Author Archives: polk@hamlin.org

5th Annual STEMming the Gender Gap Day

For the 5th year running, The Hamlin School celebrated STEMming the Gender Gap Day on Friday, December 6. The day was an opportunity to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education/careers for our students, while connecting with female tech leaders in the Bay Area. Hamlin girls were able to observe, interact, and learn, as they prepare to be tomorrow’s tech innovators and help #StemGenderGap!

This year Hamlin visited a variety of fantastic Bay Area organizations; we are incredibly thankful for these partnerships.

Students in grades K-7 had wonderful learning experiences at:

The Hiller Aviation Museum, The Bay Area Discovery Museum, Mission Science, The Apple Store, Butterfly Joint, Salesforce, UCSF, USS Hornet, Tesla, Sentry, and JU.ST

Students in Grade 8 had the opportunity to learn from the following speakers on campus:

Grade 5 Creates Human Emotion Personality Profiles

Grade 5 recently did a creative writing exercise based on Ruth Gendler’s Book of Qualities. With a partner, students created a “human personality profile” of a feeling. The collaborative thinking helped girls to better understand the nuances within moods and feelings.

Interview with Art Teacher: Maggie Jo Feldman

Maggie Jo Feldman is in her 7th year at The Hamlin School. She is the force behind a plethora of beautiful artwork that regularly adorns Stanwood throughout the year.

1) Tell us about your approach to teaching middle school art.

I believe that everyone can be an artist if they want to. I like to introduce a project/artist and have a discussion with students, getting them to explore an artist or technique so they can discover what is important about the work.  I also like to remind students that just because an artist is famous and in a museum, doesn’t mean you have to like them.  My classroom is built around the model of an art studio, there is a lot time for students to work individually and get into their work. So much of their day is about collaboration, it is nice for them to work solo and get to focus inward. I want my classroom to not only reflect the traditional studio environment, but also to be a different place than an academic classroom.

2) What do you enjoy most about working with young artists at Hamlin?

Hamlin students are pretty amazing in that they are really passionate about many things. They are so eager and excited to take on new challenges, especially if those challenges involve being creative and expressive. They come up with the most interesting things.  As a teacher, it is most satisfying to see girls complete a project that they initially thought was out of reach. I love seeing that surprise and happiness of completion.

3) Tell us about your own artwork, we’ve heard it has received recent accolades.

For the last 3 years I have been working extremely hard on developing work around the refugee crisis, and gun violence, while also looking into the language of the Constitution. I taught myself to sew and developed a style using free-motion embroidery. It has been exciting for me (after all these years of making art), to be acknowledged with exhibitions and awards for my work. This year I was awarded several awards. The one I’m most proud of was the honor for excellence in stitchery from the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh. My work has recently been shown in Rhode Island, Ohio, Virginia, San Rafael, Los Angeles, and is currently in an exhibition at the San Jose Museum of Quilt and Design. I also have a piece that is slated to be in an exhibition at the Fort Collins Museum of Art in 2020. Thanks for letting me brag. I guess I’m pretty excited about it all!

4) Who are your artistic influences?

I really love conceptual art and look to the work of Ai Weiwei, Yoko Ono, Joseph Beuys, Richard Long, and Glenn Ligon. When I was painting, I looked to Bay Area figurative artists such as Wayne Thibeaux and Richard Debunker.  These artists have influenced me over the years, but if you look at my work, I’m not sure you would see the influences.

5) What is one piece of advice that you can give a beginning artist?

Don’t compare yourself to others. Keep working. Keep looking. Keep being critical. Don’t forget to look at the world around you, it is totally inspiring. Draw from your own experience. There are many different styles, making things look realistic is not the only way. Carry a sketchbook.  Remember that learning to make art is much like learning anything. It takes practice, patience and some passion.

Grade 7 Explores Cubism

Cubism was an art movement that revolutionized European painting and sculpture in the early 20th century. The essence of Cubism is that instead of viewing subjects from a single, fixed angle, the artist breaks them up into a variety of areas, so that several different aspects of the subject can be seen simultaneously.

Cubism began in 1906 with two artists, Georges Braque (French) and Pablo Picasso (Spanish) who were living in Paris, France. They were both innovative artists in search of new ways to express space and form in painting. The two worked together closely until World War I broke out in 1914.

Grade 7 students studied the characteristics of Cubism by looking at examples of Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne and Georges Braque.

The project began by creating a drawing from a still life set up with Ukuleles. To get the effect of Cubism, lines were drawn across the paper, first to break up the space with the ukuleles shown from different vantage points. The drawings were then turned into paintings using a limited color pallet, which is one of the characteristics of a Cubism painting.

Grade 7 Explores Poetry in Social Studies

Grade 7 students are writing American History-themed poems in their Social Studies class. As a warm up activity girls wrote a free write with the prompt, Poetry is. In less than five minutes Emily M. wrote the above poem.

Nikki P. Cooper Speaks at Hamlin

On Monday students in grades K and 1 had the opportunity to meet children’s book author, Nikki P. Cooper.

Nikki P. Cooper is the author of Chocolate Covered Gratitude With Blessings on Top. It is a book that teaches children how gratitude for life’s simplest offerings can be the beginning of creating a life of purpose, abundance, and love. Nikki is the parent of Hamlin alum Anais Cooper ’19, owner of San Francisco’s first legacy business, Two Jack’s Nik’s Place (a restaurant), and the recipient of the 2019 NAACP Entrepreneur of the Year award. Her book will be available at our 12/7 Winterfest Book Fair.

Ms. Cooper read the illustrated story on a large screen while a couple of students joyously acted out the scenes.

To learn more about Ms. Cooper, please visit: https://nikkipcooper.com/home

Ocean Beach Habitat Restoration

Last week Grade 3 participated in habitat restoration at Ocean Beach. Girls worked diligently to clean up the beach, rejuvenating the natural beauty of our Pacific Coast. After the service trip students did reflective writing about their experience.

One girl wrote:

“It felt really good because we were having fun and we were helping the environment.”

Harpist Amelia Romano Visits Lower School

Last week music teacher Kate Roseman invited her friend Amelia Romano to visit the Lower School and give a harp demonstration.

An eclectic blend of austere serenity and kinetic vibrancy, Amelia Romano takes what is known about conventional harp and surpasses every time. Pulling from first-hand experiences in South Africa and from her roots in a cultural hotbed in San Francisco, Amelia not only plays music from the repertoire but also reprises them and creates originals. Latin, gypsy, jazz are all genres that she touches, but her music defines its own path.

Our students absolutely loved Ms. Romano’s visit.  If your child is interested in a trial lesson, please email her directly: contact@ameliaromano.com.  To learn more please visit: https://www.ameliaromano.com/

Spanish Class Visits Mission Cultural Center

As part of a Spanish Unit on el Día de los Muertos, all of Grade 5 traveled to the Mission District to tour the Mission Cultural Center and explore the murals of Balmy Alley. Docent Jesús Tecolotecpatl spoke with students about: indigenous beliefs around the concept of time, the environment, life/death, social justice, and immigration.

The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts was established in 1977 by artists and community activists with a shared vision to promote, preserve and develop the cultural arts that reflect the living tradition and experiences of the Chicano, Central and South American, and Caribbean people, and to make arts accessible as an essential element to community development and well-being.

For more information, please visit: https://missionculturalcenter.org/

Byrd Bannick Speaks About Gender Identity

November is Transgender Awareness Month. We were very lucky to have Byrd Bannick visit us last Friday to speak with middle school students in our GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance) group.

Byrd grew up in the South Bay, attended private schools, and then later graduated from Stanford University. Byrd spoke about growing up as a girl, explaining how he was teased for wanting to wear boy clothes in middle school. In his twenties, after many years of hiding his identity, Byrd cut his hair and began the process of transitioning from female to male.

Byrd spoke candidly about the psychological and physical struggles that he went (and continues to) go through. He spoke about the importance of self-love and having the courage to be who you really are. He answered student questions about being misgendered, his family relationships, and forging new friendships.

The afternoon provided a powerful and profound window into one person’s journey into self-discovery and finding true happiness.