Durham Academy believes strongly in the value of community service. A commitment to service is woven through student life starting in pre-k and helps students develop leadership skills as they gain age-appropriate experience.
Engaging with people from diverse backgrounds and abilities, both on campus and in the larger Durham community, can significantly enhance students' sense of responsibility, selflessness, self-reliance, compassion and respect for others. Community service contributions are regularly recognized and celebrated at DA.
Durham Academy is proud to partner with the following organizations, reflecting the school's deeper connection with Durham and the broader community.
The Hill Center was established in 1997 in Durham, North Carolina as the Hill Learning Development Center, with a mission to provide an intensive remediation program for students with specific learning disabilities or attention deficit disorders. Originally established as an adjunct program of nearby Durham Academy, in 1980 the Center was dedicated to founder George Watts Hill and renamed The Hill Center.
In 1998, The Hill Center became a separate 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with its own Board of Directors. Today, Hill operates as an affiliate of Durham Academy and serves a range of public and private school students, teachers, schools, and school districts. The Hill Center offers a unique half-day program to students in grades K-12 with diagnosed learning disabilities or attention deficit disorders who are enrolled at either a public or private school for a portion of the day. In addition, The Hill Center offers a five-week Summer Program for students in grades K-8 that provides daily instruction in reading, written language, and math.
In addition to providing academic remediation for students and professional development for teachers, Hill also assists parents in planning for their child’s individual needs. The Hill Center is concerned with developing awareness and understanding of learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder by providing information both locally and at the national level. Hill offers information, consultation, and workshops to schools and individuals interested in instructional methods or general information about learning disabilities and/or attention deficit disorders.
Student U is a college-access organization that believes all students in Durham have the ability to succeed. In order to make this dream a reality, Student U creates a pipeline of services to support students through middle and high school. By providing direct services during out of school time in the summer and after-school, and advocating for students and families within schools, Student U ensures that students develop the academic skills and personal well-being needed to beat the statistics and succeed in college.
Durham Academy serves as the home for Student U's Summer Academy. Members of the DA community serve as teachers, mentors, board members and volunteers for Student U.
Student U welcomed its first class of 50 students and 16 teachers in the summer of 2007, as a result of a collaboration between Durham Public Schools, Durham Academy, UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. Central University and Duke University. In May 2014, 40 students from that inaugural class announced their intended college during Student U's first College Signing Day, to a Carolina Theater packed with supportive friends and family there to celebrate their success.
The Student U model is successful because it harnesses students' power to change the world. The program inspires and empowers students of all ages by challenging them to use their passion to make a difference in their community. As a part of Student U, students and teachers of all ages develop a shared vision for a brighter future and gain the courage and skills necessary to make that vision a reality.
For more than three decades, Durham Academy has hosted Durham County Special Olympians each spring for a day of friendly competition. Every year, the Durham County Special Olympics Spring Games brings more than 1,000 local athletes, special education teachers, and families to DA's Upper School campus.
The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. Special Olympics North Carolina is one of the largest Special Olympics programs in the world with more than 38,000 registered athletes who train and compete in year-round programs in 19 different sports.
DA cancels a full day of classes, offers DA facilities, and staffs the entire event with Upper School student and faculty volunteers to reinforce DA's commitment to Durham. Even more powerfully, DA students — whether working throughout the year as organizers, managing individual events, or serving as athletes' "buddies" that day — learn profound lessons about competition, courage, and community.
The Augustine Project is a Chapel Hill based nonprofit founded in 1994. Its mission is to train and support volunteer tutors who provide free, long-term, one-on-one instruction in reading, writing and spelling to low-income children and teens who struggle with literacy skills. Economically and academically disadvantaged students in more than 90 schools and after school programs around the Triangle benefit from Augustine intervention. Longtime former DA faculty member Debbie McCarthy is Augustine's executive director.
Since 2007, DA seniors have had the opportunity to take a year-long elective that trains them to use the project's research-based, multisensory, phonetic literacy curriculum, based on the Orton Gillingham approach. They learn why some children struggle with reading (ESL issues, learning differences, poverty) and how to address the problem. They learn the sobering statistics associated with childhood illiteracy: 80 percent of African-American fourth-graders and 77 percent of Latino fourth-graders in North Carolina score “below proficient” in reading (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2013) and 85 percent of all juvenile offenders have a reading difficulty.
After a month of preparation, each DA senior is paired with a low-income child at a local elementary school. To be eligible for tutoring, the child must qualify for free or reduced price lunch and perform below grade level in reading. Lessons last 45 minutes and take place three times a week from September through May.
The results are remarkable and reciprocal, with statistics bearing out the truth of the Augustine Literacy Project slogan: “Tutor one child. Change two lives.”
Durham Nativity School aims to educate and empower each child to reach their full potential. Without regard to race, religion or ethnicity, the school provides a tuition-free, enriched learning environment and an 11-year support system for middle school boys who have the ability and commitment to achieve, yet lack the resources to attend a quality, independent school.
Founded by Joe and Ann Carole Moylan (parents of six Durham Academy alumni), Durham Nativity School is now led by a board that includes DA alumnus, trustee and current parent Brendan Moylan, DA alumnus and current parent Roger Jeffs, and DA parents of alumni Diane Evia-Lanevi, Jeffrey Scales and Andy Widmark.
DNS provides a rigorous academic program and nurtures the whole child to reach his potential through knowledge, moral values, learning skills, discipline, and character development. DNS instills service for others while building tomorrow’s role models and community leaders.
DA has enrolled several DNS graduates — each of whom have won the respect of their peers with a combination of talent, tenacity, and character. DA teachers, led by Lower School Technology Coordinator Michele Gutierrez, also lead DNS's "Saturday Academy" series to assist with their admissions process.
Durham Academy's partnership with the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Topsail Beach has spanned more than 16 years. Third-graders get to work each spring creating beautiful bookmarks, keychains, jewelry and more for their annual Third Grade Sea Turtle Gift Shop.
Proceeds benefit the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Topsail Beach, which the students visit as a year-end trip.
Third-graders typically raise about $3,000 to benefit the center each year.
Since 1980 the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill has offered a comforting home away from home and a community of support for seriously ill children and their families. Our programs provide families with the comforts of home –private bedrooms, inviting community spaces, home-cooked meals and a stocked kitchen, a playroom, computer room and laundry facilities – as well as a network of support through interactions with other families, staff and volunteers.
Families with a sick child face immense emotional, physical and financial challenges. Knowing that the Ronald McDonald House of Durham will be there to support them in a safe and caring environment helps to alleviate some these challenges.
Durham Academy's partnership with the Ronald McDonald House spans three divisions and has lasted more than 20 years. First-graders' year-long commitment involves an initial visit in September with a return trip to decorate the facility each December with holiday decorations and supplies. First-graders also collect soda pop tabs, which they recycle to raise funds for the House. Middle School students design luminarias for children during the holiday season, and Upper School students spend a significant number of their community service hours there.
The Durham Rescue Mission is Durham's oldest and largest long-term homeless shelter, providing food, clothing, permanent supportive housing, vocational training, Biblical counseling, job placement, accountability and much more to men, women and children in Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh. Durham Academy second-grade students have collected and donated sets of pajamas for children in need and Middle School students shop for supplies and assemble care packages for Mission residents.
Maureen Joy Charter School is a K-8 public charter school in Durham. Students of color make up 98 percent of the scholars at Maureen Joy. The school demonstrates increased academic strength and is dramatically outperforming other public and charter schools in the area. Durham Academy is invested in the success of Maureen Joy students who are interested in applying and enrolling at an independent school. In 2012, DA began hosting an annual event at Maureen Joy to help families with questions or concerns about DA's application or financial aid process.
Stop Hunger Now is an international hunger relief agency that has been fulfilling its commitment to end hunger for more than 15 years. Since 1998, the organization has coordinated the distribution of food and other lifesaving aid to children and families in countries all over the world.
Stop Hunger Now created its meal packaging program in 2005. The program perfected the assembly process that combines rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a flavoring mix including 21 essential vitamins and minerals into small meal packets. Each meal costs only 29 cents. The food stores easily, has a shelf-life of two years and transports quickly. Stop Hunger Now works with international partners that ship and distribute the meals in-country.
Every year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Durham Academy families gather to assemble and package the meals for distribution all over the world. Over the course of DA's partnership with Stop Hunger Now, approximately 196,000 meals have been packaged to feed the hungry.
WISER is an organization founded at Duke that works to improve the lives of women in the Muhuru Bay area of Kenya. Durham Academy has partnered with WISER since its founding in 2007. Every January, Durham Academy, DA Parents Association and DA's WISER Club host an A Cappella Jam vocal performance event. Vocal groups from Triangle-area high schools and colleges and beyond join DA vocal performance groups XIV Hours and Acapocalypse for a great night of music for a great cause.
Books for every child who needs them: A simple idea. An achievable goal. Book Harvest works to provide a book-rich home environment for Triangle children in need. More than half of low-income children do not own a single book.
DA parent and Book Harvest Director Ginger Young founded the nonprofit organization to help low income children build home libraries of books they have chosen, and in the process, to arrive at kindergarten ready to learn, to combat summer learning loss once they are in school, and to self-identify as readers. Books are a vital tool to help all kids succeed in school and in life.
In its first three years, Book Harvest has worked with the community to collect more than 473,000 new and gently used children's books, distributing them to children in need throughout the Triangle.