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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So wrong. So right. She writes!

Alumna Sarah Treem '98 is making her DA English teachers proud as she creates some of the most complicated and compelling characters on contemporary stages and screens.

After earning BA and MFA degrees at Yale and writing and fighting her way to prominence in the New York theatrical scene, Treem was among the lead writers for the HBO series In Treatment (starring Gabriel Berne) and the Netflix series House of Cards (starring Kevin Spacey). She continues to write for theater, TV, and film - working now as executive producer for her own Showtime series The Affair.

Click here to see a terrific article about Sarah in Writer magazine. An excerpt:

The best advice I ever got about writing is: Don’t start until you can’t not start. There’s a difference between when something is…
Posted by in Other, Alumni on Monday March 17, 2014
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Collaborate and listen: our new teammate

After a national search and exhaustive series of finalist visits, we are pleased to announce the appointment of Leslie King as our Director of Communications.

In the role, Leslie will collaborate most closely with our Admissions and Development teams – using print, digital, and social media to connect and inform our parents, students, and faculty while telling the Durham Academy story to prospective families and community members.

Leslie earned a BA in English from Connecticut College and an MA in Mass Communication from the University of Florida. Her most formative experiences, however, unfolded at Palmer Trinity, an independent day school in Miami. There, Leslie writes, “I met my oldest friends and mentors: a now-legendary English teacher who commanded respect for grammar and…

Posted by in Other on Monday March 17, 2014
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Evolution and rap

Whether inspired, depressed, or riled by their administrators' foray into the world of rap, several students in Jim Speir's AP United States History course recently dropped their first video single: an imagined lyrical battle between "Darwin and Friends" and "Eliot and Pulitzer." Click here to hear some clever rhymes, learn some key concepts from the turn of the 20th century, and see some epic facial hair.

Posted by in Upper School on Sunday March 16, 2014
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Three things we ought not change

Upper School Technology Coordinator and Computer Science Teacher Julian Cochran shared some on-target ideas from George Couros, who blogs about innovative teaching, learning, and leadership.

 

Read Couros' thoughts here, and see if you think Durham Academy measures up to his big three:

  • Focus on relationships
  • Opportunities outside of the classroom
  • Learning in a respectful environment
Posted by in Upper School on Saturday March 15, 2014
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Literacy heroes

Congratulations to Middle School Language Arts Teacher Patti Donnelly, who joined with her students Noah Cox and Neil Mosca (both current 7th Graders) to write the cover story in the latest issue of the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (JAAL).

JAAL is the International Reading Association's flagship research into teaching journal about adolescent and adult literacies. It has global reach with over 17,000 readers.

Patti's photo of 7th Grader Dylan Jones and his family is on the cover. Dylan is sharing his handmade hero book with his brother Kiran (DA '12) - who is finding out in that moment that he is his younger brother's hero.

Local artist and longtime friend of DA Peg Gignoux, spends time with us each year helping us create the handmade, secret room books.

Look for an article …

Posted by in Middle School on Friday March 14, 2014
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a) improvement, b) hoax, c) addiction, d) all of the above

Good conversations are boiling after the College Board announced the changes slated for the SAT beginning in 2016.

While I am skeptical about the timing of these revisions and unchanged in my belief that a morning-long test can neither capture four years of learning nor predict the success of four more, I do admire College Board President David Coleman and think he's pushing in the right direction.

Below are links to a pair of the better articles I've read about the changes and the motivations behind them. They might change your mind - twice.

Below those links, a summary of the changes in store for our students and millions more.

  1. "SAT Is Part Hoax and Part Fraud," in Time magazine, by Leon Botstein, President of Bard College and Music Director of the American Symphony Orchestra.
  2. "The …
Posted by in Upper School on Thursday March 13, 2014
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Seeing the future, sketchily

Among the greatest joys of my work: hearing updates from alumni who have found their professional passions - perhaps after casting about a bit in middle and high school.

Yesterday a little bird shared some updates from Hollin Norwood, DA class of 1999, working now in San Francisco as a designer for Ariat western wear. In a brief profile on the company's website, Hollin reminds me of the roots of his professional success - in middle and high school art rooms and odd, wonderful, "time-wasting" craft projects at home. Here's Hollin talking about his work designing cowboy boots:

I worked as an artist prior to becoming a designer and have always been obsessed with making things. I love working with my hands – whether it’s drawing, or constructing sculptural elements. Designing …
Posted by in Other, Alumni on Wednesday March 12, 2014
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Living fearless

Today Blue Cross and Blue Shield shared their version of DA alumnus Chris Rosati's Krispy Kreme heist story. It's called "Live Fearless" and worth four minutes of your time.

Click here to see Chris's new website for Inspire MEdia, whose BIGG challenge deadline is less than three weeks away.

Posted by in Other, Alumni on Wednesday March 12, 2014
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Watch, listen, vote, and "Let it Go"

The following message came from 1st Grade Teacher/Filmmaker Rosemary Nye (just as our weather was turning from frozen to springy):

Are you feeling "frozen" after braving the sleet and the rain? Wishing Mother Nature would just "let go" of all this crummy weather? Well, why not take a few minutes to check out Ryan Seacrest's #Let It Go Best Cover March Madness Contest? You'll find that our very own Elizabeth South has made it into the Top 25. To stay in the running, she needs our votes. Check out her cover of this Oscar winning song, and cast your vote(s) to keep her in the competition.

Click here for: Ryan Seacrest March Madness Contest

Click here for: ELizabeth South's "Let It Go" Video

Posted by in Other on Sunday March 9, 2014 at 01:00AM
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Kings of Spring

Yesterday, DA alumnus Jon Enberg ‘98 (former Duke lacrosse Captain and Army Ranger and recent graduate of Harvard Business School) spoke to our Middle Schoolers about character, sacrifice, and service.

As the skies cleared later that afternoon, the DA lacrosse team was helping to kick off the 5th annual King of the Spring Face-Off Classic. Durham Academy plays host to nearly 30 of the nation's top high school lacrosse teams from March 7 and 10.

The tournament aims to raise awareness of Lead The Way Fund, a nonprofit that supports disabled U.S. Army Rangers and the families of Rangers who perished, were injured or are serving in harm's way.The focus on Lead The Way Fund honors Jimmy Regan, a former Duke University lacrosse player who was killed in action in 2007 as an Army Ranger …

Posted by in Middle School, Alumni on Saturday March 8, 2014
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