Category Archives: PLAID

Elsa and Jarron Collins: Activism, NBA and Parenting

Monday night, Hamlin parents and faculty members gathered to learn from a dynamic and altruistic power couple, Elsa and Jarron Collins. The evening was our first PLAID event centered on this year’s school theme, What You Do Matters.

PLAID’s mission is to support a vibrant and inclusive environment in which all members of the community can celebrate their authentic selves. We foster open dialogue through family programs, parent education, and community outreach.

Raised on both sides of the border (San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico), Elsa Collins was the fifth of five children. Both her parents were born in Mexico. She is a first generation college graduate. She earned her BA in Communications and a MA in Sociology from Stanford University (where she met Jarron). She then pursued a JD from Columbia Law School.

Ms. Collins is the Co-founder of The Ideateur, a social impact and political consulting group focused on sports, culture and the entertainment space, helping clients construct a strategy to address the issues they care about. She works closely with groups like My Brother’s Keeper, Voto Latino, and Rock the Vote, fighting for equality in all spheres.

Jarron Collins is an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors, having joined the team prior to the 2014-15 Championship campaign as a player development coach. Collins played 10 seasons in the NBA with the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers.

Collins attended Stanford University, where he was a two-time All-American and finished his Stanford career in the top ten all time in four career categories: rebounds, blocked shots, field-goal percentage and games played.

Elsa and Jarron Collins shared thoughts about: raising children of color (they have two daughters and a son), being activist community members, and how professional athletes can develop and use their platforms for the benefit of others.

The following is some of what they shared:

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Hamlin Celebrates Holi

On Sunday 110 people celebrated Holi at PLAID’s final festive event of the year. Students participated in art projects, including drawing henna, with everyone enjoying wonderful Indian food and music.

Holi is a Hindu festival that marks the arrival of spring. Known widely as the Festival of Colour, it takes place over two days, and is a celebration of fertility, colour, and love, as well as the triumph of good versus evil.

After finishing lunch, parents and students were given cups of colored edible powder to throw in good spirit and fun.

This event was held at Marina Middle School. The video below captures a slice of this delightful experience.

To learn more about PLAID, please visit:


Parenting During Turbulent Times: A Conversation

On April 10, forty people gathered at The Hamlin School for a rich discussion focused on parenting during stressful times. The world has always contained choppy waters, but current “challenges of our time” bring the turbulence of ecological disasters, school shootings, sexual harassment, institutional racism, and other ongoing events that erode our resilience.

Wanda M. Holland Greene and Nisa Frank led a profound conversation focused on parenting with perspective, reflection, and optimism.

Here are some of the core ideas that surfaced:

-There is a delicate balance between protecting innocence and having a child be ignorant.

-It is important to have a plan for discussing current events with your child.

-Turbulent times exist in the neighborhoods of some children.

-We must continue to ask questions about our own fears. Underneath our fear of school shootings is the idea that not everyone in our society is well. Rather than get into all of the specifics about shootings, we can lead from our value of “equity” and tell our children that there are unwell people with unmet needs.

-Rather than allowing fear to rule our thinking about homelessness, we can teach our children empathy, optimism, and compassion to act to help others.

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PLAID Celebrates Lunar New Year 2018

On the evening February 13, over 150 community members gathered at The Hamlin School to celebrate Lunar New Year with home-cooked food and festive cheer. The uplift and positive energy was palpable, with smiles beaming out in all directions.

For Chinese, in China and in ethnic communities around the world, the lunar new year is the most important and most festive holiday of the year. Through centuries of China’s agrarian tradition, this was the one period when farmers could rest from their work in the fields. Family members from near and far would travel to be with loved ones in time to usher out the old year and welcome in the new, with great celebratory flourish. With a calendar dating from the third millennium BCE, the Chinese people have for thousands of years been building on ancient customs of New Year celebrations. Although they may vary from region to region, village to village, and even family to family according to social position, many of these customs are still observed. Today, all over China, during what is now commonly referred to as the Spring Festival, passenger trains, buses, and river boats are packed with holiday travelers; shops do a flurry of business selling gifts, new clothes, and festive foods; kitchens are bustling with preparations for elaborate feasts; and streets are filled with the sounds of firecrackers and seasonal greetings.

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A Night of Music from the African Diaspora

On the evening of January 10, just a few days before Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, PLAID (a Hamlin Parent Association group focused on educating our community about diversity and promoting an inclusive environment) teamed up with MoAD (Museum of the African Diaspora) to celebrate music and togetherness.

Close to 150 people (adults and children) enjoyed delicious soul food provided by Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement, then gathered in Stanwood’s Great Hall to listen to the riveting Marcelle Davies-Lashley and her dynamic all-female band. Before the music, Executive Director of the MoAD, Linda Harrison, addressed the rapt audience, providing a wonderful overview of all that her museum has to offer our San Francisco Bay Area community.

Before playing, Ms. Davies-Lashley gave a brief but comprehensive history of African-American music, from the 1800’s until our present day. After speaking, Ms. Davies-Lashley merged with the past, using her powerful vocal ability and presence to channel the energy of artists like Nina Simone, Roberta Flack, and Stevie Wonder. The audience participated in call and response, clapping, and dancing, moved by the songs of struggle and hope. At one point in the evening Ms. Holland-Greene (Head of The Hamlin School) joined the band, playing the tambourine with joy that was palpable.

The Museum of the African Diaspora is open with free admission on January 15th in honor of Dr. King’s birthday. To learn more about the museum, please visit:

To learn more about Marcelle Davies-Lashley and watch her perform, please visit:


Parents Association & PLAID: Creating Community Through Dialogue

On November 15, a thoughtful group of 57 Hamlin parents came together to role play and talk about ways to further enrich our inclusive community. The event included members of our Parents Association and our PLAID parent group.

Parents were given the following scenario:

A kindergarten mom sends out an email to the class parent email group inviting fellow moms to a “Moms’ Mimosa Brunch.” The invitation reads:

Date: Wednesday, October 17, 2017

To: Class of 2026 Parents

From: Mom Host

Subject: Moms’ Mimosa Brunch

Hey Moms,

Let’s celebrate surviving the first two months of school with a moms’ mimosa brunch at The New Restaurant on Union Street (in San Francisco). The cost is $100 per person and includes food, beverage, and use of the room for our brunch. Join us Wednesday, October 24, 2017 at 11:00am. Please RSVP to me by Monday the 22nd so we can adjust our reservation as needed.

Hope to see you all there!

Cheers, Mom Host

After reading the invitation, participants responded based on the role that they were given. In some roles parents were offended, while other participants were designated to see nothing wrong with the invitation.

During the role play, parents answered the question: How do you feel and why? 

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PLAID Shows The Film: Class Divide

On October 18, PLAID showed the film Class Divide as part of their ongoing film series.

PLAID’s mission is to support a vibrant and inclusive environment in which all members of the community can celebrate their authentic selves. 

We foster open dialogue through family programs, parent education, and community outreach.

Class Divide highlights the recent effects of hyper-gentrification in New York City’s West Chelsea, focusing on an intersection where an elite private school (Avenues) sits directly across the street from public housing projects.

The film made the following points (among others):

-Wealthy people can often feel poor in relation to others who are more well off

-The creation of the High Line walking area in New York City led to rapid gentrification

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Hurricane Relief Bake Sale

Guest post by Hamlin parents, Wayne and Marina.

When the various hurricanes hit over the past few weeks, the devastation they had on those regions did not go unnoticed in our household. Ella, our 6-year-old, was especially affected by what happened — saddened by the sight of homes under water and the thought of people losing everything they have (including their pets!).

A few days ago she approached us and asked, “Can we do something to help the people hurt by the hurricanes?” So we talked about the various things we could do to show our support and agreed to host a bake sale and donate all proceeds to hurricane relief.

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PLAID Voices: An Interview with Christopher Tan

PLAID’s mission is to support a vibrant and inclusive environment in which all members of the community can celebrate their authentic selves. 

PLAID fosters open dialogue through family programs, parent education, and community outreach.

We recently had the opportunity to interview PLAID Co-chair, Christopher Tan.

1) Why is PLAID’s work important to you?

My wife and I have two precious daughters, one in 2nd grade and one in Kindergarten. While they are just starting out on their journeys through life, it is likely that Hamlin will be the organization with which we will have the longest affiliation. Our girls will be spending their formative ages here, so of course we want to expend every effort to help foster a healthy school community! Also, part of our daughters’ education is learning how to operate in a global environment (notwithstanding the current lurch towards nationalism). To thrive in an increasingly connected world, our girls must:

-gain exposure to cultural, socioeconomic, and other differences
-learn how to navigate through them
-find common cause with other individuals
-but also retain their core values

PLAID’s twin goals of broadening perspectives and deepening connections within the Hamlin community are very much in line with our personal philosophy… so I don’t really think of it as “work.” 🙂

2) Tell us something about yourself as it relates to PLAID.

I grew up in Singapore and lived there for 20 years before moving to the United States. Singapore is a small nation of 5 million Chinese, Indians, Malays and Eurasians; a former British colony, it gained its independence in 1965. With no common culture and no natural resources, Singapore was “not supposed to exist” (to quote the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the country’s first Prime Minister). However, great pains were taken to promote community—we were always encouraged to participate in birthdays, weddings, funerals, and religious celebrations of other races, for example—and to instill a sense of common destiny. I believe that this has been a key factor of Singapore’s success: people worked hard together to build a country that in 50 years has gone from mosquito-infested tropical backwater, to a first world country with a GDP per capita rivaling Norway and Switzerland.

At Hamlin, I see strong parallels that have contributed to its success. We may come from very different backgrounds, but we share a common mission (to “educate girls to meet the challenges of their time”) and espouse the same values of compassion, courage, honesty, respect and responsibility. When Judy Ching asked me to consider joining the team, and I found out that PLAID’s objective is to help weave the many threads of Hamlin families into one community, I jumped at the opportunity to contribute!

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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.”