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Interview with Dr. Kelsey Twist Schroeder: Our New Middle School Division Head

We are very excited to have Dr. Kelsey Twist Schroeder with us this year. Dr. Schroeder comes to The Hamlin School from Roland Park Country School in Baltimore, where she was the Dean of Students for the Upper School. Dr. Schroeder attended Stanford University, where she was a scholar-athlete, excelling as an All-American lacrosse player. She went on to earn her Masters in Education from Stanford, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Schroeder is the mother of three girls; her two oldest are now attending Hamlin.

1. What are you most excited about for this school year?

In my first year at Hamlin, I am most excited about becoming part of this extraordinary community. When I visited Hamlin last year for my interviews, I could immediately sense what a strong, supportive community it was. Every person—from the students to the employees to the families—believes in the mission of the school and living the Creed, and you can feel that energy in the air.

That is the kind of environment where I want to be a school leader, and it is the kind of school culture I want for my own daughters. My spouse, Jamie, and I are simply over the moon that our daughters, Hazel and Lillian started in the Lower School this fall, and hopefully our youngest, Marion, will be here in a few years!     

2. You recently completed your Doctorate in Education. Tell us about the focus of your work.

The Mid-Career Doctoral Program at Penn brings together a diverse cohort of educational leaders from urban, rural, suburban, private, and public contexts. We had different backgrounds, educational philosophies, and professional roles, and we came together to use that range of wisdom to tackle complex educational challenges.

The focus of my dissertation was on how adolescent students at a selective independent girls’ school conceptualize and experience leadership. The premise of the study is that leadership is dynamic and that girls coming of age today may not approach leadership in the same way girls did ten or even five years ago. Because I am committed to developing leadership capacities in girls, I wanted to begin that work by first understanding what attitudes, experiences, and hopes shape the way the girls currently approach leadership.   

3. You are the mother of 3 girls; what is the best piece of parenting advice you have received?

Being a mother of three girls has been the greatest joy of my life, and as any parent knows, raising children is also challenging at times. My first daughter, Hazel, was born 13 weeks prematurely. We are blessed that Hazel had a remarkable recovery, but she had a difficult start to life. During her long stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) she had one particularly hard day and was having difficulty breathing; as a new mother, I was feeling overwhelmed. A nurse that I had become friendly with came up to me, put her arm around me, and compassionately said, “I know you wish you could, Kelsey, but you can’t learn to breathe for her.” I will never forget that moment and the caring way she spoke those words to me.

Watching your child struggle to learn is one of the most challenging experiences as a parent. It’s our instinct to want to step in and help. I have returned to that wise advice several times over the years. Whether it’s learning to tie a shoe or make new friends, I have to remind myself that I can guide and support and love my kids, and I also need to let them learn independently.

4. You were a highly accomplished athlete. How does that experience inform your work as an educator?

Growing up, I was blessed to attend a girls’ school that never asked me to pick between being a scholar, athlete, or artist. I loved being able to sing in my a cappella group and then dash off to my basketball game. While I learned so much in academic classrooms, I think I learned just as much being a three-sport varsity athlete (lacrosse, field hockey, basketball). Athletics is where I learned how to get along with others, including people who were very different from me. Being part of a team taught me how to put the group’s goals above my own individual goals. Being an athlete taught me the satisfaction of hard work. My dad shuttled me from game to game and would always tell me how proud he was that I “played my heart out” whether we won or lost. While I like to win as much as anyone, my family never prized winning over trying my best and being a good sport. I try to imbue those lessons into my work with students every day.      

5. What would your favorite K-8 teacher say about you as a student?

I had many amazing teachers during my K-8 education, so it’s impossible to pick a favorite, but one teacher who had a tremendous impact on me was my 5th grade teacher, Mary Beth Dyer. She had (and still has) one of the most wonderful laughs in the world. It’s big and joyful and carefree, and when you hear her laugh, you can’t help but smile. In addition to a contagious positive spirit, Ms. Dyer taught me to not be afraid of failing and live life as a learning adventure where you get a chance to grow every single day.

Artists Explore Keith Haring’s World

Recently, lower school art students worked diligently and with gusto to fill McKinne Lounge with images inspired by Keith Haring.

Grade 2 artists created the mural shown in the photo above. Students learned about Keith Haring’s large-scale paintings on walls, floors, ceilings, and even on expansive buildings. Each Grade 2 artist created a symbol to draw on the wall, then filled the spaces in between to create a continuous drawing, just like Keith Haring did. Students in different lower school grades added their artwork to cover all the other McKinne walls with vibrant Haring-like imagery.

Keith Haring was born on May 4, 1958 in Reading, Pennsylvania. He discovered a love for drawing at an early age, learning basic cartooning skills from his father who drew comics as a hobby. Like many children of his generation, Haring was an admirer of the popular animation of Walt Disney, Dr. Seuss, and Looney Tunes.

Grade 4 artists share about the project:

I really liked the project; it was a fun way to start off the year.

I like Keith Haring; he is the first artist I have really been able to identify with. 

I love his colorful cartoon and graffiti style, it is contemporary and fun to imitate.

To learn more about Keith Haring, please visit: http://www.haring.com/

 

Middle School Field Trip Day

On Thursday, girls in grades 5-8 ventured out to various parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. The day provided an opportunity for our students to bond with each other in eclectic off campus locales. Girls were able to challenge themselves physically, and volunteer, while connecting with each other through shared experiences.

Students went to the following places:

Grade 5: Circus Center

Circus Center offers classes for every level of ability in flying trapeze, acrobatics, aerial arts, contortion, juggling and many other disciplines. 

Grade 6: Pier 39 
Opened in 1978, Pier 39 is favorite location to visit in San Francisco, boasting excellent views of Alcatraz, Golden Gate and Bay Bridges.

Grade 7: Farm2Market at Alameda Point Collaborative

Farm2Market is a small, diversified working farm that produces thousands of pounds of sustainably grown produce each year. They are a social enterprise of Alameda Point Collaborative (a supportive housing community), using a passion for food and the environment to support APC residents as they move toward economic self-sufficiency and greater health and wellness.

Grade 8: Fort Miley Ropes Course

The Fort Miley Ropes Course offers a fun, safety conscious and positive environment for individuals and groups to work together to develop confidence, trust, cooperation and leadership skills through actions. 

Glide Minister Speaks at Hamlin

Wednesday afternoon, we welcomed Reverend Harry Louis Williams II. Reverend Williams has worked at Glide Memorial Church for the past 13 years. He spoke with Grade 7 students about his outreach ministry with people experiencing poverty on the streets of East Oakland and the Tenderloin in San Francisco.

Reverend Harry Louis Williams II, is a minister and social activist hailing from Oakland, CA. He is the author or co-author of eight books, ranging in genre from Black History to Urban Fiction. In 2015, the Oakland City Council awarded Williams a proclamation for his work in healing street-level violence in the Oakland, CA inner city, as well as his efforts to bring awareness to the epidemic of commercial sexual exploitation of children and comfort to its victims.

Reverend Williams spoke to students about the difficulties faced by children born into poverty. He asked audience members to visualize a recent excursion he took to East Oakland’s “Village Homeless Encampment.” He described a 4-year boy named Michael who lived in the encampment without parents, electricity, daily hygiene, and a regular source of food. He asked our Hamlin students how Michael would be treated when he started elementary school. Students responded with empathetic sentiments, expressing how alone and alienated Michael would likely feel.

Reverend Williams told our students, “you are fantastic, the future is yours, you are someone’s answer.” He closed by encouraging our girls to give back and volunteer to help others who are not as fortunate as they are.

 

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:

Continue reading

Lava Mae Visits Hamlin

For the past two years, The Hamlin School has had a close partnership with the nonprofit Lava Mae.

Lava Mae brings critical services to the streets – delivered with an unexpected level of care we call Radical Hospitality™ – to rekindle dignity and hope for people experiencing homelessness through our Mobile Hygiene Service, Pop-Up Care Villages and buildIt toolkit.

Hamlin students have volunteered at Pop-Up Care Villages helping to distribute clothing and food to our unhoused San Francisco neighbors.

Jamie Ramirez and Kao Choua Vue from Lava Mae, visited with Grade 7 students yesterday. They shared videos, led students through simulations, and shared the following points (among others):

We deeply appreciate the warmth of Hamlin students who have volunteered with Lava Mae.

Lava Mae practices “Radical Hospitality,” a high level of care for our unhoused neighbors.

People on the streets rise to the level of care that they are given.

How you are treating people matters. Even just making eye contact and saying hello to someone makes a difference.

What if we all practiced “Radical Hospitality” to each other every day, what would our world be like?

To learn more about Lava Mae, please visit: https://lavamae.org/

 

 

Hamlin Student Ventures: Entrepreneurship in Action

Through our new Student Ventures Program, middle school girls will be able to sell their own creative products at this year’s Winterfest in December. Winterfest is Hamlin’s much-anticipated, magically festive annual event to celebrate community. Led by Grade 7 student Maddy (with parent and administrative support), the Hamlin Student Ventures Program will provide guidance for budding girl entrepreneurs this autumn.

What is the purpose of this program?

-To create and develop a product
-To market and sell this product at Winterfest
-To learn about entrepreneurship
-To give back to Hamlin
-To earn a profit

How does the Student Ventures Program work?

-Interested students will fill out an application
-Students may apply as individuals or in groups (groups are encouraged)
-All participants must have a sponsoring adult (parent or guardian)
-Participants will complete a business plan
-Students will have the opportunity to meet with Hamlin parent entrepreneurs to receive feedback and support
-All participants will have selling space at the Winterfest marketplace

Maddy shares:

I’m most excited about what students are going to learn from the parent entrepreneur mentors, it will be a great experience.

Hamlin Students Host 3rd Annual Girls Film Festival

On Saturday, Hamlin grade 7 students (Maggie and Caitlin), along with their older Hamlin alumnae sisters (Charlotte and Ella), hosted the 3rd annual Noe Valley Girls Film Festival. The festival was held at Noe Valley Ministry and brought together 250 people to enjoy films by girls from all over the world, notably from: Iran, China, Germany, France, and Spain.

The Noe Valley Girls Film Festival’s (“NVGFF”) mission is to encourage young girls to make movies with goals of creating a new generation of movie makers, promoting Noe Valley, and having fun.

In early 2016, a group of girls living in Noe Valley decided to form NVGFF.  They loved making movies and wanted to give an opportunity to other young girls to make and present their movies to a real live audience.  The girls started creating films in elementary school (at Hamlin) and have collectively made almost fifty movies.  They enjoyed film making so much that they decided to start a festival for all of the girls of Noe Valley.  They have been meeting every week and believe the film festival will be a great way to bring the people of Noe Valley together to watch films, and try to help girls feel empowered to be involved in film making.

For more information about the festival, please visit: http://www.nvgff.com/

 

A Hamlin Tradition: Students Create Artistic Sweatshirts

Going into our 155th year, The Hamlin School has a rich array of time honored traditions. For more than ten years, Grade 7 students have been getting together in the spring to design their very own personalized hoodie sweatshirt to be worn during their last year at Hamlin. The names of every Grade 8 girl appear on the back of the sweatshirt.

During the creation process, girls submit designs for the sweatshirt that are both original and found through online sources. The most popular ideas are then put to a class vote.

Eliza and Catherine share more about this year’s sweatshirt:

We chose the paper airplane and heart design because we liked the symbolism. As Grade 8 students we are “leading with love,” and will be “leaving Hamlin with love.”

We have been looking forward to wearing our sweatshirt since we were in 5th grade, it is a special privilege that we have earned.

The mother of a Hamlin graduate elaborates:

My daughter wore her Grade 8 sweatshirt throughout high school, it was a source of pride and ongoing connectedness for her.

 

 

Hamlin Student Trains with The Climate Reality Project

Avery, a Grade 8 student, just returned from a 3-day training with the Climate Reality Leadership Corps in Los Angeles. In the above photo, Avery is standing with youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman (who also participated in the event).

The mission of Climate Reality is to catalyze a global solution to the climate crisis by making urgent action a necessity across every level of society. The Earth is facing a climate crisis, driven by fossil fuels. At Climate Reality, we’re here to make urgent action a necessity. In politics. In business. In every aspect of our lives. Everywhere. Urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions and speed the global shift to renewables. Urgent action to make world leaders strengthen and honor their Paris Agreement commitments. Led by former US Vice President Al Gore and CEO and President Ken Berlin, we do it by empowering everyday people to become activists, equipped with the tools, training, and network to fight for solutions and drive change planet-wide. The result is nearly 14,500 Climate Reality Leaders mobilizing communities in over 100 countries. Branches in 10 critical nations and regions around the Earth. Over 80 activists chapters (and growing) pushing for practical clean energy policies across the US. Together, they add up to a powerful movement growing by the day. One by the people. Of the people. For the planet.

Avery shared the following about the training conference:

“It was very interesting because Al Gore showed us how to give a presentation on climate change. He encouraged us to use the slides that stuck out for us. I’m planning on giving a presentation with my mom to a group of friends and family, then probably in front of other people as well. I’m so glad I went, it made me feel like I know so much more about climate change.”

To learn more about The Climate Reality Project, please visit: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/