Twin sisters and Brewster Central School District secretaries Peggy Zambraski and Patti Lawlor have a long history with the Brewster community. They moved here from Manhattan in eighth grade and started out at the middle school. They met their husbands here, eventually bought houses across the street from each other, and each had three children: three boys for Zambraski and three girls for Lawlor.
“We were the football team, they were the cheerleaders,” laughed Zambraski. It was natural for them to start volunteering in Brewster schools. From there, they became substitute teachers, classroom aides, and, eventually, secretaries.
“Our lives are parallel,” said Lawlor, who was the principal’s secretary at CV Starr before moving to the district office, where she is Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Michelle Gosh’s secretary. Zambraski also served as Gosh’s secretary, working with her at Henry H. Wells Middle School before Gosh moved to the district office. Now Zambraski is Wells principal John Clark’s secretary.
So much of their personal and professional lives have been lived side by side — and, at the end of this school year, both women are retiring together.
“We’re going out together,” said Zambraski with a grin. “We always enjoy doing things together, so this is the next step of our lives together.”
The sisters will be sorely missed.
“Patti and Peggy are the backbone of the district, and have been for many years,” said Gosh. “They are an example to all of us of how we should work and live. They are great family people who treat all with kindness and respect. They are both wise and smart, and students and staff have benefitted greatly from having them in their roles.”
Working closely with Lawlor in recent years, Gosh couldn’t say enough about what an incredible employee she is. “She consistently exudes professionalism, kindness, and compassion. Her actions are always genuine. She’s incredibly skilled — she knows her position inside and out and assists others (especially me) with patience and skill. She’s proactive and forward-thinking and makes great recommendations about how to avoid potential issues.”
Clark was equally effusive. “In addition to being extremely dedicated and committed to their jobs, Peggy and Patti are two of the kindest, most selfless people you will ever meet. To be honest, they are probably the most beloved employees in the district. Peggy thinks about everyone and everything. She makes sure everyone is recognized on their birthdays, helps raise money for staff members in crisis, and just epitomizes the ideal employee. Her confidentiality, poise, and authenticity are remarkable, and she really is the glue that holds us together. We are so happy for her, but we are all in a bit of a panic at the prospect of functioning without her.”
Luckily for Clark and the rest of the district, the sisters don’t plan to go far. They’re still in the community —in fact, their grandkids go to Brewster schools. They plan to spend time with family, garden, travel, and continue doing volunteer work at their church.
What they’re really going to miss in retirement is the people: the school community and their coworkers.
“It’s family. It’s such a beautiful community,” said Lawlor. “Working in a school district with the children is amazing. Seeing all of the families you’ve met over the years coming back with their own children is just a really happy place to be.”
“It’s a great team. It’s a wonderful place to work,” Zambraski added. “They’ve seen our children grow up. It’s always family first. Everyone always seems to rally around each other and are there for each other.”