Hamlin Teachers Present Inquiry Projects

With the leadership and help of Mark Picketts, Hamlin’s Director of Program Innovation and Professional Development, teachers explored learning this year through inquiry projects that they personally designed. As action researchers, teachers used data, research, and reflection, to investigate, modify, and improve their teaching practice. 27 participating teachers in the Inquiry Project Year shared their findings with colleagues at a year-end celebration of learning on June 19th. This type of reflective work serves to make Hamlin a learning institution that continues to grow and strive for excellence in a variety of areas.

The following are just some of the topics that were covered:

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Arianna Huffington Speaks at Hamlin Graduation

On June 16, Hamlin’s class of 2017 graduated on a beautiful late spring San Francisco day. We were honored to have Arianna Huffington give the keynote address. Arianna Huffington is a Greek American author, syndicated columnist, and businesswoman. Huffington was the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post.

Before Ms. Huffington’s speech, graduating students Maya P., Sarah H., and Ava L., spoke eloquently about fearlessness, common humanity, and the Hamlin creed. Ms. Huffington then shared several poignant remarks, many focused on how self-care and success go hand and hand.

She made the following points (among others):

-We need to take better care of ourselves than our smart phones.

-We need to change our language, no more “you snooze, you lose.”

-Get more sleep, sleep makes everything better, your social life and your grades.

-At night, turn off all your devices, gently escort them out of your bedroom.

-We are all addicted to our devices.

-The deepest wisdom and creativity comes from disconnecting from our devices.

-I have a quote by Rumi by my bedside, “Live life as though everything is rigged in your favor.”

-Life is shaped from the inside out, this is validated by modern science.

-Stay connected to the essence of who you are, your wisdom, where everything is possible.

Ms. Huffington concluded by stating, attend to your well-being, don’t let life’s mystery pass you by.

In Ms. Holland Greene’s closing words she said, how will you use your privilege to help others?      History has its eyes on you.

Click below to watch a portion of Ms. Huffington’s speech:



Leadership in Action: Symposium & Rise to the Challenge

Hamlin students are able to dynamically present knowledge and identify problems in the world, while coming up with creative solutions that integrate ideas from various sources of information. Grade 6 and 7 students use their skills in Science, Health, Math, Social Studies, Spanish, Technology and English to write and speak publicly about topics/issues facing our world both near and far.

The 6th grade Symposium is modeled after the Greeks and involves four weeks of intense study.  Students are able to select their own topic, do research, plan as a team, and deliver short formal presentations at the Century Club in San Francisco.  Students share their knowledge via Ted Talks, songs, spoken word poetry, public service announcements, and short documentary videos.  This year the following topics were covered: Human Trafficking, Women’s Role in the Development of Africa, Ancient/Imperial China, Propaganda in Government, Danger of a Single Story (Exploring Bias), Global Education for Women, Water Scarcity and Poverty, the Role of Identity in our Lives, the Cultural Revolution in China, and Gender Equity in Hollywood.

The 7th graders immerse themselves in Rise to the Challenge (RTC).  They have the opportunity to choose their own topics, do in-depth research, then share their findings, providing short and long term solutions to various problems.  Most teams use social media to generate awareness, including videos, websites, blogs, Twitter, Change.org, and Instagram.  This year RTC addressed the following topics: Homelessness in San Francisco, Reducing College Sexual Assault, Challenges Facing the Use of Drones, Access to Clean Water Globally, Access to Education for Girls Globally, the Impact of Plastics in our Oceans, Overfishing, Income Inequality Between Genders, Improving Public Education in San Francisco, Challenges Facing Transgender People, Technology and our Health, and the Syrian Refugee Crisis.

Below is a video from the RTC group, Hope for Homelessness:

As part of their research, Grade 7 students had the opportunity to interview individuals from several incredible organizations, special thanks to the following people:

Shiza Shahid (The Malala Fund), Ellie Adelman (Women Girls Lead Global), Tihana Vucur, (Blue World Institute of Marine Research and Conservation, Adriatic Dolphin Project) Rufaro Kangai, (Global Fund for Women), Stacy Webb (Compass Family Services), Michelle Parker (San Francisco Parent Political Action Commitee), Bevan Dufty (San Francisco Politician and Leader), Leyla Ghaffari (Project Homeless Connect) Candace Yu (YouTube for Good), Suzanne Goldberg (Columbia University) Betty Nyagoha (The Amani Institute) Lila LaHood and Daphne Magnawa (San Francisco Public Press)


Wonderland Film: Starring Audrey Hui, ’16

We had a chance to catch up with Audrey Hui, ’16 and learn about her passion for acting. Audrey is currently attending San Francisco University High School and recently played the role of Adeline in the short film, Wonderland.

Stranded in Sin City for Christmas, 12-year-old Adeline struggles to keep her mother’s gambling under control, all for the promise of a perfect family holiday once her father arrives.

Wonderland was filmed in Las Vegas, and was directed by Tiffanie Hsu. Audrey had the opportunity to act in the film with her mother Joan Chen. Ms. Chen has appeared in a number of movies and TV shows during her illustrious career.

During our conversation, Audrey shared the following:

I enjoy acting, it is a passion of mine, I love being different characters, the entire process, learning lines, blocking, I like all of it. 

My mom doesn’t have a “normal” job, I get to see a different her, her passion, her intensity. I get to witness her serious dedication, she helps me better understand how my character feels. My mom guides me, I can take constructive criticism from her well. It can also be weird, we will be happy off camera, then have a tense scene where I have to be mad at her.

Mainstream movies have barely any Chinese women in lead roles. I want to see Chinese women play roles beyond being a sidekick or best friend. So many movies use Asian stereotypes and portray characters the same way in every film, if they are even represented at all. 

Hamlin shaped me, a lot of who I am right now is thanks to Hamlin. 

To watch the trailer for Wonderland, please visit: https://vimeo.com/189999889

Below is brief video of Audrey speaking about Wonderland:


Coding & Robotics @ Hamlin

The video below demonstrates some of the different tools that we use to teach coding, robotics, and computational thinking here at Hamlin:

To learn more about our work see our Scope & Sequence here.

Candace Yu ’96 Speaks about YouTube for Good

On May 25, Hamlin alumna board member Candace Yu ’96 spoke with current 7th graders about her work with YouTube for Good. 7th graders are embarking on their Rising to the Challenge projects next week, so the timing was perfect for learning about the power of video to communicate important ideas.

What you do as a single individual matters,” Ms. Yu stated. She learned this from her Grade 4 Women in History project, where she represented Eleanor Roosevelt. Ms. Yu went on to share other facets of her life, playing basketball at Hamlin, an internship with the office of Dianne Feinstein, jobs focused on election policy and international security in Washington, D.C., spending time working both in the Obama White House, and at the Pentagon. Throughout her journey she has never lost sight of her mission to “always help others.

Ms. Yu then showed a couple of short videos explaining how YouTube brings nonprofits to their platform to tell stories about both local (finding homes for lost dogs in California) and global (spreading awareness about the war in Syria) issues. With more than 1 billion users and more than 1 billion hours of video watched each day, it is clear that the YouTube platform is enormous and impactful.

Ms. Yu went on to speak briefly about her role at YouTube for Good where she is part of the breaking news and crisis response teams, while also working with documentaries that address social/environmental topics like global warming. After her presentation, Ms. Yu fielded many thoughtful student questions.

For more information about YouTube for Good, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/user/nonprofits

Below is a video of Candace Yu taken earlier this school year:

An Interview with Wanda Holland Greene: Speaking about PLAID (Part 2)

This Interview was conducted and condensed by Hamlin parent, Demi Seguritan.

How have your personal experiences shaped your feelings about being authentic?

I grew up in a home where there was a tremendous amount of pride and an insistence upon authenticity. There was an insistence that we not just collapse into our own ethnic group and racial category.

One day, my father literally took a sign off of a tree that said, “School integration program. African-American students needed.” In the 70s, the public schools in New York City had to integrate according to the law. He said, “Donna and Wanda are going to be a part of this busing program, because in addition to being proud of who they are, they have to navigate the world, and I want them to understand that rich connections with people unlike you are possible.”

The head of the school, Milton Schwartz, was one of the most incredible leaders I have ever met. He paid attention to the policies of the school, the time that meetings happened, access to programs, and academic support.  He made it clear that, “I see you. I’m not going to invite you to this school and then make it impossible for your parents to connect with the teachers or make it impossible for you to really participate in the extracurricular activities.” His example of leadership, and my parents’ insistence that we go to that school and not the neighborhood school, let me know my parents wanted me to be proud of myself and yet always creating community with others. They wanted their daughters to be a part of a community where exchange, connection, and courageous risk-taking was the expectation.

Your experience speaks to the learned skill of cultural competency, just as sports foster teamwork and group projects encourage collaborative learning. These soft skills are inadvertently nurtured and proven to further academic excellence and workplace success. How is the mission of diversity and inclusion able to hone skills to empower our girls to be happy and succeed in life?

Cultural competence is a skill that needs to be practiced. Going to school every day and having to practice talking with people who are different and getting to know their stories are important tasks. Yes, cultural competence is a skill. If the girls here don’t have that, they’re going to be lost in this world that is increasingly global.  The sooner we get girls comfortable being their authentic selves, then we have a smooth path to academics and social-emotional learning. I want Hamlin girls to always envision what is possible. I dwell in possibility.

As a parent-led committee, PLAID will introduce broader programming to engage more of its parent community. How will PLAID help establish a safe place to voice different perspectives in which we are able to celebrate ourselves and in turn embrace others?

Part of the answer is truly walking the walk. We can say anything and put anything on a brochure, but how we do business each day and what we emphasize and what we talk about and what we celebrate is basically our articulation of culture. The way things are done each day amounts to the culture of the school.

The more we message through the programming that this conversation is for everybody, the better off we will be. In addition to policies, procedures and systems, we have to recognize that people are at different levels of growth and varying levels of comfort. While we’re having conversations about community, we have to recognize that there are different levels of self-awareness.

For instance, I thought it was so wonderful when we had over 100 people at our Lunar New Year’s celebration because it’s a relatively “low barrier” event. That means that it is easy to walk through the door– no one’s asking you to share your personal story in public, even though you could in an informal way. When you’re talking, and everybody else is talking and eating and being in fellowship together, connective tissue grows. On the other hand, our films tend to be about deeper societal issues. We have loved the movies we’ve shown about gender, learning differences, adoption, religion, race, and physical disabilities. Those conversations require participants to dig a little bit deeper. That said, you’re also able to talk about the film and not about yourself. That’s a “medium barrier” event. Then we have dialogues, which are more for people who really want to “go there,” go deeper. There will be dialogues that we sponsor that focus on issues of race and ethnicity and culture and religion, and PLAID is the forum where we all celebrate our authentic selves as a community. I think that’s how you get people in the door. You create a variety of pathways into the conversation. We recognize our differences and common ground, and we recognize that everybody is a work in process– under construction.

What are you excited about and hope the Hamlin community will see from PLAID in the foreseeable future?

I’m excited about the energy and creativity I am seeing. I’m excited that more people are talking about PLAID. I’m excited about the fact that we are really tracking who’s showing up because we want to see the numbers growing. We want the data to reflect our mission of inclusion. In years past, depending on the film, depending on the night, depending on the dialogue, you’d get somewhere between 20 and 50 people in attendance. It looks like we’re starting to accomplish the goal of broadening our outreach.  I’m excited that the parents of young children are involved, and I see that they are fired up to really take PLAID to the next level. I think carefully about the words of PLAID’s mission statement. My favorite three words in the mission statement for PLAID are ‘all, celebrate and authentic’. As soon as that becomes the easy roll off the tongue language, we will be in excellent shape. Someone will ask, “What’s PLAID?” And the common and enthusiastic response will be, “It’s the organization that helps Hamlin and all our families celebrate their authentic selves.”

Jan Micha Women in History Program

When you walk a mile in the footsteps of greatness, you too can become great. For many years Grade 4 Hamlin students have taken the stage in front of their peers and parents, giving voice to inspiring women who came before them. Students select a woman from history, do extensive research from multiple sources, then embody that person, presenting in character with substance, poise and eloquence. When Hamlin alumnae come back to visit, they often cite their Women in History presentation as an enduring hallmark of their education.

This year students are representing the following women:

Suffragists, Abolitionists, and Social Activists:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, Angela Davis

Educators, Writers, and Journalists:

Martha Foote Crow, Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller, Mercy Otis Warren, Barbara Walters, Nellie Bly, Ida Tarbell


Margaret E. Knight, Mary Edwards Walker, Laurie Marker, Sylvia Earle, Matilda Moldenhauer Brooks, Rachel Carson, Elizabeth Blackwell, Dian Fossey, Helen Fairchild, Clara Barton

Mathematicians and Computer Scientists:

Grace Hopper, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson

Visual Artists and Performing Artists:

Maya Lin, Harriet Powers, Marian Anderson, Audrey Hepburn, Shirley Temple, Misty Copeland, Isadora Duncan


Wilma Rudolph, Katherine Switzer, Cathy Reese, Bethany Hamilton


Christina Tosi, Lillian Moller Gilbreth, Juliette Gordon Low, Oprah Winfrey


Deborah Sampson, Sybil Ludington, Belle Boyd, Queen Liliuokalani, Madeleine Albright, Abigail Adams, Michelle Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt

Grade 1 Community PBL Unit

There is so much I love about this unit. It has happened each year I have been at Hamlin, but as it is exemplary student-centered learning in action – it’s as different every year as the students who make the learning happen.

This year Rachel Davis did an incredible job in documenting the work and reflections of the Grade 1 students and their teachers, enjoy –

Thanks to all the teachers that came together and designed this learning experience!

Hamlin 6th Grader Wins “Growing Up Asian in America” Contest

Hamlin 6th grader Abbie C., recently had her awards ceremony for placing first for her poster artwork in the annual Growing Up Asian in America contest. Abbie gave a confident acceptance speech about the theme of food insecurity for children (her poster about the topic appears above).

Abbie has entered this contest every year since second grade. Each year she has placed or received an honorable mention. This is the second time Abbie’s poster has won first place in her age category.

Growing Up Asian in America provides a unique platform for young people to creatively explore and celebrate being both Asian or Pacific Islander and American.

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