Author Archives: polk@hamlin.org

Hamlin Teachers Present Inquiry Projects

For the third year, Hamlin teachers delved into reflective learning through inquiry projects that they personally designed. Teachers used data, research, and reflection, to investigate, modify, and improve their teaching practice. Several teachers participated in the Inquiry Project Year, sharing their findings with colleagues at a year-end celebration on June 13. This reflective work serves to make Hamlin a learning institution that continues to grow and strive for excellence in a variety of areas. Below are some of the project descriptions.

Michelle Lovejoy

For the 2018/2019 school year, I created a student satisfaction survey that was given to 3rd – 8th grade students after their yearly Outdoor Education trips. The survey was created using Google Forms and given to students the week after returning from their Outdoor Ed trip. The survey combined short answer questions and five-point Likert scale questions where respondents could express how much they agreed or disagreed with the particular statement. This data will be used to examine how students feel the Hamlin Outdoor Education program is doing in relation to:

-the Hamlin Creed

-the mission & purpose of Outdoor Education

-student’s lives at home and at school

Lindsay Bothwell & Meagan Andrews

Structured Word Inquiry (SWI) is an instructional approach using the principles of scientific inquiry as a basis of word-level literacy instruction. This word study approach is based off of the idea that the primary function of spelling is to represent meaning instead of phonology. This year, our fourth graders got to experience this type of word study approach.

Maggie Jo Feldman

Drawing as a foundation skill is one way to build a student’s confidence and help them manifest their ideas more fully.  I wanted to apply different methods of presenting drawing techniques and creating stronger lesson plans. My focus was on three different areas: observation drawing (5th & 6th grade curriculum), field drawing (for Outdoor Ed projects) and portraiture (Elective class).

Continue reading

Farewell Interview with Nisa Frank

Ms. Frank, we will miss you, what will you miss most about Hamlin?

Hamlin has felt like home to me, and like anytime you move away from home you miss all the things that made it feel that way. The warmth of the community, the joy of the girls, and the support of my colleagues are all things that I will miss, dearly. 

How has your time at Hamlin changed you or helped you grow as a person?

It is now impossible for me to see the world without the mark that women have made in it. I will always look for the stories that don’t exist and seek that perspective to support the critical thinking necessary to change the world. Hamlin has fueled this quest for knowledge. 

What are you looking forward to in your new leadership role?

I am looking forward to having a broader impact on learning, especially having the opportunity to work with both lower and middle school students. I look forward to working with a community, that like Hamlin values social justice and equity as necessary pillars of change. 

What parting advice would you like to give to our Hamlin girls?

Stay fully present in the moment. You have an opportunity to do all that you want to, right now! Don’t think you need to “grow up” to do things that require the courage to lead.

Ms. Frank will be the Head of School at Prospect Sierra next year.

Grade 7 Rises to the Challenge

Rise To the Challenge (RTC) is the intensive for our Grade 7 students Intensives are a concentrated period of study where an entire grade is working on a project or projects, with profound research and preparation, followed by a public event. These intensives are designed with Hamlin’s mission in mind, as our students meet the challenges of their time.

RTC really started in autumn when students began going on various field trips where they volunteered and learned about how nonprofits serve a community. In addition to those engaging experiences, throughout the year students listened to many guest speakers who shared their altruistic wisdom and inspiration.

This preliminary work culminated with Grade 7 students choosing their own RTC topics, doing in-depth research, then sharing their findings, providing short and long-term solutions to various problems.

This year’s topics were: Improving Maternal Health, Minimizing Risk of Genetic Diseases in Newborns, Improving Public Access to Quality Food, Creating Environmentally Friendly Packaging and Shipping, Challenges Involved with Autonomous Cars, Opiate Addiction, Technology and Well-being, LBGTQ+ Rights, Oceans and Plastics, Environmental Conservation, Sexual Assault on College Campuses, Reducing Gun Violence, Reproductive Rights for Women, Dangers Facing Various Ecosystems

Many teams used technology to generate awareness, including: videos, websites, and Change.org petitions. Some groups did fundraising through bake sales; others conducted raffles to raise funds. Proceeds went to various organizations, including the Marine Mammal Center, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the World Wildlife Fund.

Hamlin Presents Willy Wonka With A Twist

Last week our Grade 8 students performed in the musical, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This theatrical production was the culmination of weeks of work and rehearsal.

Roald Dahl’s timeless story of the world-famous candy man and his quest to find an heir comes to life in this stage adaptation of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, which features the songs from the classic family film Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.

But for Hamlin, the story of our musical doesn’t end there. The following is a statement made by The Justice League, a group of students who discovered that Roald Dahl was racist, anti-semitic, and sexist.

“It all started on a cold, winter afternoon with the announcement that the Class of 2019’s Grade 8 musical would be Willy Wonka Jr. We all excitedly jumped up and down, thrilled that this musical that we loved would be our final class project.

Everyone had different roles in mind, and we were eager to get started working on it. For those of us working behind the scenes on the production team, work begins by doing dramaturgy. Dramaturgy is when you research the history of the production and facts that you may not know when you first hear the name of it. The Wonka production team began its research soon after the musical was announced.

A Google search changed things quickly. Not too far into the dramaturgical research, students discovered deeply upsetting information about Roald Dahl’s beliefs and the roots of his stories, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Continue reading

Grade 6 Leads Symposium

Symposium is the intensive for our Grade 6 students Intensives are a concentrated period of study where an entire grade is working on a project or projects, with profound research and preparation, followed by a public event. These intensives are designed with Hamlin’s mission in mind, as our students meet the challenges of their time.

In Ancient Greece, a Symposium was a regular meeting where men discussed problems. Today, our symposium is a formal meeting where multiple specialists deliver short addresses on several topics.

The Grade 6 Symposium took place at the Century Club on Friday, where our students shared information creatively expressed through songs, TED Talks, rap, spoken word, and PSA’s.

Topics for this year included:

Chinese Cultural Revolution, The Effect of Access to Water, Underrepresentation of Women in Hollywood, The Role of Girls’ Education, Danger of the Single Story and Diversity in Africa, World Religions, Partition of India, Chinese Inventions, Apartheid in South Africa, Modern Slavery, Government Systems of Ancient China, and Gender Privilege

Each audience member received a program that provided detailed (student-written) information about each topic.

Ms. Liu shares:

Symposium was 6 weeks of preparation. The girls were able to have fun with all the material that they researched. They are proud of what they accomplished. Symposium is an example of rigor and joyful learning together.

CEO Amy Errett Speaks at Hamlin

Wednesday afternoon Amy Errett spoke with students in Grade 7 about her life in business, and about the importance of giving back to others.

Amy’s multifaceted career has ranged from founding and operating companies, to investing in startups, to volunteer nonprofit leadership. Currently, Amy is founder and CEO of Madison Reed, an omnichannel beauty brand that is challenging industry titans in the hair color space. She is also a Venture Partner at True Ventures, focusing on investments in consumer and e-commerce startups.

In 2015 and 2018, Amy was named one of the “Bay Area’s Most Influential Women in Business” by the San Francisco Business Times. She was also a finalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2018 Award in the Northern California region, which she won in 2006 for the consumer category. 

Amy believes in the power of giving back and dedicates herself to supporting humanitarian organizations. Amy is a member of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast chapter of YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization), and serves on the boards of the University of Connecticut Foundation, Common Sense Media, Glide, and Madison Reed.

Ms. Errett shared the following (among other points):

-That it is important to do things that are going to help the world

-That people with privilege have a responsibility to give back

-That she wanted to create a company that didn’t use harsh chemicals, used eco-friendly packaging, and didn’t retouch images of women

Continue reading

Self-Portraits in Grade 4

Students in Grade 4 recently created expressive and colorful self-portraits.  Our girls began by looking at Los Angeles native and New York based visual artist, Kehinde Wiley, for inspiration.

Wiley has firmly situated himself within art history’s portrait painting tradition. As a contemporary descendent of a long line of portraitists, including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, Ingres, (among others), Wiley engages the signs and visual rhetoric of the heroic, powerful, majestic and the sublime in his representation of urban, black and brown men found throughout the world.

Wiley’s larger than life figures disturb and interrupt tropes of portrait painting, often blurring the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation and the critical portrayal of masculinity and physicality.

The models, dressed in their everyday clothing, are asked to assume poses found in paintings or sculptures representative of the history of their surroundings, creating a juxtaposition of the “old” inherited by the “new.”

Student self-portraits are currently on display in McKinne lounge.

To learn more about Kehinde Wiley, please visit: https://kehindewiley.com/

Grade 8 Visits Preschoolers in the Mission District

On May 30, Hamlin Grade 8 students visited Holy Family Day Home in the Mission, a nonprofit organization that we have worked with for the past 15 years. The visit was led by our middle school Spanish department.

Holy Family Day Home’s goal is to provide affordable, high quality, early childhood education and family support services in a stable and nurturing environment, thereby providing the children of working families skills and hope for lifelong development.  

Hamlin students began the morning by singing the song Cada Semilla to the preschoolers and playing Simon Dice, all in Spanish. Our students were then paired up with different children to read books. Our girls brought their very own self-created books written in Spanish with beautiful handmade illustrations. After sharing these fantastic stories, everyone went outside to play. The joy and energy between the younger and older students was palpable.

After playtime, Hamlin students heard more about program specifics from members of Holy Family Day Home’s leadership team. They learned about the food pantry that provides nourishment for families in need, and the emphasis placed on seamlessly integrating homeless and non-homeless students into classrooms. This experience provided a wonderful opportunity for our girls to serve the greater San Francisco community. Our students were invited to continue volunteering at the Holy Family Day Home during their high school years.

To learn more about Holy Family Day Home, please visit: https://holyfamilydayhome.org/

Quill Art in Grade 2

Quilling or paper filigree is an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. Quilling starts with rolling a strip of paper (using a thick needle) into a coil and then pinching the coil into shapes that can be glued together.

Our students worked for 4 to 5 days to create these beautiful and color-rich pieces. This type of artwork is perfect for girls in Grade 2 because it focuses on hand-eye coordination.

“It is an art craft that the girls could do all year long, they loved it!” -Art Teacher, Mr. Witrak

Hamlin Performs “Life is Like a Double Cheeseburger”

Students (Grades 4 and 5) in Hamlin’s After School Academy (ASA) recently performed the humor-filled play, Life is Like a Double Cheeseburger.

Life is like a double cheeseburger,” a father explains to his son at the start of this compilation of 6 individual scenes. All loosely centered around this delicious metaphor meant to represent the many layers of human existence, this play is both comedic and contemplative.  Played before an assortment of restaurant backdrops, we meet families, couples, friends, and waitstaff facing major life changes, following — or failing to follow — their dreams, and gulping down helpings of humor and humility along with their life lessons. And for every “order up,” there’s more proof that life, it turns out, really is like a double cheeseburger: full of endless possibilities, often messy and complicated, but always worth savoring.  

Our students had a wonderful experience putting on the play, with thoughtful guidance by our in-house theater guru, Heidi Abbott.

To learn more about our excellent after school program, please visit: https://www.hamlin.org/program/extended-day