By Wyndi Kappes
Aviva Stern believes in the power of creativity and family. The glue and matriarch of her family of ten, Stern began her career as a professional dancer. She performed in Israel and New York, later transitioning to the visual arts after her three children were born.
“It was then that I began my next chapter: teaching visual arts to children. Once I had my children and grandchildren, I often loved leading art projects both with their friends and their classmates,” Stern recalled. What started as fun evenings spent painting with her children and their friends quickly blossomed into her sculpting young artistic minds at The Epstein School.
Over several years working as a teacher at The Epstein School and artist at the Marcus Jewish Community Center, Stern has made an impact on the lives of hundreds of students and upcoming artists. “As a mother and an art teacher in the classroom, I challenged myself to find what motivated each student in their self-expression,” she noted. “I have seen the medium positively contribute to the support and development of children, changing their lives and their futures in ways big and small.”
While now retired from The Epstein School—focusing primarily on her role as grandma to six little ones—Stern still works to encourage others to support the arts. “I feel it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that the arts programs in our schools are not cut. Art curricula offer opportunities that are so important to the growth and development of our children,” she said.
Outside of her work as an award-winning artist and advocate, Stern also volunteers at St. Joseph’s Hospital each Christmas Day, along with other Jewish people, to let the staff who celebrate Christmas be home with their families. Not only a relief for hospital workers, Stern believes that modeling philanthropic behavior for her children and grandchildren has been vital in encouraging them and others to stay true to their passions and stay active in causes they believe in.
Throughout her journey as a mother and philanthropist, Stern says her family and community have been a tremendous source of support. She acknowledges that mothers seldom like to acknowledge when they need help and looks to her family and friends to assist when needed. “I am so lucky that, even during challenging times, my family has always been so supportive of me in every way,” she added.