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Growing & Thriving          

          for Life

Middle School students chat with each other as they walk through the Middle School campus.

About DA

Durham Academy’s roots trace back to 1933 and a mom who wanted a life-changing educational experience for her children.

In her search for the ideal, Ann McCulloch Hill turned to the teaching and learning environment she knew best — her own. Baltimore’s Calvert School was renowned for its rigorous curriculum, talented and dedicated teachers, a student-driven learning experience, self-expression through writing, assemblies where children built poise and self-confidence, recreational activities, and an intentional appreciation of the arts, all while having fun. Calvert’s first headmaster believed that the purpose of education was "not only to get a living, but also to make life worth living."

Fortunately for Ann and her husband, George Watts Hill, their timing was perfect. Twenty-five years earlier Calvert School had started exporting its wildly successful “curriculum in a box” to American expats, diplomats and military service members stationed overseas so that their children could keep up with their studies. The Hills established Durham Academy’s predecessor, Calvert Method School, with many of the cherished traditions and student-centered approaches that Ann recalled so fondly. Ninety years later, many of the moral, happy, productive roots of our mission are still visible in the Durham Academy of today — a life-changing educational experience that will prepare your child to be happy and successful in the real world. With teachers who truly know your child and challenge them to be their best selves, offering plenty of support along the way.

You want that for your child, too. We're glad you're here.


Students, Pre-K to Grade 12


Student-Teacher Ratio


of Full-Time Faculty Hold Advanced Degrees


Students of Color


State-of-the-Art Campuses, Housing 4 School Divisions

Do you think Durham Academy could be a good fit for your family? We'd love to have you on campus so you can see for yourself! 

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I have spent more than two decades as a member of the Durham Academy community — including as a teacher, advisor, coach, administrator and now parent of alumni — and my family and I returned twice to DA after stints overseas. Why? There are three ways of being here that led my family to return:

  1. At Durham Academy, we play the long game. Our barometer of success is not an end-of-year assessment, but an adult life that is moral, happy and productive. If you come to our senior commencement in May, you will see a line of Preschool and Lower School teachers clapping furiously, celebrating the students they taught a decade ago.
  2. We focus on the whole child, and we're able to put legs behind that assertion because of our size, scope and resources. It’s not just about students' academic and intellectual development — it’s their athletic development, aesthetic development, development as citizens, neighbors and relationship-builders.
  3. We are chasing excellence. We are actually going after it. That doesn’t mean that we want to be perfect — we are so far from it, we miss the mark all the time because we are humans. But the goal is incremental progress over time. A little bit better every day. And the long game allows that to be real. 

My children are two very different people, two different learners who loved different things over time, and we knew that if they were to enroll here, no matter the path they took, there would be excellence waiting for them. That’s what I’ve seen over 20 years of watching thousands of kids, including my own, here at Durham Academy — they find what they care about, they chase it with vigor, and adults who care deeply for them are by their side, providing support every step of the way. 

Michael Ulku-Steiner
Head of School

Our Mission & Values

What do we mean by the words at the heart of our mission statement — "moral, happy and productive lives"? We mean choices informed by empathy and wisdom, and driven by the pursuit of joy and courage. We mean lives measured by resilience, integrity and kindness. Our goal is to equip our students for lives in which they are known as kind, responsible, curious, driven members of their communities.

At Durham Academy, we don't just hang our mission statement on a wall to collect dust. We live it every day. Our mission is woven into every school day, for every single student. More than academic accolades, character endures.

Our Values: The DA GraduateOur MissionOur Foundation: Diversity, Equity and Engagement

Where We're Going

Our work is compelled by the four tenets of the Durham Academy Strategic Vision:

  • Prepare our students for life.
  • Meet the needs of our learners.
  • Innovate more boldly.
  • Broaden and deepen our work with Diversity, Equity and Engagement.

Explore Our Strategic Vision

Southern Association of Independent Schools
National Association of Independent Schools
Global Online Academy Proud Member
North Carolina Association of Independent Schools