools. He instituted and continues to facilitate an annual program that brings framed student artwork into legislative committee rooms at the State's Legislative Office Building, working with lobbyists and legislators to increase awareness of the importance of art education for all Connecticut's students.

In 1997 Paul was named Connecticut Art Educator of the Year, and in 1998 he was given the National Art Education Association's Connecticut Art Educator Award. That same year he was awarded Simsbury's prestigious Elliot P. Dodge Education Award. In 2007, he was named Simsbury Teacher of the Year.

Since 2005 Paul has traveled to New Orleans many times to volunteer with the cleanup efforts after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He has presented an original photographic exhibit, Honoring New Orleans, at many venues around Connecticut to help raise public awareness and funds for New Orleans charities. In 2007 he was awarded a grant from The Philanthropic Initiative in Boston to live in New Orleans for one month, creating sketches for paintings, taking additional photographs of his favorite city, and researching the effects of the hurricane on the art community there. He presented the results of his grant work as part of the Artist Renewal Program of The Philanthropic Initiative. In his retirement, Paul still takes frequent trips to "NOLA" to enjoy everything his favorite city has to offer!

After being diagnosed with cancer and beginning chemotherapy in January of 2007, Paul has not slowed down. Even after more than eleven years of ongoing treatments, he continues to live life to the fullest…painting, taking photographs, exhibiting his artwork in local galleries, traveling, and enjoying all the things he always has. He says, "Retirement is great! There are so many opportunities out there for lifelong learning... I just have to schedule things around my bi-weekly chemotherapy treatments...no big deal. I refuse to let cancer define who I am…instead I am learning from it, accepting all the challenges, navigating the bumps in the road, and growing as a person each and every day".

In his retirement, Paul continues to be an active voice in the state's art community, a life member of CEA-Retired, and an outspoken advocate for public education and teacher unions. He continues to discover the world (and himself) through reading, travel, painting, photography, quiet times in the woods, and crazy times with good friends!


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