Skip To Main Content

Landing Hero Dark Blue

The DA Graduate: A Mission-Driven Life

Members of the Class of 2023 pose for a photo following Upper School Commencement.

Moral. Happy. Productive. 

Those words are at the heart of Durham Academy’s mission statement — and have been for more than 50 years — because at DA, character matters. More than homework or grades or SAT scores, character is what endures. Our mission to prepare students for moral, happy, productive lives means DA is as committed to developing our students’ moral compass as we are to developing their intellect. Removing any one of the mission statement’s essential, interdependent values would risk toppling the balance, stability and foundation provided by that three-legged stool.

But what does a moral, happy, productive life look like? What do we mean when we use those words? What traits or characteristics are essential to living such a life? This page contains some answers to those questions — Durham Academy’s schoolwide definition of good character. It represents our aspirational articulation of the values we hope to infuse in all our students.


Academic achievement is not an end in itself, but rather a means to our central purpose: the cultivation of virtue.

Michael Ulku-Steiner, Head of School

The Durham Academy Graduate: A Mission-Driven Life is the product of a yearlong conversation among faculty from all 14 grade levels, with input from alumni, parents, staff and trustees. It is a bold constellation of character traits that drives our daily work and sustains our students long past graduation.

Start Your Application

Plan Your Visit to DA

Moral, Happy, Productive: DA Alumni in Action