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
Keeping our promises
Judith Ohikuare’s poignant article in yesterday’s edition of The Atlantic will resonate deeply with my DA faculty colleagues.
We began our school year with a screening and discussion of American Promise, the documentary film on which Ohikuare’s article is based.
American Promise follows two African-American boys over twelve years of their experience at New York’s Dalton school. As Ohikuare puts it, “Dalton is a prestigious, decades-old, K-12 prep school on New York City’s Upper East Side that filters its students into the best universities in the country.”
At DA, we hosted the filmmakers of American Promise (who also happen to be the parents of one of the film’s protagonists) for a series of meetings and Q&A sessions with teachers, staff members, and administrators. Conversations have followed at faculty meetings in the Pre, Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools – all as part of our professional development focus on diversity and inclusion - and all part of our broader efforts to make DA a community in which every single student thrives.
Below is an excerpt from Ohikuare. The full article is worth reading – especially for those willing to look squarely at the glories, the flaws, and the remaining opportunities for DA in the realms of diversity and inclusion.
Like all parents, low-to-middle income parents of color can be remarkably demanding of their children. But ensuring their children's success at independent schools requires some leveling of expectations—not by aspiring to less, but by realistically assessing the abilities of individual private schools to nurture their children. It is easy to assume that these schools will be able to provide everything any child might need, and far more difficult to accept that even these impressive places have flaws. Likewise, if independent school administrators want new students to become a real part of the fiber of their old institutions, they must be honest about the culture of their schools, not only when courting students, but when dealing with conflict."
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