Heads Up

Welcome to Heads Up, a blogging experiment that aims to: 

  • connect the people, parts, and principles of Durham Academy;
  • share ideas about learning and human development;
  • spotlight a few of the many wondrous things I get to see every day at Durham Academy. 

Thanks for reading the posts below — and sending news, links and ideas worth sharing. 

Michael Ulku-SteinerHead of School 

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Changing the iPad, Being the Change

How to Change the World (thoughts from Dan Kimberg and members of Student U's class of 2013):

When Student U students first arrived on campus in June of 2007, we proclaimed “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.” We asked students to write down a dream they had for the future on green cut out circles, many of which hung on my wall in my office years later. Students shared dreams to end gang violence, find homes for all abandoned dogs, solve Global Warming, and close the achievement gap. Our sixth graders (now seniors in high school) were an ambitious group! After dreams were written, we explained that at Student U, “crazy dreams come true.” We shared that if they committed their best selves to working with Student U, together, we could turn those …
Posted by in Other on Wednesday October 30, 2013
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A hero of hope returns

This morning, DA alumnus Chris Rosati ’89 held the Upper School assembly audience in spellbound silence as he told them that he would soon die.
“Don’t worry - this won’t be a morbid talk,” said Chris, who went on to entertain and inspire our students with a message of humor and hope that has crystallized in the three years since Chris was diagnosed with A.L.S (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
“Live, love, and try,” advised Chris – telling stories about each of those things from his days as a DA student, his failures and successes as an entrepreneur, and the abundance of friendships and family love he enjoys like never before.
To see a bit more about Chris, click here to see a short video he made with some friends at a benefit poker …
Posted by in Upper School, Alumni on Wednesday October 30, 2013
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Warily, Schools Watch Students on the Internet

Julian Cochran (US Technology Coordinator, Computer Science Teacher, and Varsity Boys Soccer Coach) shared an interesting article from yesterday's New York Times. It includes some thoughts from John Palfrey, the current Head of Phillips Academy who presented at DA a few years ago (while serving as the Director of the Berkman Center for the Internet and Society at Harvard). An excerpt from the article:

[Palfrey] briefly contended with this question last year when students created a blog where they could anonymously share “secrets.” Many posts were on the fringe, Mr. Palfrey recalled, and some teachers and students were concerned that children’s identities could be determined from their writing patterns. The blog’s student founders were persuaded to add a note of …
Posted by in Upper School on Tuesday October 29, 2013
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See Zack see bikes go

Zack Davenport '08 spent a lot of time doodling in the back of my Spanish 3 class. Now the DA alumnus is a graphic designer in New York City. For the past month, he and a friend have been visualizing data to tell the story of Citi Bike, New York City's first-ever bicycle share program. Click here to check out the project.

Just this morning Zack's work was featured in Fast Company's co.Exist blog. See the story here.

Click "read more" to see Zack on DA graduation day. Or check out his website and Dribbble page. Thanks to Zack for teaching an old fogey what a Dribble page is.

Posted by in Alumni on Tuesday October 29, 2013
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Make your soul grow

I taught 9th Grade English at DA for nearly a decade. Among the novels that seemed to press the deepest into the memories of my students (the one to which they most frequently refer in emails even now): Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five.

It's been years since I read or taught the book but I think Vonnegut's staying power grows in part from his combination of irreverance and reverence - the latter toward the most humane aspects of our culture and consciousness.

Today my colleague Gib Fitzpatrick (MS math teacher and soccer coach) shared this letter - written from Vonnegut himself to a group of high school students in New York in 2006. An excerpt:

What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, …
Posted by in Upper School, Other on Monday October 28, 2013
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Nye's Ninjas return

Our Lower School teachers typically send weekly newsletters to the parents of their students. This week, 1st grade teacher Rosemary Nye sent a "Special Edition' video recap of the week. Click here to see the "Nye Ninjas" explain about reading, writing, 'rithmatic, and resources. Extra credit if you can watch without saying "awwwwwww."

Posted by in Lower School on Saturday October 26, 2013
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Mom turns to the Hill

The Hill Center was featured in WRAL’s “Go Ask Mom” blog on Wednesday - more good exposure for the state's best resource for parents and students with learning differences.

Posted by in Other on Friday October 25, 2013
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Cinderella of the South

Posted by in Lower School on Thursday October 24, 2013
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Gleeful gleaners

As part of their ongoing community service efforts, the 6th grade advisories of Susie Hoercher, Julie Williams, Wanda Moore and Patti Donnelly gleaned sweet potatoes yesterday afternoon. In less than two hours, they gleaned 4,230 pounds -- all donated to New Focus Community Mission in Enfield, NC and other families in need. Click here to see our students in action.

Posted by in Other on Thursday October 24, 2013
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Paying it forward

Jeff Parkin, MS Counselor and one of the planet's gentlest souls, shared (with me and the Middle School Advisors) a great article from Sunday's New York Times. In a world of bickering polititians and fear-soaked media, "paying it forward" is something that ought to go viral.

If you place an order at the Chick-fil-A drive-through off Highway 46 in New Braunfels, Tex., it’s not unusual for the driver of the car in front of you to pay for your meal in the time it took you to holler into the intercom and pull around for pickup.

“The people ahead of you paid it forward,” the cashier will chirp as she passes your food through the window.

Confused, you look ahead at the car — it could be a mud-splashed monster truck, Mercedes or minivan — which at this point is …
Posted by in Middle School on Tuesday October 22, 2013
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