Belonging & Well-Being
At Hamlin, we believe that successful scholars are kind, connected human beings who emanate joy.
Knowing that holistic Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is not limited to any one class, or to just once a week, SEL is woven throughout our curriculum and centers on an anti-bias and anti-racist lens that nurtures self-compassion and radical empathy and promotes well-being and a sense of belonging. We believe that in order to successfully meet the challenges of our time, it is essential that we intentionally and continually investigate our own biases. The desired result is unlearning ways of being that are roadblocks to engaging in holistic and healthy ways. The only way we can effectively move toward this goal is together; learning, sharing, growing, and holding each other accountable, in community.
In that spirit, Hamlin intentionally infuses anti-bias learning and practice into all we do, and opportunities to celebrate and investigate the many layers of our identities are an integral part of our K-8 curriculum.
Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)
Ensuring a balanced program that supports all facets of well-being is critical as our young students grow and learn in community, and Hamlin is committed to the holistic health of all our students. In order to provide students with the tools they need to operate as engaged and empathetic citizens, we use a combination of direct instruction and integration with other subjects. This work is informed primarily by Responsive Classroom, our Advisory program, our Lower and Middle School counselors, and the work of Hamlin’s Mental Health & Wellness Task Force.
Our Lower School Counselor works closely with each class Kindergarten through Grade 4 throughout the year, getting to know all students individually as well as supporting teachers in their design of SEL in the classroom. In Middle School, SEL curriculum is taught as a part of the Advisory program for students in Grades 6 through 8, and during weekly seminar classes for students in Grades 5 through 8. Advisory & SEL classes are safe and caring environments where students develop and deepen their awareness of self and others, practice managing their intrapersonal and interpersonal feelings, and hone their decision-making and relationship-building skills.
This Hamlin structure is intertwined with our Mission and Creed. Hamlin utilizes curriculum by IFSEL (Institute for Social Emotional Learning), Second Step, & Responsive Classroom. Our partnership with Common Sense Media also helps us to address the media literacy and digital wellness components of technology integration in our community.
The Advisory Program spans Grades 6 through 8. In addition to daily morning meetings, advisory groups meet for a longer period of time three to four times a week. The Advisory Program builds community and connection between students and teachers. Advisors work with the Middle School Leadership teams (including the Middle School Division Head and the Middle School Counselor) to create a program that meets the developmental needs and interests of the Middle School students. The small advisory group is intended to create a safe space for students to explore topics like friendships, ethical decision-making, digital wellness, self-care, puberty, conflict resolution, and self-identity. Students in Grade 5 through 8 also engage in “Ties & Tools” and seminar classes, which focus on health & wellness, mental health/emotions, friendships, mindfulness, putting the Creed in action, time management, self-care activities, relationships, core values, puberty/sex education, & body image.
- ALANA: The purpose of ALANA is to cultivate a time and space, when and where students of color can truly be themselves while also connecting with peers who look like them and/or share similar life stories. Research shows us that a sense of belonging is critical to emotional well-being and academic success. Our affinity group provides this space and community while moving Hamlin students one step closer towards a racially-just world.
- GSA: The Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) is a discussion group for any and all Middle School students who are committed to promoting safety and inclusion for LGBTQ+ youth and advocating for a harassment-free, healthy school community for all students. Participants engage in discussions and activities that focus on gender identity and expression, gender role stereotypes, sexual orientation, and justice for all people.
- Neurodiversity: Our Neurodiversity affinity group allows students to reflect, share, and find commonality in the variety of ways in which they are learners. This group focuses specifically on learning and sharing about learning differences as an important part of one’s identity and not as a label.
- Jewish Affinity: The goal of the Jewish Affinity Group is to provide an opportunity for students to develop their Jewish identities and build community with other Jewish students. The group discusses Judaism both as an ethnic and religious identity and the different ways that Judaism can be practiced. Students also learn about and celebrate Jewish holidays and traditions in order to help them build a sense of comfort in Jewish spaces.
- Body Positive Club: In this club students explore what it means to completely celebrate and appreciate our bodies and body differences. They learn to turn away from media messages and towards each other and their own stories. This is a space to listen, play, and create!
- Faculty & Staff Professional Development and Affinity Groups: Professional development for our faculty provides teachers the tools to continually ensure our curriculum and classroom culture remain innovative spaces of learning that encourage bold risk-taking and foster appreciation for the many differences and commonalities that make us who we are. Hamlin employees are also invited into affinity space at least once a month, and over half of our employees take advantage of this opportunity.
- PLAID: PLAID is a Hamlin Parents Association group focused on educating our community about diversity and promoting an inclusive environment. PLAID sponsors events throughout the school year, including thought-provoking films, panel discussions, cultural celebrations, and advocacy opportunities. While the panel discussions and conversations are for adults, PLAID cultural celebrations are family-friendly events that are open to the entire community.
- Anti-Bias Parenting Series: a parenting series is offered on an annual basis addressing how we can cultivate anti-bias households.
- Alumni Affinity: Hamlin’s DEI/BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Alumni Affinity Group provides a space for our BIPOC alumni to come together and share experiences and stories, reflect, heal, and help the school do better in supporting BIPOC students and alumni moving forward. For more info on our alumni affinity group, please contact Marissa Seto ’05, Advancement Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more info on our affinity spaces, please contact Melissa Skiles, Director of Community Well-being at email@example.com.
Health and Nutrition
Physical health is addressed in K-8 Physical Education and Science classes as well as during Outdoor Education trips. Topics include fitness and nutrition, physiology, and body positivity. In 2022, as part of our ever-increasing commitment to health and wellness, we also moved our lunch program in-house. We now have our very own Culinary Services Team with a stellar lineup of chefs and crew members! In our kitchen, we always remember that we are part of a greater environmental network. Our choices foster resilience and support alternative modes of food production while maintaining equity for all people at every point of the food chain. Equally exciting is the opportunity to partner with Hamlin teachers to make cooking part of the classroom experience. Our kitchen will support curriculum and educate around nutrition and personal and community wellness. Above all, the Hamlin Kitchen embraces the cross cultural significance of food, always remembering the joy of communal eating.
Mental Health and Wellness Task Force
Hamlin formed a task force in Spring of 2020 comprised of alumni, current and former parents, students, faculty, and practitioners in the field of mental health. The task force developed six core competencies to center Hamlin’s work on the social and emotional development of our students and the larger community. Work in these areas is key to the Hamlin educational experience and is ongoing.
- Physical, Emotional, and Mental Health
- Global Awareness and Social Justice
- Growth Mindset, Flexibility, and Resilience
- Healthy Relationships
- Self-Awareness and Identity
- Empathy, Compassion, Diverse Perspectives