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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A drop of golden sun

Thanks to Teacher/Documentarian Rosemary Nye, our first grade film stars are back in action - this time with advice about how to be a kind friend, a good sport, and a welcoming person. Click here to see their newest 5-minute video.

Or here to see their last creation, an aid to memorizing their names.

Posted by in Lower School on Saturday November 30, 2013
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Gratitude, nobility, and happiness

Aesop wrote that “gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” During this Thanksgiving week and throughout the year, we work hard to build habits of gratitude in our students.

Two weeks ago, the theme of our Lower School assembly was “Have a grateful heart.” To surprise the students and their teachers, Math Teacher Gib Fitzpatrick brought more than fifty thank-you letters on paper and a team of Middle Schoolers to share their thanks in person with Mercedes Almodovar, Tom Barry, Renee Garber, Libby Lang, Rosemary Nye, Chris Mason, Lyn Streck, Debbie Suggs and Cindy Sundy. Click here to see the full text of the speeches read that day.

Or click here to see some Upper Schoolers thanking their Middle School teachers at an October assembly.

Or here to see my post about the …

Posted by in Middle School on Friday November 29, 2013
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NCAA champ lands at DA

Pictured above are DA students Peyton Dilweg and Stephen Watson with Curtis Beach, the best athlete ever produced by my hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Curtis has been working this winter with Peyton and Stephen, DA’s best jumpers.

With his typically encyclopedic memory, DA track and cross country coach (and math department chair) Dennis Cullen shared more about these three athletes:

Peyton’s best long jump (17 feet, 2 inches) is less than 2 inches short of our school record. Stephen (who has jumped 20 feet, 7.5 inches) is chasing DA’s oldest track record (21 feet, 3.75 inches), set by Les Ottolenghi in 1980.

Curtis graduated from Albuquerque Academy in 2009. While there, he set the national high school record in the decathlon. He’s not big, but he runs and …
Posted by in Other on Wednesday November 27, 2013
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Music as mirror, mediator, and mystic

DA Parent of three Ingrid Bianca Byerly was recently featured at TEDx Cincinnati, where she made the case for music as the universe's most effective bridge. From TEDx: "In her provocative talk, she reveals how music is not merely unsurpassed in aesthetic and entertainment potential, but unparalleled as a defining, transformative and prophetic force of communication between individuals and societies." Click here to see Ingrid's talk.

Posted by in Other on Tuesday November 26, 2013
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Second City success for DA debaters

Good news from Speech and Debate Coach Robert Sheard:

Greetings from frigid Chicago! As you can tell from the timestamp [1:56 am], it's late, but I wanted to share the news with you before we lose tomorrow (today) to travel.

This weekend the Cavaliers competed at The Glenbrooks, one of the four most prestigious tournaments of the year (the other three being Harvard, The Tournament of Champions, and NFL Nationals).

I want to congratulate Zain Clapacs on being a quarterfinalist in Extemporaneous Speaking and earning another bid to the Extemp Tournament of Champions.
But our Public Forum teams were show-stoppers. After 6 prelim rounds, our three entries were a combined 14-4. Will Ruff and Justin Katz were one of only three undefeated teams (out of 151 entries). Eilene Yang and Loften …
Posted by in Upper School on Monday November 25, 2013
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Math prof's email goes viral

If you haven’t seen it already, this email from a UC Berkeley math lecturer to his students is worth your time. Alexander Coward may be right or wrong about his political stance. His intuition about the virtue and urgency of education, however, strikes me as entirely correct.

Photo Credit: Mathematical Association of America.

Posted by in Other on Monday November 25, 2013
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A match, not a prize

Having helped our Seniors file a few hundred early applications at colleges and universities across the country, DA’s College Counseling team (Kathy Cleaver, Elizabeth Everett and Nancy Swain) continues to support and strategize with our students.

Last week Kathy and Elizabeth offered 11th Grade parents a clear, thorough, and reassuring look at the path ahead. The point of “The Process” for all our college aspirants: using introspection and research to find a range of well-matched communities for the next steps of their educational journeys.

To read more about DA’s College Counseling program, click here.

To see the wide variety of colleges and universities at which our last four Senior classes have matriculated, click here.

Click “read more” to see the …

Posted by in Upper School on Sunday November 24, 2013
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Seeing our true colors through visitors' eyes

Last week we hosted our second Pre and Lower School Tour and Information session for interested families. Parents dipped into classrooms, heard from Sheppy Vann and Carolyn Ronco about our curricula, and asked all kinds of good questions.

During one of the tours, I watched some kindergartners preparing for Tuesday’s Preschool Fall Songfest. Visitors are welcome in Brumley Auditorium at 8:30. Those who can’t make this cute-apalooza in person can click here for 30 seconds of behind-the-scenes Songfest rehearsal action - captured over the shoulder of a visiting parent.

Posted by in Lower School on Sunday November 24, 2013
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Changing bulbs

Monday's sunshine made it feel like spring, but autumn is unmistakably upon us. The friends of the Lower School Giving Garden recently rolled up their sleeves to prepare the garden for winter. Click here to read more about this remarkable corner of our campus.

Posted by in Lower School on Thursday November 21, 2013
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Writing from AP English to NPR, from Paris to Taipei

Our alumni often surprise us with the range and scope of their lives and work. Thibault Worth ’92 published an interesting story in yesterday’s issue of The Guardian about the rise of cooperatives as viable and sustainable business structures.

Thibault, whose taste for international travel and storytelling was honed on one of Bobbie Hardaker’s DA summer trips to Africa, has worked as a journalist and non-profit leader in San Francisco, Paris, Taipei, and more. Click here to see his website – more evidence that DA has a knack for teaching writing and social responsibility.

Posted by in Alumni on Thursday November 21, 2013
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