It’s been a little while since my last post and I have to say, I’ve missed it! I’ve been busy with the life of the Lower School as well as engaging in dialogue with prospective parents in the height of admission season. An annual January highlight is the opportunity to talk with smaller groups of prospective parents about what it means to be a Hamlin girl, our pedagogy, and to brag shamelessly about my colleagues and the current parent body. Each time Wanda and I chat with a new group of parents, our experience is shaped by the events of the day, week, or month. These admission events happened recently, during a time when activism was at a high, especially around the Bay Area. There were days where I would literally jump from a conversation with 4th graders about Rosa Parks, and others who chose to oppose inequality, to the cozy home of a current parent, where we’d lean into conversation about how we prepare our girls to advocate for themselves and others. So many of our chats centered around who we are as a confident, dynamic community and the actions that occur as a result. From MLK, Jr. to Food Equity to the Black Lives Matter movement, we had authentic discussions as a direct reflection of the conversations we are having in our Hamlin community.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is,
‘What are you doing for others?'”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In January, we spent time honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The girls read books such as, Martin’s BIG Words, we viewed a clip from Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech during an assembly, but most importantly, the girls talked about the courage and conviction of MLK Jr., as well as many others, both past and present, who have stood for something they believed in. As a point of connection, the girls spoke about issues that affect their every day lives and the lives of others. It was understood that an issue you stand for is something so important that you would risk someone disagreeing with you, possibly being the only one to take that stand and/or that you would be speaking for those who can’t speak for themselves.
“Walk the street with us into history. Get off the sidewalk!”
What do our girls stand for?
In first grade, a student shared her families’ history with activism and her current involvement. Her peers asked questions like, “What was your favorite protest you’ve ever been in? “ to which she replied, “The one where we were asking banks to share money.” While every family may not be active in the same way, it’s important that we continue to discuss the importance of advocacy as families, classrooms, divisions and schools.
On Fridays, I have the pleasure of meeting with the 3rd and 4th grade ALANA group. Inevitably, between laughs, the girls bring up meaty topics that they feel comfortable discussing in this forum. In a recent meeting, the question was posed, “What do you stand for?” Not all of the girls had an answer. Some seemed humbled by the question, as if they were not quite old enough or experienced enough to stand for anything. Others were clear about the issues that are important to them and expressed them freely. Such an important discussion needed to be shared as a way to invite others to think deeply about their beliefs. It didn’t take long for an idea to emerge; the ALANA girls threw their thoughts onto the wall, literally. As you enter Hamlin, you will see not only what they stand for but also what many students in our community feel committed to.
What do YOU stand for?
There are blank cards waiting for YOU near the wall in the Mckinne reception area! Feel free to fill one out and give to Wendy so that you too can join the conversation.
Life is not what you alone make it. Life is the input of everyone who touched your life and every experience that entered it. We are all part of one another.
Hamlin Stands for Food Security
The month ended with a rich discussion about food insecurity in San Francisco. This issue directly related to the connection between the Hamilton Family Center and Hamlin Harvest. Many families came out to hear from a panel of those working to rectifying this issue and to engage in dialogue. Dan Polk, Hamlin’s Director of Global Citizenship, shared his thoughts about the importance of the Hamlin being deeply rooted in the work of advocacy and empathy.
“The city of San Francisco has 2400 homeless students who struggle with hunger everyday. At Hamlin we teach the importance of global citizenship, a core facet of which is to acknowledge the humanity of all people both far and near. In such an affluent city, we need to do our best to understand that resource inequality is in our midst.”
There aren’t enough hours in the day to tackle all of the important conversations that could come up at any given moment. As educators, we do our best to create environments where the issues that enrich our knowledge of one another, whether celebratory or sobering, have a space to be explored. Everyday, we encourage our girls to STAND UP and be heard!
A Note About Math Mornings
Between November and February 9th, Gillis Kallem, our Math Specilaist, and I have participated in 5 math mornings from grade K-4. We have truly enjoyed watching you learn alongside your daughters! Witnessing you grapple with an investigation, collaborate with your peers, and celebrate each other’s success was inspiring. The observations you made and the questions you asked pushed us to think more deeply about our current curriculum and,therefore, we learned as well. We will be sharing the Prezis from each parent session- please look out for those in the NOW in the coming weeks.