2022 PTA Council Essence Awards Bestowed at Havemeyer Ceremony

The Greenwich PTAC Essence Committee, along with the PTAC Board of Directors, on Tuesday announced the winners of the 12th Annual Essence Awards.

Brian Peldunas and Stephanie Cowie

Brian Peldunas was named the recipient of the 2022 Essence Award and Stephanie Cowie received the 2022 Lifetime Essence Award.

The Essence Awards were created to acknowledge individuals who tirelessly and admirably work to better the Greenwich Public Schools, whether in a position of leadership or as a member of a team. The Lifetime category was created in 2017 to specifically honor an active, long-standing impactful PTA volunteer who has contributed over the course of many years through a variety of positions and schools.

Brian Peldunas, a past PTAC president who joins every PTAC Zoom meeting and BOE meeting, cares deeply about GPS and the opportunity provided by a strong education. More than a decade ago, he started the Math Club for girls in Grades 2-5, a free afterschool session where he helped students to fine tune math skills. He researched the GPS curriculum and focused his program in parallel. During
this time, he selflessly gave of his afternoons: organizing the group and coordinating with parents. He gives of himself in a way only a math term could fully explain – to the nth degree.

As PTAC President, Brian excelled at navigating and role modeling how to work together, working with the administration to coordinate and advocate. He believes strongly in transparency and accountability, which coupled with his attention to detail, helped to propel PTAC into a stronger and more positive role within the District. Brian’s dedication, diligence, focus on process, attention to detail, and his desire to do what is best for our children are just some of his admirable key traits. He also has a great interest in hearing differing opinions and having a healthy debate on the issues to take the pulse of constituents.

Stephanie Cowie, current Co-President of Greenwich High School PTA, was nominated by her Co-President Leila Horn.

Stephanie is tireless, selfless and has been involved in countless volunteer positions, including: Central Middle School PTA Co-President; North Street Elementary VP of Ways & Means, VP of Finance/Assistant Treasurer, and many fundraisers. Her efforts to promote and encourage the mission of the PTA has been tremendous. She exemplifies what a school volunteer should be going above and beyond on every PTA project. With her bright outlook, vibrant personality and desire to help others, she epitomizes the selfless PTA volunteer.

“Stephanie is a tireless worker who has collaborated and partnered with both the administration and staff to make improvements to our programs and facilities including outdoor lunch tables, Wi-Fi and CE programs,” GHS Principal Ralph Mayo said. “I will miss her good counsel next year.”

The following is a complete list of all of the amazing volunteers who were nominated and honored at the Recognition Ceremony for their contributions to their individual schools and PTA Council committees:

● Rucchita Chhajed, Riverside School
● Marianela Cordova New Lebanon School
● Stephanie Cowie, Greenwich High School
● Kristen Hawreluk, Glenville School
● Megan Kelly, North Street School
● Nancy Lu, Western Middle School
● Brian Peldunas, Greenwich PTAC

Nominee Marianela Cordova (center) with her nominators.
Nominees Megan Kelly, Nancy Lu, Ruchita Chhajed, Brian Peldunas, Stephanie Cowie, Marianela Cordova, Kristen Hawreluk, and Greenwich Schools Superintendent Toni Jones.
Kristen Hawreluk (center) with her nominators.
Nominee Ruchita Chhajed (center) with her nominators.