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-Steiner, Head of School
Today is the 16th birthday of Sophie Steiner – among the most painful and meaningful days of this year for me, my family, and many more.
Upper School families may remember my Parents Night comments about Sophie’s passing and the ways in which it inspired me to treasure the glorious here and now of our adolescents. My Carolina blue “We Love Sophie” bracelet reminds me daily of the ways in which she lived – honestly, bravely – giving and receiving love as freely as anyone I’ve encountered. Sophie’s attitude and words (see some of them below) made it easy to take my recent and ridiculous leap into rap infamy.
The Steiners (no relation to us - other than deep friendship; shared family travels in the US, Switzerland, Turkey, and Singapore; and the searing experience of witnessing Sophie's diagnosis, care, and passing) are among the most magnificent people we know. I first encountered Sophie’s mother Lucy in 1988 at UNC and continue to admire her work in school reform. Her father Niklaus, who has taken several DA grads under his wing at the Center for Global Initiatives, joined us as a visiting lecturer at my former school in Switzerland.
Together, despite their grief and along with their broad network of family and friends, Lucy and Niklaus have launched the Be Loud! Sophie Foundation to support adolescent and young adult cancer patients and their families at UNC hospitals. Click here to see the foundation’s brand-new website and here for the Facebook page.
One of Sophie’s poems seems especially appropriate today, with spring on the horizon:
Let your colors show
Have everybody watch
Throw your soul
Let the wind pick it up
Rustle in the leaves
Because you are you
Wade in the water
Put your smile on
And move with grace
Explode with light
Have no fear
See the world
Don't hide away
Because you are you
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