Get to know Hamlin’s Middle School Teaching Fellow, Mx. Westley!
On May 1 the Class of 2020 met with 16 remarkable Hamlin alumnae to talk about the values that shape a life path and what it means to be a Hamlin girl out in the world beyond our walls.
Before meeting, the alums and students filled out their own bios answering questions about personal values and interests. They were put into groups based on these shared values. In her opening remarks, Ms. Holland Greene reminded students that a career and a job are different and are both important pieces of living a value-driven life.
The discussions were focused around the personal values the students and the alumnae hold and how these shape choices and paths that don’t always look clear and straight. As I popped into breakout rooms (2 alums and 6-7 students in each room), I uniformly heard deep reflections on the joys, obstacles and choices that come in life, and the way the skills learned at Hamlin – resilience, work ethic, flexibility, honesty, respect for equity and inclusion – are essential in our changing world.
The wisdom in those Zoom rooms was truly impressive. We are so very proud of this Class of 2020 already – they are truly special – seeing them in a space full of the remarkable women who came before them, we can see how they will shape the world in ways that are both beautiful and appropriate to who they truly are. In this time of pandemic, it was a wonderful reminder that a Hamlin education can help transcend all obstacles- Hamlin students are truly meeting the challenges of their time in so many forms.
It was so incredible hearing the many skills and lessons these women have learned from Hamlin that still continue to resonate with them and have allowed them to be who they are today. –Lexie G.
The following alums shared their time and wisdom with our students:
In late December Hamlin alum Madi Lusk visited with students in Ms. Kane’s Spanish Honors class. Ms. Lusk graduated from Skidmore College in 2019, and is currently immersed in a prestigious Princeton University fellowship working with aspiring entrepreneurs in Guatemala.
Girls posed questions in Spanish to Ms. Lusk about her Hamlin experience, her University High School experience, her college experience, and her decision to work in Guatemala with young people interested in careers in STEM. Ms. Lusk spoke about a program she started to teach high school girls about programming and engineering. She responded to all the student questions in fluent Spanish with a beautiful accent, but also shared that it is challenging to speak Spanish all day long in Guatemala. Ms. Lusk mentioned that she was thankful for her Hamlin education, which gave her the confidence to work in a primarily male-dominated space.
Ms. Kane adds.
“Hamlin Spanish students loved hearing about Madi’s journey and how she is able to take the lessons and the language skills she learned at Hamlin and apply them in an international setting.”
We are very excited to welcome back Hamlin graduates Erin Minuth ’07 and Claudia Tropp ’09. Both women will be working as Associate Teachers in Grade 2.
After attending Hamlin, Ms. Minuth graduated from Convent, then Whitman College, where she played tennis and was a Geology major. She then studied at the Teton Science School in Wyoming and is currently enrolled in the BATTI program (Bay Area Teacher Training Institute). Some of her favorite Hamlin memories are: performing in Mulan, speaking at the Grade 4 VIP assembly, and exploring Yosemite in the snow. This year she is very excited to work with our students on reading and literacy.
After attending Hamlin, Ms. Tropp also graduated from Convent, then Santa Clara University, later earning a Master’s degree from The University of Southern California (USC) in Elementary Education. She was inspired to be a teacher by her time at Hamlin, and was especially influenced by Ms. Chisholm and Ms. Micha. Some of her favorite Hamlin memories are: field days, graduating on the lair (she was the first class to experience this), and countless others. This year she is looking forward to bringing her many talents to Grade 2.
On May 6, Hamlin welcomed back ten members of the class of 2015 who will soon be graduating from high school (two just did). These bright and articulate young women reflected on their Hamlin education in front of an audience of faculty members, staff and trustees. Wanda M. Holland Greene and Teebie Saunders led a vibrant and insightful discussion, asking the students about their time at Hamlin, exploring topics like: gender, core values, academic preparation, and their passions. Below are a few of the central themes that emerged.
-All the panelists spoke about how Hamlin prepared them to speak up and advocate for themselves in classes and at their high schools. Many cited the “confidence” that Hamlin instilled in them.
-Most of the panelists were involved in various forms of leadership at their high schools, including: being a peer advisor, participating in student government, being captains on sports teams, and leading clubs focused on art, inclusion, feminism, and politics.
-Panelists spoke about how they felt very prepared for high school. They cited the skills of time management and organization that they developed while at Hamlin. Many of the former students also mentioned the excellent education they received in math, science and technology.
Ali Meneghetti graduated from Hamlin in 2011, but has continued to be involved in several Hamlin theater productions throughout her high school and college years. Now a senior at Smith College, we had the opportunity to catch up with Ms. Meneghetti as she was working on props for the upcoming production of Arabian Nights.
What did you love about your time at Hamlin?
I loved theater, field day, the Halloween assembly, playing basketball, soccer, and running cross country. I also loved my friendships; I still have three Hamlin friends who I talk to and text with very consistently.
Tell us about your theater experience?
I loved acting in the plays, being various characters, telling stories on stage. I remember being in “A Christmas Carol” in 1st grade, I had one line, but I was very excited. I went on to perform in so many wonderful roles every year that I was at Hamlin. In 8th grade I hurt my ankle and couldn’t play sports. I started volunteering with Ms. Abbott, helping 3rd and 4th graders block scenes, do character voices and character walks. I enjoyed being on stage performing, but found that I really loved helping out with the off stage work. I loved watching younger students discover their voice; they found out more about themselves as they rehearsed their character.
How does your time at Hamlin connect to your life at Smith College now?
I’m the Chair of Student Programs at Smith. We put on weekly films, host speakers, live music concerts, and general events. My theater work at Hamlin in 8th grade made me a problem solver. I use that same ability now when managing the many moving parts of various events.
How did you become such a dedicated Hamlin theater volunteer?
I tried doing theater in high school, but the program didn’t have the same feel as Hamlin. Ms. Abbott was such an integral part of my life, I really believed in her program. In the space she creates, each student has the opportunity to shine and feels valued. Everyone in a production is important and has a distinct role. Ms. Abbott knows each kid and how they work. She brings a wonderful individual approach to a communal environment. I wanted to give back to a program that gave me so much. I will continue to come back and volunteer as long as Ms. Abbott is here. Working at the Hamlin theater is my happy place. I like being around the energy of the girls and watching them grow up.
On Tuesday, Hamlin alumna Samantha Weaver ’88 spoke with grade 5 students about filmmaking.
Our students are in the process of developing films focused on ocean-related topics ranging from gray whales to the importance of plankton. A long-term goal is for students to submit these films to the International Ocean Film Festival and the Noe Valley Girls Film Festival (started by Hamlin girls).
Samantha Weaver has been deeply involved with the film world since her mid-twenties; acting, producing, casting, writing, among other film-related endeavors.
Hamlin School students asked Ms. Weaver questions related to both the process and the challenges involved with making films.
Below are some of the key points that she made:
-Inspiration is definitely needed when making a film. You have to listen to what is important to you and why.
-On a longer film you will spend hundreds and hundreds of hours making it, so staying inspired is crucial.
-How much time do you have to tell your story? Are you making a short film? What do you need? An iPhone? Software? Do you have to hire people to help you?
-You have to love what you do, it can take 3-4 years for a film to go from script to the theater. There is the writing, the shooting, then post-production with editing and sound.
-In the earlier stages of brainstorming don’t hold back any ideas, just let your creative thinking flow.
-I was inspired to make documentary films because they provided me with an opportunity to learn about a person’s life or an event that happened. I love to continually learn.
-My favorite documentary that I helped produce was, “Straight Outta Hunter’s Point.” A whole section of San Francisco is build on toxic waste that the Navy dumped there. The cancer rate in Hunter’s Point is extremely high because of where it is situated.
-I’m in the early brainstorming stages for my next project. I hope to co-create something with my husband. I will be sure to let you know about it!
On May 7, Hamlin welcomed back ten members of the class of 2014 who will soon be graduating from high school. These bright and articulate young women reflected on their Hamlin education in front of an audience of faculty members, staff and trustees. Wanda M. Holland Greene and Teebie Saunders led a vibrant and insightful discussion, asking the students about their time at Hamlin, exploring topics like: gender, core values, academic preparation, and their passions. Below are some of their thoughts.
-Hamlin provided so many powerful female role models; I came to high school knowing what I could do as a woman.
-I’m very grateful for my Hamlin education. In high school I took a physics class with mostly males and always had the confidence to speak up because of what I learned at Hamlin.
-Hamlin provided the opportunity for me to feel comfortable trying new things like music and dance.
-Hamlin taught me to do what I thought was right, follow what I believe, and know what I want to fight for.
-Hamlin had natural born leaders. I learned what it means to be a leader while allowing space for the voices of other people.
-I learned how to listen at Hamlin, especially to someone I didn’t agree with. Hamlin emphasized mutual respect, we all learned from each other.
On November 7, Grade 1 students walked to Calvary Presbyterian Church on Fillmore Street to meet seniors in our nearby San Francisco community. The girls were given a tour of the church and chapel by Alison Faison (Director of Children and Family Ministries), before performing in front of seventy people who were gathered for Calvary’s Tuesday lunch program for adults over the age of 60.
Hamlin students sung “Inch by Inch” and “America the Beautiful,” led by music teacher, Kate Roseman. After singing, the girls distributed handmade cards, connecting with women and men in the audience.
One senior commented:
It was so refreshing to have you here. There is hope for the future. Please come back.
-Special thanks to Marion Stanton, (mother of former Hamlin students, Elizabeth ’98 and Anne ’00), for helping to facilitate this meaningful visit.
This article appears in Thrive Global: https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/13160-a-bright-light-on-a-dark-day-a-plane-baby-s-9-11-story