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 faculty full of life-changers

In recent weeks, I have spoken – in person or via Skype – with a half-dozen semifinalist candidates for our Preschool Teacher/Director position. In January we’ll welcome the finalists for full days of interviews, tours, demonstration lessons, meals and meetings.

With this and all our faculty searches, it is a happy challenge (and probably my most significant responsibility) to identify truly extraordinary candidates and discern the best matches for our community.

At this point, we seek the following (all to begin in August of 2015):

If and when additional openings arise, we’ll post them on the “Careers” page of our …

Posted by mulkus on Sunday November 30, 2014
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Writing the history and future of America

Last week I surprised one of our students by telling her she was on the front page of the Durham Herald-Sun. “No joke,” I said, showing her the picture at right and the story about her class’s poignant work with local veterans.  

As a project in Jordan Adair's "Literary and Artistic Responses to War" elective, students organized a public tribute ceremony during which they retold the stories of veterans. Click here to read the Herald-Sun story. Or click here to read an article in a recent DA Record about Adair’s work to honor veterans through annual Upper School assemblies.

Yesterday I was copied on a touching letter from the daughter of a veteran honored last week. Her words (shared here with permission) reminded me of the many connections between fathers and…

Posted by mulkus on Sunday November 23, 2014
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Blossom and STEM

In one of our recent listening sessions for DA's 2015 Strategic Plan, a parent made a perplexing point about the place of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) courses in the Middle and Upper School curricula. 

His point was straightforward: be careful about over-estimating the value of STEM with younger learners. "They can learn math and science at any age," he said [and I paraphrase], "but they can learn to love learning, the value of truth, and the beauty of humanity only when they are young." 

The argument has been bouncing around in my brain for a few weeks now - in part because I'm not sure I agree, in part because the arguer is a distinguished mathematician and scientist, and in part because he shared a compelling report and beautiful video to …
Posted by mulkus on Monday November 17, 2014
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Big Apple, big gratitude, big ideas, big lives

Last week I enjoyed a quick trip to New York City, where I joined a specially-invited dozen DA alumni (graduates ranging from 1979 to 2008) for a listening and brainstorming session for our strategic planning process.

As was my similar day in San Francisco, the dinner was a delight – overflowing with gratitude for teachers and popping with good ideas about the school and the future of education. Just as we will share the compiled data from our recent online survey (look for those in Thursday's News and Notes), we will share the compiled results of these listening sessions after the last of them: November 20 in Boston.

Our New York group was helpfully diverse, with an actor, an artist, two attorneys, two financiers, and a range of businesses represented in the group. DA alumnus …

Posted by mulkus on Monday November 10, 2014
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Two Cavs taking action

Our parents and alumni routinely inspire me. Today’s examples relate to Ebola – a threat that may be met with fear and blame, or rather with knowledge and action.

Here are two DA community members choosing the latter.

Last week Lower School parent George Ofori-Amanfo launched a campaign to raise money to support the international effort to fight the Ebola epidemic. Ebola1ForLife is a call on Africans all over the world, friends of Africa, and everyone with link to Africa (by birth, marriage, family, friendships, travel, business, etc.) to donate one dollar or more as often as desired to support ongoing international effort to stop the spread of the disease.

Dr. Ofori-Amanfo, a pediatric cardiac intensive care physician who directs the Peri-Op Cardiac Services and …

Posted by mulkus on Friday November 7, 2014
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Bridges across the pond

Today our Preschoolers heard stories read by older guests. This is no rarity, of course, for parent readers visit our PreK and Kindergarten classes every week.

Today’s guests were truly special, however - our neighbors from Emerald Pond Senior Living Community across Pickett Road.

Interim Preschool Director Sheri-lyn Carrow has spearheaded a collaboration that has so far included a Halloween trick-or-treating visit, paper quilt-making activity, and the guest reader series that began today. Emerald Pond residents will also enjoy a sneak preview performance of the Winter Songfest and be treated to several more DA Preschool art projects.

In a recent email, Sheri-lyn shared with her faculty colleagues another budding connection: “[During the Halloween visit] two of our boys who …

Posted by mulkus on Wednesday November 5, 2014 at 06:23PM
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