Just Because It’s June

The final week of the 2012-13 school year is now upon us; in the days ahead, we will salute the forty-two graduating members of the Class of 2013 and bid farewell to departing families, faculty, and staff. In addition, we will celebrate two of Hamlin’s great traditions: Tie Drop and the passing of the Daisy Chain. Both rites of passage signal to the girls that they are growing up and that greater responsibility and leadership come with age. We will also enjoy our annual Field Day on Tuesday, which will be even more special and spirited this year as we conclude our celebration of the 40th anniversary of Title IX. Missy Park, founder and CEO of the women’s sports apparel company title nine, will be our guest speaker and will kick off the games and activities at Fort Scott. Indeed, this is a joyful and busy time of year, and we are intently focused on saying thank you, appreciating each moment, and savoring each memory. We like to think of June as a smooth and safe landing after a long plane ride, not as a fast train coming to a screeching halt!

Program Update:

During our State of the School presentations in October 2012, I presented to you this year’s three educational program goals, which are a part of the first year of implementation of Be Extraordinary, our 2012-2017 strategic plan. Below please find a summary of highlights and accomplishments in these three program areas:
  1. Employee Evaluation:
    Ensuring excellence in the work force is a key component to realizing our goals for students and for the school as a whole, and we have implemented a process of annual evaluation of all faculty, staff, and administrators. At the time of this writing, all teachers and several members of the staff have received their evaluation reports in face-to-face meetings with their supervisors, and these conversations have inspired goal-setting for next year. There are several tweaks and changes to be made in terms of the process and tools used to evaluate employees, yet we have made the critical leap forward. As the saying goes, the journey of one thousand miles begins with the first step. Many independent schools evaluate teachers every two or three years, but we have chosen a far more ambitious model for Hamlin. I am pleased with where we are and look forward to furthering our growth in this area next year.
  2. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics):
    • Adoption of the new, updated, and accelerated Bridges Math curriculum for Kindergarten through Grade 2, which is tied to national Common Core Standards
    • Training in the new math program for all K-2 teachers
    • Math Specialist position for Grades 3-5 created and hired
    • Teachers in Grades 3-5 support learning goals in math through targeted, readiness-based, small group instruction
    • Teachers in Grades 3-5 use consistent technology tools to enhance their instruction and to measure mathematical thinking and procedural knowledge
    • Teachers in Grades 6-8 have refined the course offerings and placement process for performance-based math groups
    • Middle School math department staffed to increase opportunities for project-based learning
    • School-wide site license for IXL
    • Project-based learning framework used to inspire creative mathematical thinking
    • Longitudinal data from CTP-IV (“ERB’s”) in Middle School demonstrate strong growth in girls’ core competencies and mastery of grade-level content
    • Data from CTP-IV (“ERB’s”) in Lower School is used to assess program strengths and opportunities as well as the growth of individual students
    • Technology integration specialists and science teachers are developing a computer programming strand K-8 after a successful pilot program in Grade 4
    • Lego robotics introduced in Grade 4
    • Computer programming competition to be offered for Grades 6-8
    • Ipad pilot programs in Grades 2 and 6 are successful and are expanded for the 2013-14 school year
  3. Health and Wellness/Athletics
    • Health and Wellness Coordinator leads team of teachers to explore social-emotional learning curricula; The Toolbox Project is recommended and adopted for Grades K-5 for the 2013-14 school year
    • New food and snack program implemented for all girls; school kitchen to be renovated in summer 2013 to ensure healthier options for daily snack
    • School-wide celebration of 40th Anniversary of Title IX features guest speakers, field trips, and Title IX Family Night
    • Campus master planning begun to address the need for a regulation-sized gymnasium
    • Lacrosse clinic and squash program introduced
    • Expanded transportation for athletics practices provided by the school
    • Varsity Soccer team competes in the finals for the first time in over a decade
    • Robust participation in Middle School sports during all three seasons
    • Middle School advisory program and Health and Wellness curriculum coordinated
Much has been done this year to strengthen our educational program, and yet there is still much that we want to accomplish in these areas. The summer months will provide administrators and teachers ample time to attend institutes and conferences (or serve on their faculties), examine the scope and sequence of current programs, engage in curriculum design workshops, build working relationships with new colleagues, and receive advanced training in best practices. As for my own professional growth, I am incredibly excited to become a student again as I head to Harvard Business School in July to participate in an intensive executive education program for CEO’s of nonprofit organizations. The learning never stops! If you would like to read with the Hamlin faculty and staff this summer, we will be reading Emily Bazelon’s book Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. Emily Bazelon will join us at Hamlin for a book discussion in January 2014, so you have lots of time to read! Members of our Health and Wellness team highly recommended this book as we continue to emphasize compassion, courage, honesty, respect, and responsible decision-making as a part of the Hamlin program. Our strategic plan calls for increased attention to both academic and ethical excellence.

Personnel Update:

At the end of March, I wrote to the Hamlin community to announce upcoming personnel changes. As I indicated at that time, more news would be coming later in the spring, and here is that additional information:

Lower School: Danielle Arnold (Grade 2 Assistant Teacher) will depart to pursue her career after a wonderful year of partnership with Nellie Chisholm. I am also thrilled to report that Sheila Holman (Music and Science Associate Teacher) will work exclusively as a piano accompanist in Lower and Middle School next year, supporting daily music classes and special assemblies.

Middle School: Kelly Bartlett (Physical Education teacher, Climbing Wall Specialist, and Outdoor Education Coordinator) will relocate to the state of Washington for family reasons; in a short space of time, she has brought warmth and rigor to our physical education and climbing programs, and I know that her colleagues, advisees, and students will miss her greatly. Also departing at the end of the 2012-13 school year is longstanding Middle School art teacher Emily Miller, who has accepted a teaching position closer to home in the East Bay. Students at the Head Royce School will be the lucky beneficiaries of her talents as an artist and educator. We thank Emily for fifteen years of service to Hamlin as a dedicated teacher, advisor, Culture Club leader, and diversity coordinator.

Administration: When I came to Hamlin in 2008, Dan Dworkin held two important aspects of school life in his very capable hands: safety and technology. Over the past five years, the school’s needs in both areas have grown exponentially, and it is now time to envision the leadership of the two programs in a more robust and definitive way. I could not be happier to announce today that Dan Dworkin will become Hamlin’s Director of Safety as of July 1st. His responsibilities will be vast and far-reaching, spanning all aspects of school life on campus and off campus, and partnering with neighborhood schools and city officials. Dan will work diligently to ensure that the policies and protocols that are outlined in our excellent Safety Handbook are carried forth, and he will oversee the training of students and employees to build their capacity to respond in emergency situations. I wish it were not the case, but schools and universities across our nation need leaders who are consistently focused on protection and preparation; there is nothing more important than keeping our students, parent volunteers, and employees safe at all times, and Dan is the right person for this new role. A rigorous search for a Director of Educational Technology will be underway in the summer and early fall; in the interim, Assistant Head of School Marisa Bellingrath will lead the technology team.

New hires will be announced in the fall, so please stay tuned for the information-rich summer mailing! In the meantime, have a safe and wonderful summer, and thank you for yet another incredible year at Hamlin. I look forward to seeing you all on Wednesday, August 28th for the first day of school! I’m sure that there will be many summer stories for us to share.

With Affection and Gratitude,

Wanda M. Holland Greene
Head of School
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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 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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