Kiva Visits Grade 7 Hamlin Students

On March 21, our Spanish department hosted two representatives from Kiva, Catherine Vo and Olivia Cornfield. Kiva is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization with a global reach.  Kiva’s mission is to connect individual lenders with people around the world who need micro loans to improve their lives through small businesses, education, green energy, and a number of other projects.

Kiva relies on volunteer translators to communicate borrowers’ needs. Many seeking loans are from Spanish-speaking countries. Our Grade 7 students spent time in Spanish class learning about Kiva and using language skills to translate sample loan profiles from Spanish into English. This use of the Spanish language is powerful and allows students to apply their understanding of vocabulary to real life situations.

Ms. Cornfield and Ms. Vo shared a brief history of Kiva, highlighted borrower profiles, and shared specifics about three Kiva-supported organizations (Sanergy, Sistema Biobolsa, Solar Sister). Hamlin girls then asked questions about how borrowers are vetted and how repayment works.

The afternoon culminated with our students receiving codes in order to lend $25 to a borrower of their choice.

In video below, students are selecting a loan recipient:

To learn more about Kiva, please visit:


Kindergarten Visits Jane the Bakery

A Hamlin Kindergarten class (Ortiz/Burnett) has been focusing their emergent class study on baking. This study is based on student interest through questions, observations, and curiosity. When possible, baking is integrated into various aspects of class, including math, science, and writing. The class has been baking bread all year long with a bread-making machine, but visiting Jane the Bakery (on Geary Street), provided students with an engaging firsthand experience.

Born from a deep-seated love of all things culinary, Amanda Michael founded JANE to satisfy her passion and deliver memorable experiences to the many loyal and transient guests who have come to love the institution. Amanda’ s career in food and hospitality spans decades and she has spent many years cooking and baking in a myriad of restaurants.

Amanda opened Jane on Fillmore in February 2011 with the mission of serving top quality coffee, pastries, breakfast and lunch. We serve healthy food with an emphasis on flavor and quality of ingredients. Everything is made fresh daily from scratch.

Jane on Larkin opened in 2013 and our expanded space allowed us to introduce our own line of breads in addition to our house-made pastries. We also introduced our full catering department.

In late 2016, Jane the Bakery opened, allowing us to expand our bakery program even more. We bake several dozen breads daily as well as a full line of laminated items and pastries. Our breads and pastries have quickly gained recognition as some of the best you can find.

As part of their Jane experience students:

-Watched the baking of baguettes

-Watched the baking of cookies

Continue reading

Building Ballet Barres in Kindergarten

Earlier this week, Ms. O’Brien’s Kindergarten class followed a blueprint, took measurements, and built two ballet barres with the help of Mr. Louie.

Ms. O’Brien shares:

Our class chose dance as their focus for the class emergent study. This study is based on the girl’s questions, observations, and interests. When possible, dance is integrated into all units of study (math, reading, writing, investigations/social studies, and social and emotional learning). In a ‘persuasive writing’ activity, the girls wrote a letter to Mr. Louie requesting his assistance in engineering a ballet barre for our classroom so the girls had a proper space to “warm up.” Mr. Louie accepted and guided the girls throughout the design thinking project.

Below is a photo of the written request from the students to Mr. Louie:

More about our Maker Program:

The Hamlin School Maker Program is designed to deliver moments of impact where girls engage in real world problem solving through Human Centered Design Thinking. Students become problem seekers, focusing on community empathy and collaboration, using ongoing client feedback to drive the direction of their projects. Through their Maker work, our girls work diligently with tools, while developing a new lens by which to see possibility, adaptation, and innovation.





Building Community in Grade 1

Grade 1 students have spent much of their school year exploring San Francisco and the people who live in our city. Students began by asking: How can we demonstrate good citizenship in our local community? Girls took walks around the Hamlin neighborhood in order to: make observations, think about the needs of a community, and speak with people who live and work nearby. 1st graders looked at different kinds of maps, made their own maps, and followed maps on the neighborhood walks. The girls also had an opportunity to explore their own home neighborhoods and teach their peers about what they discovered through creating poster boards with photos.

As part of this work, students conducted interviews with community members taking on various roles such as: interviewer, microphone expert, and photographer. Core to this project-based learning endeavor was the integration of technology for conducting interviews and sharing findings. Students utilized GarageBand, QR codes, and the Cardboard Camera app (among others). Hamlin’s tech team has been working with 1st grade teachers for multiple years to support and strengthen this far-reaching pedagogy.

Continue reading

Students Participate in the National School Walkout

On March 14, Hamlin students walked in silence for 17 minutes, joining a nation of young people from around the United States.

The nationwide protest was both a memorial and protest action. Students and teachers across the United States walked out of their schools and universities to honor the lives of the 17 people killed at Stoneman Douglas and pressed lawmakers to pass stricter gun control laws, according to EMPOWER, the group organizing the action. -CNN

The idea to join the National School Walkout came directly from Hamlin students who received the call to act from their peers around the country. Older students were given the option to join the walkout and or write letters to students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School or government politicians.

A Hamlin student shares:

This walkout shows that we are not afraid to stand up for something that is important to us, gun control is important to us. This is a student-led movement. The fact my friends and I had to do this shows that our country needs our help and leadership.

Below is a letter written by the Head of The Hamlin School regarding the National School Walkout.

“The ‘Mane’ Idea”
Reflections by Head of School Wanda M. Holland Greene
Walk the Talk

I have a powerful letter from the Hamlin archives in my school office, written by Kate Hamlin, and it tells the story of the day her audacious older sister Sarah walked out of school because she was outraged by injustice. Sarah Dix Hamlin was about 10 years old at the time, and she had heard that there was a man in Westford, MA who was abusing his wife in drunken rages. Sarah’s young mind had made the connection between alcohol consumption and domestic violence, and she saw herself as an active part of the Temperance Movement. Instead of going home as usual, Sarah walked out of school and went directly to the house where the couple lived and banged on the door. Kate writes in the letter that Sarah was not successful in her attempt to seek justice, and she scared their parents half to death when she was late arriving home.

This childhood story reminds me of the feisty DNA of our founder and the lofty mission of our school: “The Hamlin School educates girls to meet the challenges of their time, and inspires them to become extraordinary thinkers and innovators, courageous leaders, and women of integrity.” Our mission guides all of our decisions, both large and small, and it is critically important to be wise and deliberate as we address the significant challenges of our time.

As Head of School, I want to share two thoughts with the entire community before I describe our K-8 plan for the Day of Action and National School Walkout on Wednesday, March 14. My dual purpose in writing is to place our K-8 plan into a larger context and to invite us to use this national response to gun violence as a way to reinforce Hamlin’s mission and core values.

First, I want to say that there are numerous causes for which we could walk out of school for 17 minutes or perhaps longer. You may remember that I began the 2017-18 school year singing “Make it Rain” and reflecting on the deep-seated racism we saw in Charlottesville as well as the painful sting of bias my family and I sometimes experience as African-Americans living in Pacific Heights. Gender inequality and sexual harassment have grabbed national attention with #MeToo and #TimesUp, and the Women’s Marches have drawn thousands of feminists out of their homes and into the streets. The Black Lives Matter movement, fueled by youth who are demanding an end to police brutality, is doing its work in cities across the nation. Attorney and author Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative continue their quest to end mass incarceration and to reform the criminal justice system. People defending DACA continue to bring pressure to bear on the government to reform immigration policy. Another large group of Nigerian girls were abducted from their school several days ago by Boko Haram, thereby re-energizing the #BringBackOurGirls movement. Given the recent tragedy in Yountville, I am quite certain that California residents will be discussing mental illness and care for veterans in the coming weeks and months. Indeed, the challenges of our time are significant and numerous.

So, the question should be asked, “Why is Hamlin responding to the issues of gun violence and school safety and not other atrocities?” The answer is this: the school shooting in Parkland, Florida captured the attention and collective conscience of many of our girls, and they appealed with clarity and purpose to their school leaders and teachers for permission to do something. Given our mission to develop courageous leaders and women of integrity, the mission-appropriate response to the girls has been to say yes to their request and to work with them to develop safe, age-appropriate options for girls who would like to engage in some form of activism. Moreover, from an educational and psychological perspective, we know that a sense of purpose can be the perfect antidote to the anxiety and stress that arise when natural and human-made disasters occur.

The second thought I want to share is about Hamlin’s Creed — our bold statement of ethical values — and the decisions that we make every day. While the teachers and I are fully supportive of civic action on March 14th, we are more deeply committed to civility and kindness every day. How will the girls rise to the occasion and become better versions of themselves today on March 12, on March 13, on March 15 and the days hence? Will we allow our girls to walk out for 17 minutes on March 14 to honor the lives of strangers whom they have never met and say nothing about how they treat their own Hamlin sisters whom they see every day? Will we allow the girls to write letters to politicians about the danger of guns without also asking them to place a ban on unkindness and exclusive behavior? Hurtful words and actions, cliques and nonverbal exclusion, and deliberate misuse of social media platforms are weapons used daily in schools across our country, and building healthy school cultures must also be a part of our school safety plans. While the majority of the behavior that I see at Hamlin is “Creedful” and praiseworthy, I also know that there is always room for growth. Therefore, I am asking all parents to join us in reminding their daughter(s) that Compassion, Courage, Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility are not mere suggestions at Hamlin. These values are necessary guidelines as we work together to create a psychologically safe community where all members feel seen, known, and loved.

In what may be a pivotal moment for our country, I want to inspire all of us to live more consciously. Let’s walk the talk. If there is any good that will come out of the Parkland tragedy, may it be that all schools become more closely-knit, inclusive communities. As my father often said, “Charity begins at home and then spreads abroad.” Please see the next page for a description of the K-8 plan for Wednesday, March 14. May we all be well.

Grade 1 Students Support “Project Night Night”

Grade 1 students and their families have been leading the Lower School in collecting blankets, cuddly animals, books, and other supplies for the nonprofit, Project Night Night.

Project Night Night donates  over 25,000 Night Night Packages each year to homeless children 12 and under who need our childhood essentials to have a concrete and predictable source of security and an increased exposure to high-quality literacy materials during their time of upheaval. Each Night Night Package contains a new security blanket, an age- appropriate children’s book, and a stuffed animal — all nestled inside of a new canvas tote bag. By providing objects of reliable comfort, Project Night Night reduces trauma and advances the emotional and cognitive well-being of the children we serve.

Hamlin parent, Amy Morgan shares:

We have a class of thoughtful, caring girls that feel passionate about helping others. We thought this was a great way to come together as a first grade class to build community and help the community! 

Donated items were sorted last Friday and will be put in bags for delivery on March 15.

Special thanks to Hamlin parents Dalynn May and Amy Morgan for leading this altruistic work!

To learn more about Project Night Night, please visit:


Students Win 1st Place at International Ocean Film Festival

On March 11, four dynamic Grade 7 filmmakers won first place in the middle school student section of the 15th Annual International Ocean Film Festival held in San Francisco, California. Allie, Avery, Dani, and Helena, were recognized for their film, Strawbucks.

Strawbucks is a short film that interweaves detailed information connecting the use of plastic straws (in businesses like Starbucks), to the growing Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The film utilizes interviews with Hamlin students to create a powerful narrative, urging viewers to replace their plastic straws with ones that are more environmentally friendly (metal, glass).

You can watch the film below:

Hamlin Attends International Ocean Film Festival

On March 8, Hamlin students walked a mile down the hill to the Cowell Theater (Fort Mason) to watch films from the 15th Annual International Ocean Film Festival. The films provided inspiration and crucial information, a perfect fit for this year’s eco-theme focused on Ocean-Awareness.

The International Ocean Film Festival is:

Dedicated to using film as a medium to increase public awareness of the environmental, social, and cultural importance of marine ecosystems and foster a spirit of ocean stewardship, IOFF is now the premier venue in North America for ocean-related films.

Every year, IOFF produces an acclaimed festival of ocean-themed films from all over the world that are largely unavailable to the general public. Themes range from marine science and industry to sports and adventure. We look for films that entertain, educate, and encourage active participation in ocean conservation.

Students watched several films from all over the world. Highlights included learning:

-How the bodies of pelicans dive into the water at 45mph

-About the declining population of sharks in the region of Borneo

-About coral restoration projects, and how coral is vital to the ocean’s ecosystem

-About Mexican fishing bats and their nightly excursions to feed on fish

Continue reading

Hamlin Celebrates International Women’s Day

In honor of International Women’s Day, Grade 6 students raised money through a bake sale for the nonprofit OneProsper, an organization that supports the education of girls in rural India.

Money raised from the bake sale will go toward funding girls’ education in the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, India. Girls in that region must walk several hours a day to get water for their families.  Bake sale funds will provide the resources necessary for these girls to attend school  instead of walking for water. OneProsper will use the money to buy water filter systems for these girls’ families as well as giving each girl school tuition, supplies, and a bike for transportation.

Today was the first in a series of bake sales to support OneProsper’s efforts. Recently, Salesforce visited with students and introduced them to their Trailhead technology to create an app to improve bake sale results. This partnership emerged after Hamlin students visited Salesforce as part of our #STEMGenderGap day in December. The app allows costumers to buy goods even if they don’t have any money. The technology also enables Grade 6 girls to pre-order goodies, track inventory, and get the names of customers in order to follow up for future payment. Grade 6 students used the app on their iPads to collect data. Finally results for the early morning sale showed that dessert bars and cakes outperformed cookies. The data also showed $248 worth of sales in less than 30 minutes.

This screen section recorded Bake Sale Items Sold ($) by Type and Size:

Hamlin girls have four more bake sales to go, but their app will certainly help them continue to have sales success.

To learn more about OneProsper, please visit:

Ella speaks about the project in this video:


Salesforce Helps Grade 6 Design Bake Sale App

Grade 6 Social Studies students are studying the Eastern Hemisphere and the issue of water scarcity in countries like South Sudan and India. As part of their learning experience they are focusing on the struggle of women in the northern Thar Desert where resources are scarce, forcing girls to forgo school in order to walk long distances to get water for their families. Last year we partnered with the nonprofit OneProsper in order to help keep girls in school.

OneProsper International is working to empower girls in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan, India to break the cycle of poverty. Our holistic solution brings clean water, education and better nutrition to underprivileged girls living in the Thar Desert. 

In September 2017, OneProsper International began construction of rainwater harvesting tanks for 30 families in the Thar Desert which will impact 60 girls. The tanks will be completed in January 2018 and the girls will start attending school February 2018.

This year Grade 6 students are planning a series of bake sales to support OneProsper’s efforts to supply needed water filter technology, farming techniques, school tuition and supplies for each girl. Today Salesforce visited with students and introduced them to their Trailhead technology to create an app to improve bake sale results. Continue reading