Speeches

LS Grandparents’ and Special Friends Day: Friday, March 29, 2013
8:45

“Song”: “My Girl”
Good morning, grandparents, special friends, parent volunteers, faculty and staff. If you are here for your very first Grandparents and Special Friends Day, welcome to The Hamlin School. For those of you who have returned to visit us this year, welcome back. My name is Wanda Holland Greene, and for the past five years, I have had the distinct pleasure and awesome responsibility of being the head of this fine school. It is my pleasure to greet you all this morning.

You may already know that The Hamlin School has been around for a long time. The school was established in the late 1800’s. That was a time when:
  • A tweet was the pleasant sound of a bird, not a brief electronic message for people to follow
  • A time when the word text was a noun, not a verb
  • Uber was simply a German word people used to express the superlative, not a fabulous car service
  • Kindle meant to start a fire and was not an alternative method for reading and storing books
  • A privacy setting was a cozy chair in a library or a soak in our bathtub, not an internet term
My, how things have changed.

Our school’s founder, Sarah Dix Hamlin, declared that the girls and young women here would be educated to meet the challenges of their time. Our recently revised mission statement still conveys the sentiments of our audacious and wise founder, who was born in Westford, MA and came all the way to San Francisco, CA to begin her school.

Our mission states: The Hamlin School educates girls to meet the challenges of their time, and inspires them to become extraordinary thinkers and innovators, courageous leaders, and women of integrity.

This year, our school will celebrate 150 years of excellence in education for girls.
In just a few minutes, you are going to enjoy seeing your granddaughters and special friends on stage being their smart and charming selves just for you, and then you are going on a guided adventure through our Lower School.

One of the signature projects you will explore is an incredible ocean filled with kelp, fish, and sea creatures. This marvelous interdisciplinary, cross grade level project was created by the 200 artists and scientists of the Lower School. Now don’t waste a minute wondering if your granddaughter or special friend is either an artist or a scientist. At Hamlin, she is both. Each girl’s whole brain is engaged daily. We insist that she experiment with colors and with ideas, that she make mistakes, take risks, and yes, even fail sometimes. We encourage her to resist perfectionism and to stretch her mind well beyond her comfort zone.

Olliver Windell Holmes Jr., one of the most influential and frequently cited Unites States Supreme Court Justices of the 20th century, once said that a mind that is stretched never regains its original dimensions. I love that idea of a Hamlin Lower School girl coming to school each day and being stretched, challenged, and changed by what she encounters in her Lower School classroom. If a girl goes home exactly the same way she came to school, then we have wasted precious time and squandered a critically important opportunity to cultivate innovative leaders who will be able to solve many of the world’s challenges. She should come home messy, slightly disheveled, with all kinds of new ideas circling in her head.

One of the many important things that the teachers here have been talking about is creating innovators. Helping our girls to harness the power of their own creativity and inventiveness. That’s why the ocean is such a beautiful example of that effort.

Creativity and innovation are about stretching the mind’s dimensions and daring to do things that have not been done before. It is about increasing our tolerance to fail as we work. Creative artists and scientists believe that persistent problems can be solved through innovative thinking, courageous and collaborative conversations, and stepping forward with bold action into a place of uncertainty. Creative leaders are those who stand in the dark and say, “Let there be light.”

Many of you already know, and others have probably guessed by now, that I am the daughter of a minister. As a child, I remember looking up at the pulpit from a church pew and listening to my father read the creation story from the book of Genesis. I was in awe of any spiritual force that could speak things into existence by the mere words, “Let there be.” Now that’s the power of creation, I remember thinking. As a grown woman and the head of a school for girls and young women, I have come to believe that there is something divine in each of us, and we possess the power to create new realities for ourselves and for the world. With precisely uttered words and deliberately chosen actions, girls and women are changing their circumstances for the better and are becoming the authors of a new kind of genesis. Girl are rising, and I truly believe that girls will change the world.

The noble and sacred work of preparing the children for the future begins with preparing ourselves and nurturing our own creative spirits. Grandparents and special friends are often the gatekeepers of creativity—the work and play with the hands—cooking favorite recipes, tending gardens, making crafts and art projects from scraps around the house, fixing and tinkering, teaching card games, taking trips to the park and the museum, telling stories at the table. Don’t forget to nurture your granddaughter or special friend’s creative mind. Think of her as an artist and a scientist.

I am so blessed to be the head of this wonderful school, and today we are blessed by the loving presence of hundreds of grandparents and special friends. On behalf of everyone at Hamlin, welcome, and thank you again for being here. Enjoy the morning.

MS Grandparents’ and Special Friends Day: Friday, March 29, 2013
10:15

Good morning, grandparents, special friends, parent volunteers, faculty and staff. Welcome to Grandparents and Special Friends Day! My name is Wanda Holland Greene, and for the past five years, I have had the distinct pleasure and awesome responsibility of being the head of this fine school. By the time the girls are in Middle School, there fewer guests who are here for the very first time—but I know you are out there. For those of you who have returned to visit us this year, welcome back. It is my pleasure to greet you all this morning.

You may already know that The Hamlin School has been around for a long time. The school was established in the late 1800’s. That was a time when:
  • A tweet was the pleasant sound of a bird, not a brief electronic message for people to follow
  • A time when the word text was a noun, not a verb
  • Uber was simply a German word people used to express the superlative, not a fabulous car service
  • Kindle meant to start a fire and was not an alternative method for reading and storing books
  • A privacy setting was a cozy chair in a library or a soak in our bathtub, not an internet term
My, how things have changed.

Our school’s founder, Sarah Dix Hamlin, declared that the girls and young women here would be educated to meet the challenges of their time. Our recently revised mission statement still conveys the sentiments of our audacious and wise founder, who was born in Westford, MA and came all the way to San Francisco, CA to begin her school.

Our mission states: The Hamlin School educates girls to meet the challenges of their time, and inspires them to become extraordinary thinkers and innovators, courageous leaders, and women of integrity.

This year, our school will celebrate 150 years of excellence in education for girls.
Before we go any further, I want to pause for a moment of silence for all of the grandparents who are with us in spirit but who have passed away. Each year, there are Middle School girls who lose a grandparent, and that loss is often the first deep grief they experience. Let’s create a quiet space and invite the love of those grandparents into our gathering space.

Thank you.

The girls in our 7th and 8th grades are going to close our assembly this morning with a terrific song called “Pure Imagination” from their upcoming show, Willy Wonka Jr. It reminds me of one of my favorite songs by John Lennon…

Song, “Imagine”

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

“Imagine,” the title of John Lennon’s second solo album and its title track, is one of my all-time favorite songs. I was only three years old when it was recorded and released in 1971, so I must credit my 10th grade history teacher Barbara Bartle for introducing me to The Beatles in a course she designed called, “The Turbulent Decade.” I remember that she was unable to teach a single lesson without becoming incredibly emotional—in my mind’s eye, I can still see her wide-eyed elation as she discussed her revelry at Woodstock (she showed us her frayed concert ticket as if it were an Academy Award)—and I will never forget her look of defeat and disillusionment as she described America’s involvement in Vietnam. I took Mrs. Bartle’s history course during the winter trimester in 1982, exactly two years after John Lennon had been shot just a short distance away from our school, and she played “Imagine” for us in his memory. I was moved by the clarity and simplicity of the melody and the lyrics, which seemed to me both then and now a plea for all humankind to take responsibility for the condition of the world and to wage peace locally and globally. John Lennon’s song “Imagine” is masterful in that it offers us a Utopian vision of the world while at the same time asks the critical question, “If life on earth as we currently know it is all that we have, what will we make of it?” It’s a powerful question. Can we envision something different than what we see in front of us? How important is the imagination in the life of a human being—in the life of Middle School girl?

The answer to that question? VERY IMPORTANT. The essential goal of any curriculum is to cause students to imagine, to conger, to invent, to think, to dream, to synthesize seemingly disparate parts into an extraordinary new whole. At Hamlin, we are deeply committed to creating learning experiences for Middle School girls that cause them to believe that they have the heart and head to alter reality—to change the world. During the years when the girls are under our care and tutelage, our mission compels us to prepare them to meet the challenges of their time, and long after they have gone from us, we expect them to contribute to the world with energy and distinction. While it is true that they acquire knowledge and skills at each grade level, we believe what Albert Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

The noble and sacred work of preparing children for the future begins with preparing ourselves and nurturing our own imaginations—our own creative spirits. Grandparents and special friends are often the gatekeepers of creativity—the work and play with the hands and the mind— telling stories at the table, solving puzzles, cooking favorite recipes, making crafts and art projects from scraps around the house, fixing and tinkering, teaching card games, taking trips to the park and the museum.

So, when the girls sing, “Pure Imagination,” see yourself as part of the work of helping her to reach her full potential, not only as a Middle School girl, but as a dreamer who will one day change the world.

Thank you.
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Wanda M. Holland Greene

Wanda M. Holland Greene is currently in her ninth year as Head of School. She is a proud New Yorker and a graduate of Columbia College, receiving her B.A. in English and Psychology. She earned her M.A. in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University. Wanda complements her work as an educator by serving independent schools and as trustee for Columbia University. She is a vocal performer (jazz, gospel, and soul), an avid reader, poet, and writer.

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The Hamlin School
2120 Broadway
San Francisco. California 94115
Tel. 415.922.0300 • Fax. 415.674.5409
Tax ID #: 94-1393894

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Our Mission

The Hamlin School educates girls to meet the challenges of their time and inspires them to become extraordinary thinkers and innovators, courageous leaders, and  women of integrity.

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