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Dawn Zalkus


I am proud to be an educator and artist teaching at Batavia High School.  I love working with students to build a strong artistic community where young artists feel safe, support one another, and share ideas. The core of this community fosters the idea of lifelong learning and growth while discovering the greatness of which everyone is capable. Working in partnership with my students I help to strengthen their artistic voice and development, keeping critical thinking, questioning, originality, choice, and technique building at the forefront.  At Batavia, I have helped to establish a National Art Honor Society Chapter, P.L.A.T.E. event, BHS Rock the Runway Wearable Art Fashion Show, BHS I Heart Art Invitational Art Show, The Batavia Fine Arts Festival, Empty Bowls Event, Studio Batavia’s Visual Arts Booster, community partnerships, and have fostered Batavia’s participation in many local and national art show. I was humbled to be named the 2018 Illinois Art Educator of the Year by the Illinois Art Education Association and the Illinois Art Educator of the Year by the National Art Education Association.  I enjoy being an active member of both associations.

Growing up in Palos Hills., I attended Stagg High School.  At Stagg, she fell in love with clay under the instruction of Deeks Carroll, and with his support and encouragement I decided to become a high school art instructor.  After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign majoring in Art Education both in 2003 with a BFA, and then again in 2006 with an MA, I taught in Hickory Hills and Carpentersville before finally landing at Batavia High School.  At Batavia, I teach Art Fundamentals, 3D Art, 3D Advanced Art, and AP Studio Art. I have also continued my education through courses online from the Art of Education as well as AP training at the School of the Art Institute Chicago and Columbia College Chicago. 

When not teaching I enjoy creating both functional and sculptural ceramic works, interior decorating, fashion, traveling, boating, and enjoying life with her husband, Jeremy, family, friends, and four cats.   Recently, I began constructing my own wearable art garments.  The first made from metal and crepe paper, entitled “Pretty Powerful”  was shown at the Water Street Studios and earned her the People’s Choice Award in 2017's Eye of the Beholder exhibition. In 2018 I painted the “Always Learning, Always Growing Dog,” as a part of Batavia’s Bulldogs Unleashed, which spent the summer basking in the sun on the streets of downtown Batavia.

Professional Contributions

  • Exhibitions

    • Water Street Studios Eye of the Beholder Garment Exhibition, "The Baptism" - 2019

    • Bulldogs Unleashed Artist 30” Bulldog, “Always Learning, Always Growing,” - 2018

    • Illinois Art Education Members Show - 2018

    • Illinois High School Art Exhibition Educator Show - 2017 and 2018

    • People’s Choice Award Water Street Studios Eye of the Beholder Garment Exhibition, “Pretty Powerful” - 2017

    • Chicagoland 4x5 Educator Show - 2017

  • Presenter 

    • 2013 IAEA Conference - Transforming Curriculum through Concept

    • 2013 IAEA Conference - From Project Runway to Rock the Runway

    • 2017 IAEA Conference - Can You Rock the Runway

    • 2017 BHS Institute Day - Arts Based Skills to Address ACES Issues 

    • 2019 IAEA Conference - When Art and Engineering Collide

    • 2019 IAEA Conference - 3D Art Beyond Pottery

    • 2019 IAEA Conference - 2018 Winner's Showcase

  • I Heart Art High School Invitational Sponsor

  • NAHS Sponsor

  • BHS Rock the Runway Sponsor


2019 "The Baptism"

2017 People’s Choice Award - “Pretty Powerful”

2017 People’s Choice Award - “Pretty Powerful”

ceramic work

ceramic work

IHSAE Art Educator Show 2017

(click on image to enlarge)

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