Sears School’s Helfand towers as a leader

Dr. Stephanie Helfand ’06 misses greeting students each morning at The Joseph Sears School in Kenilworth (Illinois).

The interim assistant principal and future principal at the pre-kindergarten-eighth grade school yearns to hear the students tickle the ivories of the piano located near the building’s front entrance again.

She also craves for the other familiar and delightful sounds of the hallways’ soundtrack on school days, notably the dueling choruses of chatter and laughter.

But The Joseph Sears School community—staff, teachers, students, and families of students— doesn’t feature a PAUSE button. It pooled its steely commitment and altruism and launched The Giving Back Project at the dawn of the pandemic, on March 23.

Helfand earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at UIU’s Des Moines Center. Her story was recently featured in the Daily North Shore, a community news website covering the North Shore suburbs of Chicago. The story can be viewed at

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