Hamilton Elementary School Update

The mentor program continues to be strong.  We have over 80 mentors meeting weekly with students.  About 30% of our mentors are meeting off campus and enjoy having the kids at their homes, taking them to ball games, to lunch, etc.  Our program is in it's 4th school year and it is morphing into more than just the mentor program.  We are a support for the administration in their pursuit of equity for the underserved children at Hamilton.  About 60% of these adults are Marin Covenant folks.  We are in dire need of more mentors.  We currently have 57 kids on our waitlist but could easily have 50 more on that list.   We have a new mentor training on November 1st!
If you are interested in being a mentor or would like to hear more about the program click here for the evite! You don't need to do anything, just come!

We have opened the HAWK center Monday through Friday.  The HAWK center has morphed into more of an enrichment center than a homework center.  The HAWK center is run by a Hamilton School employee,  that we pay for with a grant that we will hopefully get again this year.  In addition to her, we recruit students from high schools to volunteer.  We have about 25 signed up.  We currently don't have any MCC students so this might be something we think about.  It would be great to have them in the center.   The students do get their homework done, but then are asked to participate in enrichment activities which include math, reading, educational games, etc.  We just acquired 5 computers, so we would like to add some coding programs as options as well.  We are trying to create the environment that their more privileged peers have at home; some structure and opportunities to participate in educational activities that do not revolve around the iPhone!!  We are now open fridays strictly for enrichment.  The offerings will change by season.  Right now we are offering Chess and Soccer.  We have two girls from MC Varsity Soccer running a soccer program called Kick It and a mentor is teaching the kids Chess.  The friday kids participate in both.  

This year we have 6 kids that have graduated from Hamilton and moved to Novato High mostly with one going to San Marin, and one going to Redwood.  The mission of the mentor program is to be a bridge between Hamilton and College or a career.  This is challenging as we don't necessarily have a mentor program or center at the high schools. (Although it is my understanding that mentor me is creating one).  Michele is currently working at Novato High to help the mentors ease this transition.  In doing this we have met several times with the Assistant Principal Jenn Nickl and helped coordinate meetings between the mentors and their student's advisor.  We have come to find out that their are many obstacles at Novato High for our students.  One of them is that the library is not open after school with the exception of an hour and a half of tutoring three days a week from 3:30-5:00.  This is very unfortunate as most of our freshmen don't have a 7th period and get out at 1:40 two days a week and 2:20 the other three days.  Without a library they don't have a place to go to do homework or even use the internet. (Some of our kids don't have internet at home). What actually happens is that about 200-500 kids descend upon downtown Novato at 1:40 with nothing to do the rest of the day!!  Even aside from not getting their homework done, this is not a great idea.  We have applied for a grant with School fuel to hopefully pay to keep the library open 5 days a week until at least 4:00, hopefully 5:00.  In addition, there is really a need for these kids to have more support.  It is essential that we make this piece work.  For a variety of reasons, our mentor kids are not prepared for the challenge and are not adequately supported at Novato High.  We are working with the administration at Hamilton and Novato High to find ways to help our kids be more successful. 

With the help of a donor and a teacher at Hamilton tomorrow we will open the Hamilton Chess club on M,W, and F during lunch.

As I said earlier, we are also teaching Chess on Fridays in the HAWK center.  The studies are conclusive that learning Chess helps raise test scores and increase their analytical and emotional intelligence skills.   It is our hope that we will eventually have a team and be able to compete against other schools.  We were able to subscribe to a program called:   https://chess4life.com

In fact, the guy who created this program is Phiona Mutesi's coach (Queen of Katwe).  His name is Elliott Neff and he is the founder of this program.  He will be coming to Hamilton on October 27th to help our chess teachers learn his program which will make our chess sessions more beneficial and interesting for our kids.  So exciting!

In addition, we are always looking for ways to help out with the athletic program.  The athletic program is very important to us and to Hamilton School.  As we talked about once, one of the things we noticed in our mentor kids was a general lack of grit.  In reading Angela Duckworth's book:  Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance it was evident that extracurricular activities make a huge difference in creating grit in a child.  She theorizes that Grit is created when a child does something that is fun and is hard.  They are willing to persevere because it is fun and by persevering they learn that hard work has rewards. School is hard but not necessarily fun.  Hanging out with friends is fun, but not hard.   Things that might qualify are: soccer, basketball, cross country, ballet, piano, etc.  She also theorizes that this is why kids from lower socio economic homes tend to have less grit than their more privileged peers.  Parents don't have the money for extracurriculars and if they do get a scholarship the parents are unable to drive due to work commitments.  Grit transfers over into academics and life in general making this program essential.  This year Hamilton will have boys and girls soccer, co-ed cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls wrestling and co-ed track and field.  In addition, Hamilton school was able to hire an athletic director making all of this a reality.  In fact they even have a website:  http://hamiltonmiddleathletics.com

One of our volunteers, Mike Thomas, is the head coach for Cross Country this year and Michele is assisting him.  Mike and another mentor Mike Smylie will be coaching boys basketball as well.  The vans have been a huge help for the athletic program as well as for field trips.  For cross country we have used them for practicing in Pacheco hills as well as for driving the kids to the meets.  Soon they will be painted with the Hamilton name and logo.

Marin Covenant, we are so grateful for all of your continued support!

If you would like more information on how to partner with us at Hamilton, or to get more information regarding our numerous other outreach opportunities email our outreach team at outreach@marincovenant.org