STAMFORD, CT – March 13, 2019 – It will be an evening of celebration and inspiration at the Stamford Public Education Foundation’ s 12th annual 2019 Excellence in Education Awards, where community leaders and educators will be honored for their commitment to public education.  The event is taking place on Thursday, March 21st at the Sheraton Stamford Hotel (700 East Main Street, Stamford, CT) from 5:30 to 9:00 pm.  Tickets are available by visiting or calling 203-965-7733.

The evening will begin with a networking reception featuring hors d’oeuvres paired with wine from Domaine Bousquet Winery and beer from Two Roads Brewery, as well as a silent auction. There will be music from the Westhill Jazz Ensemble, Pop Music Academy, and Project Music.

The Awards Presentation will kick off with Stamford Public Schools honoring the 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year winner, Julia A. Stark Fifth Grade Teacher and Stamford High Alumna

Katelyn Tavolacci, as well as First Finalist, Finalists, Semi-finalists and Spotlight Award Winners.


Next, SPEF will proudly present the following awards:

  • SPEF Leadership Award: Barbara Dalio, Founder and Director of the Dalio Foundation, in recognition of her support for public education in Connecticut and her efforts in enabling young people to achieve their full potential.
  • SPEF Philanthropy Award: NatWest Markets, in recognition of its commitment to volunteering, especially in the area of education, and for its generosity in helping SPEF pursue its mission.
  • SPEF Educator Award: 21 educators were nominated by the Parent-Teacher Organizations at their respective schools in recognition of the exceptional learning environment they have created for their students. The recipient of the award will be announced at the event and will receive a $1,000 donation for their classroom/ learning environment.

The 21 nominees for SPEF Educator Award include:


  • Elayne Cuttita, Westhill High School
  • Alicia Hernandez, Rogers International School
  • Kaitlin Melsenti, Roxbury Elementary School
  • Laura Kanel, Davenport Ridge Elementary School
  • Melissa Valendra, Cloonan Middle School
  • Reina Di Nino, Toquam Magnet Elementary School
  • Nancy Woods, Strawberry Hill Elementary School
  • Carolyn Strazza, Newfield Elementary School
  • Ryan Curto, Turn of River Middle School
  • Debbie Gibb, Dolan Middle School
  • Jeannette Alicea, Rippowam Middle School
  • Melissa Leventhal, Springdale Elementary School
  • Elisabeth Rosano, Scofield Magnet Middle School
  • Marcella Decarlo, Stillmeadow Elementary School
  • Brie O’Bryan, Apples Early Childhood Education Center
  • Brenda Zanga, AITE
  • Janell Iyer, Stamford High School
  • Christina Papadopol, Northeast Elementary School
  • Susan Christiano, Hart Magnet Elementary School
  • Ann Zorn, Julia A. Stark Elementary School
  • Danielle Schmidt, T. Murphy Elementary School


SPEF is especially grateful to the sponsors of the evening for their support for public education, including:  NatWest Markets (Title); AXA IM (Summa Cum Laude); First County Bank, Pitney Bowes, Henkel, Patricia & Bob Phillips, State Street Global, and Garden Homes (Magna Cum Laude); Synapse Group and (Cum Laude); Berkowitz and Hanna LLC, Stamford Bank & Trust, and Morton & Eleanor Lowenthal (Honors); Serendipity (Media).