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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Standing in the Hall of Fame

Rob Hershey

Headmaster from 1978-1988 and responsible for leading the growth of the athletic program through some of its beginning years in hiring, funding and work within the newly formed state athletic association.

Rick Dike

Athletic Director from 1981-1991. Responsible for growing the number of teams offered and leading the program in its early years in the NCISAA. Worked as a successful track coach until 2013, years after his retirement.

Dennis Cullen

Track and Cross Country coach at DA since 1976. One of the most respected and successful high school track and cross country coaches in North Carolina. Has won 39 state championships in boys and girls track and cross country.

Katie O’Connor '95

All-State and All-American basketball player as well as an outstanding field …

Posted by in Upper School, Other, Alumni on Monday October 21, 2013
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Strengthening our administrative team

After consultation with the Board of Trustees, my administrative teammates, and a number of parents and faculty, I have invited Kemi Nonez (DA's Director of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and Admissions Counselor) to join our administrative team. Kemi has accepted the invitation and looks forward to joining our weekly conversations.

Given our longstanding institutional commitment to diversity, it makes good sense to have the Director of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs on the school's central management team.

On a personal level, we are exceedingly pleased that Kemi is willing to take on this additional work. In more than a decade as a DA parent and colleague, she has earned broad respect for her professionalism, diplomacy, energy, and positive spirit.

Our administrative team …

Posted by in Other on Monday October 21, 2013
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Security - strategy and spirit

Dear Parents,

Today’s events in Nevada remind us all that safety is and will remain our first priority at Durham Academy. We hope to stretch the intellects and strengthen the character of all our students. Our first responsibility, however, is to deliver them safe and healthy to you at the end of each day.

Small classes, open dialogue with parents, active advisory groups, daily tutorial periods, and an experienced faculty (many of whom are DA parents ourselves) – all these contribute to our ethos of attention, safety, and care.

Safety begins with a spirit of inclusion and community. My blog post on September 27 (“Walking to Safety”) is relevant again today. Click here to see those thoughts from me and Lee Hark, Upper School Director and Assistant Head of School.

Posted by in Other on Monday October 21, 2013
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Whether the weather be cold. . .

If only every day could be like this sunny Sunday! Knowing that the winds will change, I’m glad to see that our students can now gather, record, and manipulate data from our newly-installed Durham Academy Weather Station.

Here’s more from DA Parent/Science Teacher/Parents Council President Demetra Kontos:


The digital weather station was made possible by the efforts of Lower School Science Teacher Lyn Streck and DA Grandparent Dr. Peter Travers (Beata ’23), who submitted a Wish List request for the station that was granted by the 2012-13 Parents Association. This fall, the outdoor digital monitor complete with anemometer, barometer, thermometer, and rain gage was mounted by Head Groundsman Chad MacKenzie at the rear of the Lower School near the LS Giving Garden. Now …
Posted by in Lower School, Other on Sunday October 20, 2013
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Cycling English teacher pleads and rides for safer habitats

In Monday's Upper School Morning Meeting, English Department Chair Jordan Adair spoke from deep experience about the need for courtesy and caution among teenage drivers. After sharing a few harrowing stories and a pair of videos (this clever British TV ad for motorist awareness and this plea for safety from professional cyclists), he announced that he aims to ride 100 miles next Saturday in support of Habitat for Humanity. Click here to find out more about the Habitat Halloween Ride.

Those who prefer donating to pedaling can send $5, $10, $20 or more to Jordan in cash or a check made out to "Habitat of Durham.” Last year he was able to raise over $1,000 for the cause, bolstering the work of our Upper School student Habitat for Humanity club, led by Emma Eason, Slater Daniels, and …

Posted by in Upper School, Other on Saturday October 19, 2013
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Ameraucana chicks and brotherly love

Last night I received the following email from 7th Grader Joseph Walston.


My sister, Felicity, (a 10th grader at DA) won the Cavalier award in 8th grade. As the prize, she received the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. After reading the book, she became interested in knowing where her food comes from.

After researching, she thought it would be fun to have chickens which could help produce eggs for her family. Over the summer, Felicity drew up plans for a coop and pen, wrote letters informing the neighbors of her plan of getting chickens, obtained a chicken permit from the City of Durham, and recently built the coop and pen.

Now my sister has three Ameraucana chickens that are about 5 weeks old named Pepper, Ulu and Penny. She has been selected to be part of the …
Posted by in Middle School, Upper School, Other on Friday October 18, 2013
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The myth and the message of the over-scheduled child

In DA's Middle and Upper Schools alone, we offer 46 athletic teams and 89 extracurricular clubs. Throw in a dozen options in the performing arts and the scores of outside activities available to our students, and you have . . . . well . . . what? Either a rich variety of engaging opportunities or the potential for overscheduled children. How can students and parents find the healthiest, happiest balance?

In this poignant article in yesterday's New York Times, Bruce Feiler asserts that we CAN, in fact find the appropriate path between too few and too many extracurricular activities. They key, he argues, has nothing to do with calendars, carpools, or the themselves. Click here to see his advice for parents.

Posted by in Other on Wednesday October 16, 2013
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Cujo, Aspen, and our defenseless children

I learned this week that DA has a clear policy prohibiting pets on campus. My ignorance is shared by others, apparently, as we often have dogs around our sports fields and sidewalks. We clearly need to do a better job of communicating our expectations. Expect some new signage in the near future and some friendly reminders from our faculty and security guards.

We love your dogs but ask that you keep them at home or in your cars (with windows down). Why?

  • While most dogs are gentle and most owners responsible, we have had a few scary incidents with dogs off their leashes.
  • Some of our younger students are afraid of dogs.
  • Some of our students and parents are allergic to dogs.
  • While most owners are fastidious about cleaning pet waste, some are not. Hygiene and aesthetics both matter on …
Posted by in Other on Wednesday October 16, 2013
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A school full of bad people? I choose no.

The essay below is from the blog of John Chubb, President of the National Association of Independent Schools. Click here to see his bio and here to see his blog, with recent entries titled:

  • Great leaders, great teachers
  • Two visions of teachers and technology: on which would you bet?
  • Promoting equity: state by state, school by school
  • The new transparency
  • Measuring what matters: student engagement

Slate, the online public affairs magazine, recently published a blog by one of their managing editors, Allison Benedikt, entitled, "If You Send Your Child to a Private School, You’re a Bad Person."The blog has drawn over 7,000 comments, received 61,000 "likes" (that's scary) and has been given air time on MSNBC.


For those who haven't read it, Benedikt does not mean private school …
Posted by in Other on Tuesday October 15, 2013
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Our chance to see the fabulous Fogelmans in action

Next Saturday at the Orange County Speedway, 8th Grader Tate Fogelman will race in the Pro All Star Series (PASS) Orange Blossom Special. Tate is the youngest racer on the circuit, competing against adults from across the south. His father Jay is the defending PASS champion. Tate finished 10th at the Southern Nationals in August and looks forward to a good race on his home track this weekend.

Click here to see the Facebook page for Tate Fogelman Racing.

Click here to see a profile of the Fogelmans in the Portland Press Herald.

Click here to read about Tate Fogleman in The Record.

More about Tate and the Orange Blossom Special from proallstarseries.com:

CHARLOTTE, NC (October 8) – After a long season for fans and competitors that began back in March, the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) …

Posted by in Middle School, Other on Monday October 14, 2013
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