Category Archives: President

Co-Presidents Letter December 2017

Dear Zervas Parents and Guardians,

We hope you all are finding some time to relax in the middle of this crazy holiday season. As I write this, my kids are bemoaning the fact that the first snow storm of the season fell on a weekend. They can’t wait for a snow day.

Looking back, November had some pretty great Zervas events. We hope you caught one of the Variety Shows organized by Darlene Nedeljkovic and music teacher Ken Mignone. I was impressed as always by the bravery and talent of the young performers. Thank you, Ken and Darlene, for making the nights run smoothly.

One Zervas event that keeps getting bigger and better is the Newton Turkey Trot. Priya Wagner spearheads this huge undertaking and has a strong team to work with including Liz Beckett, Caterina Betancourt, Ken Danila, Tim O’Brien, Amy Penna, and Kyle Pond. Some of these folks don’t even have students at Zervas anymore but they still come back to help! Thanks also to the 30 people who volunteered on race day. This year 900 runners registered, which meant more money for the Newton Food Pantry, the beneficiary of the race. The Turkey Trot was able to donate $6,000 to the Food Pantry! Another amazing thing about the race is how many kids participate in either the One Mile Fun Run or the entire 5K. Very impressive showing for the Zervas students!

We need to thank Evrim Atas for organizing two important events recently. In November, she brought parents of students on Individual Education Plans together with Special Education teachers for coffee, pastries, and conversation. It was a terrific opportunity for parents to connect with each other and to meet the teachers that work with their children. Evrim also planned a luncheon for all teachers on December 5th to celebrate Inclusive Schools week. Thanks so much, Evrim.

This month, Sanskriti Singh has been busy showing the teachers how much we appreciate them! She and Kai Shanahan organized the teacher stipends that the PTO gives each December (no small task). And then Sanskriti also orchestrated the Holiday Cookie Swap and Luncheon for all the teacher and staff on the early release day. Thank you to everyone who baked a batch of cookies. The tables were covered with yummy-looking treats!

Speaking of the teachers and staff, they donated many exciting and interesting experiences for the students to try to win in the Teacher Raffle. The raffle raised $2,880, which will go towards supporting the Creative Arts and Science program. CAS brings high-quality, highly relevant and carefully planned arts and sciences programming to students at Zervas, including everything from owls to origami. A huge thank you to Alison Kapilow and Katie Britton for coordinating the raffle this year!

You have until December 15th to donate a new, unwrapped toy for a child (newborn to age 12) in need. Thank you to Amanda Zurick for organizing this drive for Toys for Tots. Toys for children 0-2 and 9-12 are especially needed, and you can drop them off in the Zervas lobby.  Amanda also helped run the UNICEF box drive for Halloween which raised over $1,148 for UNICEF’s emergency relief work.

Class parents have been organizing holiday gifts for the teachers and aides using the class dues collected at the beginning of the year. If you would like to acknowledge your child’s teacher individually, consider participating in the Zervas Library Winter Book Drive. You can purchase a title selected by librarian Rebecca Kinney and then donate it to the new library in honor of a teacher or staff member. Ms. Kinney will create a bookplate to put inside the cover acknowledging the Zervas staff member of your choice. Please use this link if you are interested.

And don’t forget to add Zervas as your Amazon Smile recipient if you are shopping online this season! There are instructions on our website for how to do it.

If you have any questions or suggestions, do not hesitate to contact us at

Thank you,

Alicia Collins & Jenn Martin

PTO Co-Presidents


October Co-Presidents Letter

Dear Zervas Families:

We hope that you are settling comfortably into the routines of the new school year. September was a very busy month at Zervas! We kicked off the year with a wonderful turnout at the Fall Family Picnic. A special thank you to Sanskriti Singh for organizing this event and to Wendy Feiner, Anoush Mouradian and Dion Rhodes for helping out during the picnic. Sanskriti would love a co-chair for the spring picnic so please let us know if you are interested. The kids looked fantastic for Picture Day. Pictures should be coming home soon, and we have scheduled a retake day on Friday, November 6th for those who were absent or would like to have photos redone. Thank you to Rona Golan and Annie Ganot for coordinating and to Wendy Feiner, Anoush Mouradian, Karen Kipman, Daniela MacKinnon, Karina Rodriquez, Ori Spigelman, Barbara Talvitie and Eran Zait for helping make the day run smoothly. We also welcomed our new families at a pizza party hosted by Mary-Sheila and Steve Leese, who generously opened their home for the event. Thank you to Amy Waksler for all her hard work welcoming our new families and coordinating the party.

October also is shaping up to be an event-filled month, which we kicked off this past weekend with an incredible Destination Dinner. Kim Neal and Barbara Talvitie outdid themselves in planning and organizing yet another fabulous Zervas party. Many thanks to all of the families who got creative in the kitchen and opened up their homes to host dinners and a special thank you to our cocktail hosts Alicia Collins and Tony Abbiati and our dessert host Barbara Talvitie. Thank you also to Wendy Feiner and Jillian Queen for their behind the scenes help in making the evening a success.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 7 is International Walk to School Day and we hope that as many families as are able will walk to school. Please also join us at 7 pm for the PTO General Meeting, where we will discuss and vote on the budget for the coming year and the Zervas Community Connections Committee will host a panel of parents who will share their diverse experiences as members of the Zervas community. Fourth Grade parents should have received a permission slip for their children to participate in the 4th Grade Bike Safety Ride on Wednesday, October 14. It is not too late to volunteer to ride with the kids! The Family Halloween Dance is coming up later this month on Friday, October 30th. Look out for a Z Note with more information and please consider signing up to help out. And our annual Coats for Kids Drive is underway so please drop off your gently used coats in the bin outside the front office.

We also would like to thank some of the parents who have been hard at work behind the scenes taking care of important PTO jobs.

Jenn Martin has done an amazing job running the kindergarten soccer program, which is a fantastic way for children and their parents to make friends while getting some exercise and also a vital fundraiser for the PTO. Our thank you extends to Natascha Gundersen, Lorna Dunne, Matt Feiner, Kai Shanahan, Cheryl Hersh, and Debra Stump, who have assisted Jenn in making the program a success. Meryl Miller and Lorna Dunne worked tirelessly to produce the Zervas directory which keeps us all connected. Dion Rhodes is keeping track of the PTO dues; if you did not get a chance to pass yours in, you can still do so by putting a check for $30 in the PTO box in the main office. Thank you to all who donated so generously! Bindiya Stancampiano is coordinating all of our teacher appreciation activities and managing library volunteers, and Madhu Natarajan has been irreplaceable in running our website and publishing our weekly Z Mails. Lyla Goldstein has provided the much needed coffee and delicious snacks and refreshments at many of our events.

We have many committees planning activities throughout the year, and your participation — in any capacity — is welcomed. We are especially seeking volunteers from new Zervas families to work with our current committee chairs to help coordinate the spring family picnic, the spring family fair, the spring fundraising auction and party, kindergarten soccer and hospitality. Please contact us at if you can help!

We look forward to continuing this great year with you,

Jessica Davis and Lori Berkowitz

PTO Co-Presidents