Our Educational Philosophy

Our K-8 educational program, rooted in a deep commitment to wellness and belonging, aims to develop the intellect, moral fiber, confidence, resilience, and leadership skills in each student.

 

Passionate educators – architects of the student experience at Hamlin – conceive and design units of inquiry and study that inspire our students to be innovative thinkers, collaborators, and courageous leaders who demonstrate empathy, flexibility, cultural humility, and integrity. Hamlin students want to learn. They know how to learn. And they come to know how they learn best. At the end of each engaging day at school, during which they break a “cognitive sweat,” Hamlin students are proud of their individual and collective efforts and achievements. Struggles, failures, and flaws are viewed as signs of being fully human and are embraced as opportunities to deepen learning and develop self-awareness. Students value hard work in all learning arenas, as it is the pathway to their sense of self-efficacy. At the same time, they come to understand that stepping back from work to rest, play, and reflect is an equally valuable endeavor. Over the course of their years at Hamlin, students build a strong foundation for high school and beyond by engaging in an intellectually demanding and stimulating academic program that is balanced by a steadfast commitment to mental health and wellness.

 

Learning at Hamlin is purposeful, joyful, and expansive. We embrace the importance of content knowledge in our program, and we are ignited by the words of our founder Sarah Dix Hamlin, who asserted that “the mere knowledge of the facts would be insufficient” to prepare girls to meet the challenges of their time. Thus, our educational program emphasizes the acquisition of knowledge and its application in new and unfamiliar contexts. Hamlin students learn inside the classrooms of our large urban campus and outside in the greater Bay Area: in national parks; local museums; technology companies; performing arts centers; and various non-profits. Through service learning and community partnerships, our students are taught that learning at school has immediate relevance in real life and that their lives are inextricably linked to others in our city and in our world.

 

Although no educational program can reliably predict the future, our program is grounded in the belief that success in life will require critical thinking and problem solving, effective oral and written communication, collaboration, self-regulation, self-care, and an active imagination. Moreover, we believe that girls and gender minorities will need to navigate their lives and chosen work with a clear sense of their power and voice.

 

The K-8 educational program at Hamlin is a mission-driven, values-laden set of learning experiences intentionally designed by outstanding educators and leaders. It is the core of what we do.

 

 

 

As a culminating class project, Grade 8 students collaborate creatively on a scripted or devised performing arts production to perform for the Hamlin community in June before their graduation. This musical production offers students an opportunity to develop and share their skills in music, dance, acting, and visual design (with set, props, costumes, and lighting) while bonding together as a class. Students work on their performing arts project over the course of the spring semester. These annual Grade 8 musical productions are based on meaningful content aligned with Hamlin’s mission and Creed and have been a favorite school tradition.

 

Rise to the Challenge (RTC) is our Grade 7 capstone project that encourages students to think deeply about and explore solutions to the challenges of their time. As part of this project, they take service learning field trips throughout the year to volunteer and learn more about the issues facing our local community and our world, and work in small teams to identify, research, and propose solutions to a specific challenge that they are passionate about.

 

Grade 6 ends the school year with an interdisciplinary project focused on presentation skills, team building, and self-reflection, where students create a range of pieces to share their learnings and educate the community on social issues through research, presentations, and art. The project, typically called the Symposium, shifts its format and focus from year to year, but it will remain a multi-disciplinary research and performance project that builds on and extends the skills learned throughout the year, concluding with various performances on historical and current topics to deepen students’ understanding of the challenges in the world and encourage them to be agents of change, as they take action to improve their community.

 

The U.S. Magazine Research Exhibition is Grade 5’s project-based culminating venture, which demonstrates the depth and range of skills and knowledge students have acquired during the school year. Each student writes a unique article about some aspect of their group’s region of the United States, with a variety of focal points including the sciences, arts, history, economics, athletics, and more. By creating and publishing a magazine together, students integrate research, writing, collaborative teamwork, creative risk-taking, and academic skills. Finally, Grade 5 students proudly display their public speaking skills in the projects’ exhibition to the community.

 

 

 

 

The Jan Micha Influential Women in History Program is a way for Grade 4 students to learn about women who have made significant, positive, and often overlooked contributions that have changed the course of American herstory. Research, public speaking skills, and learning about different experiences through influential women’s stories are core principles of this project. Originally called the Famous American Women Program, it was renamed in 2015 to honor one of the program’s founders and beloved member of Hamlin’s faculty for over 30 years, Jan Micha.

 

 

View the Influential Women in History website our students put together!

In Social Studies, Grade 3 students spend the year focused on California: its people, its geography, and the events that have shaped it. Students study the state’s geography by looking at different regions and resources, as well as the often untold stories of California’s Indigenous People both past and present. They end the year by analyzing the movement of people throughout California and reading books about immigration.

 

Grade 2 students see a mini golf course through from ideation to completion. As part of this project, students work in teams to design a golf hole - they name it, make it challenging using angles, ramps, and obstacles, and even pick its par before creating a presentation for classmates using photos and videos about their design. They also visit local mini golf courses to practice their putting and learn more about the craft. Finally, students bring their visions to life and then invite parents and other grades to come try out their mini golf course! Through this project, students are able to get active while developing skills in math, robotics, creating and delivering presentations, and teamwork!

 

Grade 1 spends the year studying community and neighborhoods. Students ask themselves essential questions such as: What is my role as a community member? How can I help my community or neighborhood? What are my responsibilities as an individual and group member? What does safety within a community look, feel, and sound like? The study culminates with a hands-on project in which students build a model of the surrounding neighborhood, interview community members that contribute to the greater whole (i.e. librarians, mail person), and integrate the interviews directly onto the model using QR codes. Through this project, students learn about the physical aspects of neighborhoods, cardinal directions, community jobs, and developing interview skills.

 

Every spring, our Kindergarten classes begin their Emergent Units. The themes of these units are completely student driven, different between the classes, and vary every year. Themes are based on class discussions around interests and curiosities. Once the theme is determined, homeroom teachers get to work connecting with outside specialists and our in-house specialist teachers to integrate local and diverse activities and guest leaders to heighten the learning experience. The culminating project is then shared with the larger community through performances, public speaking, and interactive, hands on opportunities.

 

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