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
It’s not about where you come from but . . .
Yesterday we hosted about forty student applicants to our Middle and Upper Schools.
As I put myself into the shoes of these visitors (nervous and curious as they confirmed or debunked their previous impressions of Durham Academy), I came across the words of one of our Seniors, quoted last week at our Upper School transition event for families of our current 8th Graders (for whom the Upper School can seem as foreign as it might for any non-DA students):
The Upper School is not about the clothes you wear, the friend group you may or may not belong to, or the braces you may or may not have. It’s about the heart you have, and the passion in it for the will to make a difference in the world – starting with your own life and your own environment. . . it’s not about where you come from but where you choose to go.
Those ideas match nicely with the words of welcome offered by US Director Lee Hark on the Upper School web page. I like these words, for they capture both the tone of our leadership team and the roads that open wide for our students:
Encapsulating our division is a difficult task because the “typical” DA student and teacher simply don't exist. DA Upper School students are interesting — and interested — people. Whether conducting an independent study on 20th century Latino fiction; steering the field hockey team to a state championship; piloting a hovercraft constructed of plywood, duct tape, and a leaf blower (or participating in each of those activities and starring in Oklahoma!), it’s a school where being fully engaged — where striving to be your most authentic self — is not only accepted, it’s expected.
Few of our students know exactly where they are headed in life (and at this age, why should they?), but successful DA students arrive at the Upper School with the drive, the energy, and the commitment to start the journey and willing to meet whatever challenge is put before them. They do so alongside an enthusiastic and dedicated faculty eager to share their love of learning and ready to support our students in whatever way they need.
The Upper School is a remarkable place to work and learn. The very best way to get a sense of who we are, of course, is to visit our vibrant campus and see firsthand what makes this community special. I’ll make sure the hovercraft is gassed and ready.
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