Hila Stern is founder and owner of HSB Architecture & Design, a full service architecture and design firm at the forefront of planning educational settings and residential spaces. Since the start of the pandemic, Hila led the architecture and design team, collaborating with the Medical Advisory Team and administrators, with a primary focus on the Academy & new ELC. She brilliantly repurposed and reconfigured interior spaces for classroom learning, as well as designed new layouts for the field and playgrounds to allow for flexible usage of space. Additionally, Hila directed work on capital improvements, including HVAC systems for air circulation and ventilation, and touchless technology for restrooms. She also helped to develop color-coded signage and floor decals to delineate the use of space, and to promote safe practices. Over the last seven years, Hila has worked with SAR to design new spaces and adapt existing areas including nearly every grade, the lobby in the Academy and the High School lobby, Beit Midrash and Machon Siach. Her most exciting project of late has been interior design for the new ELC building, working closely with the SAR administrators to configure classrooms and common spaces, all while incorporating SAR's mission and values. As a dedicated parent volunteer, Hila was Co-Chair for SAR's Family Fun Day at MetLife Stadium, Decor Chair for SAR's 49th Anniversary Dinner, and Learning to Look instructor. Hila and her husband Amit moved to Riverdale ten years ago from Tel Aviv, and are parents to Rona (Grade 6), Leah (Grade 8), and Ori (AC '18, HS '22) FOUR QUESTIONS FOR THE HONOREE Q. What is the one insight you have gained from this year that you would like to share? A. This year I have watched and learned the power of “givers”. Each day I was inspired by the many ways in which people in our community showed up and stood up for each other. From food and clothing drives, to online support groups and community zooms. This gave me strength and motivation to support my close family, and to look out into the larger community for ways to help. Having the opportunity to harness my professional capabilities in a way that helped schools to reopen safely in the fall was most rewarding. I felt personally enriched to learn from the tremendous wisdom of the talented teams I was working with. In true SAR style, our collaboration and combined knowledge helped form the plan for coming back to the buildings safely. In this difficult time there has been a true sense of teamwork and sharing of thoughts and information. Our belief that we could achieve great things by working together and by using the power of giving: giving resilience, giving knowledgeable solutions and, above all, giving hope. Q. What is one favorite or positive SAR-related memory from these past few months? A. One of my favorite memories from school this year evokes our community’s ability to build a new and positive reality for our children even in the most challenging of times. Our daughter Rona was in fifth grade and getting ready for Teva, her first overnight field trip. She was so disappointed that they would not be able to physically go and sleep away in nature, and the trip would be virtual. Her teachers sent her a special bandanna to wear on the day of the trip, and she got to choose between going on “the pond” or “wilderness” activity. By the end of the second day she told me, “Mommy this is so fun— I don’t want to go home.” I smiled and said, “ Rona you’re in our kitchen— you haven’t gone anywhere!” That is the magic of the SAR experience and the SAR staff -- the power of making dreams a reality. Q. SAR’s theme of the year is 'achrayut.' In your opinion, what is our responsibility to one another during complicated times? A. I think our responsibility to one another in these difficult times is to be sensitive “see-ers” who train themselves to be open-hearted and open- eyed. We’ve learned to reach out to people around us who are outside of our “bubble” and to recognize that we are all in this together. Whatever we are going through—emotional hardship or financial need or any other kind of distress—we are here! We are ready to see the people who need our help, to listen and to shed light wherever there is a need. Q. Who is/are your heroes? Who do you look up to and why? A. When thinking about my heroes, I find that I have not one, but many. They follow a common pattern. Each one sets a goal and keeps working hard to achieve it. My heroes are always learning, always exploring, and always sharing their knowledge. They are driven by the belief that they have a purpose, and they will do anything to live up to it. My father models resilience and the pursuit of excellence. My mother has taught me not to ever give up on your passion, even if the journey is long. I have friends whose original perspectives and profound wisdom inspire my family daily. I also derive great inspiration from public figures who make it their mission to make a difference in their fields.