Press Releases


Don Askew Named Connecticut's 2023 Anne Marie Murphy Paraeducator of the Year

(Meriden, CT)On Tuesday morning, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker, and state and local officials made a surprise visit to Meriden to announce that paraeducator Don Askew has been named the 2023 Anne Marie Murphy Paraeducator of the Year.  


Mr. Askew is being recognized for his many years working with students across Connecticut, including in his most recent role within the Meriden Public Schools at the Meriden Transition Learning Center (TLC). The TLC is a functional life skills classroom with students in grades 9-12 who are working towards earning a diploma or certificate of completion.  The TLC includes students with a variety of disabilities and behavioral challenges.

Mr. Askew is being applauded for his use of the whole child approach to education. His innovative approaches have proven to reduce the stressors and barriers to learning that many students' struggle with daily, including providing extra snacks for students who may come to school hungry so they can better focus on their schoolwork or providing students access to washers and dryers to do laundry.


“We owe so much of the success that happens in our communities to the generous teachers and paraeducators who have dedicated their careers toward developing young minds into becoming accomplished adults,” Governor Lamont said. “I am thrilled that we can highlight the accomplishments of Mr. Askew and all that he has done to encourage achievement in Meriden’s public schools. I thank him and all of Connecticut’s administrators, teachers, and paraeducators for what they provide our schools and our children each and every day.”


“Paraeducators play an essential role in our school systems, adding incredible value to a classroom in a way that goes beyond just typical academics,” said Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz. “Paraeducators are vital to our state’s school systems, and even more vital to the students they serve. They are key to closing achievement gaps and add an incredible value and skillset to our school systems. Congratulations to Mr. Don Askew on this incredible achievement, and for all the work you do for every student that comes in your path!”


“Paraeducators serve as an integral part of Connecticut’s educational ecosystem that brings value, purpose, and meaning to students and school communities,” said Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker. “I applaud Mr. Askew for his focus on the whole child as students learn more effectively when non-academic barriers to learning are addressed. We hope Mr. Askew continues his efforts in Meriden and shares his practices with others statewide!”


“The Meriden Public Schools is thrilled that Don Askew was selected as the 2023 State Paraeducator of the Year,” said Meriden Superintendent Mark Benigni.  “For over twenty years, Don has made a positive difference in the lives of so many of our students.  Don is a leader, mentor, and role model.  We are proud of Don and thank him for all he does for the students, staff, and families of the Meriden Public Schools.”


In March 2013, CSDE and the School Paraprofessional Advisory Council renamed the Connecticut Paraeducator of the Year Award to the Anne Marie Murphy Paraeducator of the Year Award in honor of Anne Marie Murphy, a special education paraprofessional who lost her life during the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 


The Anne Marie Murphy Paraeducator of the Year Program recognizes one paraeducator who has demonstrated exceptional skill and dedication in his or her role, thereby earning the respect and admiration of students, teachers, administrators, coworkers, and parents. Paraeducators assist certified teachers in the classroom and play an integral role in developing students’ academic, social, and emotional skills. 

Don Askew will be recognized again in November at the Connecticut Teacher of the Year ceremony, along with the 2023 Connecticut Teacher of the Year and district Teachers of the Year.  



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