Social and Emotional Role-Playing in Lower School

On Monday, Janice Tobin and Elizabeth McLeod from the Institute for Social and Emotional Learning worked with students in Grades 3 and 4.

Students had an opportunity to explore various facets of communication by role-playing with aggressive, passive, and assertive language. They focused on word choice and how body language is involved with communicating. One of the goals was to avoid being too passive or too aggressive.

Some communication examples:

Passive– head down, no eye contact

Aggressive– name calling, blaming

Assertive– strong tone, kind but direct

The Institute for Social and Emotional Learning will be speaking with Lower School parents at Hamlin on 2/12 and with Middle School parents on 2/13 (8:30am-10am both days). The Institute will be working with Middle School students in March.

For more information about their work, please visit:


Positive Coaching Alliance Speaks at Hamlin

On Friday, Carrie Zarraonandia from the Positive Coaching Alliance, spoke with our middle school students about using social media in life and with sports.

Carrie Zarraonandia was elected to the Marin County Athletic Hall of Fame for coaching and has been honored as a S.F. Bay Area Double-Goal Coach Winner and national Finalist. She has over 30 years of service to the United States Professional Tennis Association, and recently was awarded the 2017 NorCal Pro of the Year.  She is a “veteran” sports mom and taught three out of her five children to play tennis and enjoy the sport. 

Ms. Zarraonandia shared the following insights (among others):

-What you post on social media is important and shapes how you are perceived.

-The negative use of social media has real world consequences.

-You can use social media to be a positive influence.

She shared the following questions to ask before posting on social media:

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Unity Festival Celebration

On Thursday evening our Hamlin community gathered to celebrate the many cultures that make up the African Diaspora at our Unity Festival hosted by PLAID. (PLAID is a Hamlin Parent Association group focused on educating our community about diversity and promoting an inclusive environment).

The event featured: bracelet-making, opportunities to play mancala (a board game originally from Africa), Soul Food, heartfelt poetry readings by students Niyah, Kennedy, and Adella, and an invigorating dance performance. By the end of the evening students, parents, and faculty were all smiles and laughter as they danced together.

To learn more about PLAID, please visit:


Hamlin Student Lights Up The Ballroom Dance Stage

Annika (Grade 6) and her dance partner Nathan are currently highly ranked ballroom dancers competing on a global stage. The two began dancing in San Francisco in September 2014 at the SDA Sukachov Dance Academy. By the end of 2015 they were American Dance League’s couple of the year in Pre-Teen 1 category for two years in a row.

Annika has recently started competing in the Junior category where the competition is tough and the dancers are older. Even though they’ve only been competing in this new category since July they have already won numerous regional and national competitions including winning in the West Coast Junior Olympics and placing 2nd in the country at one of USA’s most competitive national competitions. They have competed in Paris, and London, and will be dancing in Vienna (Austria) next week.

We had a chance to interview Annika.

How did you get started with dancing?

My mom signed me up for a dance camp. At first it started as an after school hobby, but soon became one the most important things in my life.

What do you like most about dancing?

I love that after each competition I become more and more hungry to improve. Nathan and I are always working to be our best.

What is your training like?

I practice every single day of the week, 2-5 hours a day. Some days we go through our whole routine, other days I’m in a group class. During the week I also do one on one sessions with my teachers. On Thursday I do a stretch class with ballet. The training works your core, your rib cage; you have to pay attention to every aspect of the human body in motion. Nathan and I will also watch YouTube videos of other dancers to get inspiration.

Do you ever get nervous before a competition?

I do sometimes get nervous, you should always be a little nervous so that you know you are ready and not overconfident. Our teachers pump us up by getting us to focus on the process of dancing, not the result. They don’t want us to dance better than the other couple; they want us to do better than our previous performances, to compete with ourselves.

What are your future dance goals?

I have a lot of goals. I would like to be a National champion in Juniors I and II in Ballroom. I would like to be top 3 at the competition in Blackpool, London. I would like to be a world champion.

Author of “Mastering Civility” Speaks At Hamlin

On Monday, Wanda M. Holland Greene welcomed Dr. Christine Porath, who spoke with faculty members about her book, Mastering Civility: A Manifesto For The Workplace. Our faculty read the book over the summer, so this was the perfect way to start 2019 with a focus on this year’s theme, What You Do Matters.

Christine Porath is Associate Professor of Management at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. Dr. Porath travels the world working with leading organizations such as Google and the International Monetary Fund to help them solve the vexing problem of incivility.

Dr. Porath shared the following insights (among others):

-People who are treated poorly in the workplace are much more likely to: decrease their effort, not work as much, and quit.

-Those who experience incivility perform worse than those who are treated with respect.

-Even people who witness incivility are impacted and perform worse at their jobs.

-Rudeness/incivility is on the rise.

-Stress is the #1 reason why people say they are rude to others.

-Doing the little positive things makes a difference in the workplace. These include: smiling, saying hello, listening attentively, sharing credit, thanking people publicly and with written correspondence. These actions can create waves of positivity that can continue throughout the day and improve an organization holistically.

-People judge you first on the warmth of your personality.

-Studies have shown that civil people have a higher social status and a larger/broader human network.

To assess your own civility in the workplace and learn more about Dr. Porath’s work, please visit:




Hamlin Performs: “Little Women”

The Middle School ASA theater class performed a holiday scene from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. The scene is set a few days before Christmas in 1861. It starts with the four March sisters (Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy) missing their father, who is away fighting in the American Civil War and will not be home for Christmas. The family is tight on money without their father’s income, so the sisters are worried that their Christmas will not be a good one. Later some beggar children show up and help them remember the true meaning of the holidays.

Little Women is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888), which was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. Alcott wrote the books over several months at the request of her publisher. Following the lives of the four March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy—the novel details their passage from childhood to womanhood and is loosely based on the author and her three sisters.

Dissection in Lower School Science

Grade 1 scientists performed their very first dissection last week as a culmination of their adaptations unit. The girls dissected a squid and observed the beak, ink sac, tentacles with suction cups, chromatophores for camouflage, fins, and siphon. They even used a part of squid anatomy called the pen to write with the ink. Squid pens, or gladii, are the vestigial internal shell of squid. They’re used primarily to support squids’ muscular tissues and organs. The flexible pen allows for jet propulsive swimming. Squeals of joy filled the room as several young scientists exclaimed, “this is the best day of my life!”

Another group of impressive young scientists completed their cow eye dissection last week. As part of the learning, we had an incredibly engaging guest speaker, Dr. Krista Ramonas. The girls were so inspired by her presentation. They asked many thought-provoking questions and approached the dissection with the maturity and interest of true scientists. They said their favorite parts were the tapetum lucidum, optic nerve, vitreous humor, and lens.

Hamlin Presents: “The Girl Who Cried Wolf”

On December 17, students in Grades 3 and 4 performed the play, The Girl Who Cried Wolf.

In this one-act stage adaptation of Aesop’s fable, a girl chooses ill-gotten thrills over responsibility to her family. 

The play dealt with many important social-emotional learning themes like peer pressure, lying, and integrity in a fun and humorous way with talking sheep and wolves. The entertaining production also provided an opportunity for students to explore aspects of our creed, with a focus on Honesty, Responsibility, and Respect.

For more information about the play, please visit:


Grade 5 Recreates Gary Larson Cartoons

Recently, Grade 5 students worked to enlarge and recreate an image by Gary Larson using the grid method. They made a grid on a small image and on a large piece of paper. Students then copied and enlarged the original image.

The grid method is used to create accurate proportions. Proportion is the relationship of two or more elements in a design and how they compare with one another. Using a grid is a popular way to ensure that the proportions and layout of a drawing are correct. It is particularly useful when accuracy is important.

Gary Larson is an American cartoonist. He is the creator of The Far Side, a single-panel cartoon series that was syndicated internationally to over 1,900 newspapers for fifteen years. The series ended with Larson’s retirement on January 1, 1995.

Grade 2 Creates a Living Wall

When Ms. O’Brien moved into her new classroom, she looked out the window at the back of the climbing wall and the colorful mural and got inspiration for a living wall project. Ms. Ray had just returned from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where she had visited an amazing living wall at a nonprofit called “Vertical Harvest” and she thought a living wall sounded like a wonderful science/maker collaboration.

Ms. O’Brien. Ms. Ray, and Mr. Louie met to put this idea into motion. Planning out the project provided several rich opportunities for problem solving, such as using measurement skills to see where the wall would fit, figuring out how to provide sunlight and water for the plants, and how to protect the wood finish from water damage.

First, the 2nd graders worked with Mr. Louie in small groups to laser cut their name and an image of a flower onto a wooden panel. Then, they used clamps for woodworking and special glue to construct their boxes. In science class, they planted succulents in pots and carefully arranged rocks and shells around them to create miniature gardens. Ms. Lovejoy and Ms. Davis donated the succulent plants.

Phase one of the project is located in classroom 2OA while the girls finish planting their succulents. Phase two will be located in the lower school entry foyer across from Ms. Yeung’s desk. For the final phase of the project, the living wall will be mounted behind the climbing wall outside. This project is a wonderful example of the collaborative spirit that organically surrounds us at Hamlin every day.