Since starting his eighth-grade elective course, STEAM by Design, in 2017, Karl Schaefer has presented his students with opportunities to explore cutting-edge technology in innovative ways. More importantly, though, he’s taught important life lessons.
It will be really exciting to witness the directions in which the students take this new model of student government. If the polished, substantive and engaging election speeches are any indication, we are certainly bound for some great achievements.
Salad on the floor, beef stew on bus seats, grease-stained shirts, torn paper flower decorations — these were some of the messes made by the seventh-grade class as they planned, shopped for, cooked and served a meal for 250 people in the community café at Urban Ministries of Durham.
Since my arrival on July 2, my primary goal has been to listen and learn. Because much of my work happens with students, faculty and administrators, we are in constant communication about what I’m hearing and discovering about DA.
Integrity. It is a value we uphold. We want our family, friends, teachers, students, coaches, leaders to act with integrity. Integrity means being honest, moral, decent, fair. Because the word comes from the Latin integer, integrity also means being whole, consistent, true to values, true to self.
Some of the most rewarding moments in my day are revealed when a student takes something that exists, an idea or a curious question and creates something new. That perspective may not show up on a pencil-and-paper test, a timed test, or an assignment in which he or she is momentarily demonstrating proficiency.
The concept of kindness is one that I have enjoyed contemplating throughout my personal and professional life, particularly with my students and advisees. Kindness is woven into many behaviors, actions and thoughts. A large portion of the humane side of being human is rooted in kindness.
As a community of learners (filled with and devoted to them), Durham Academy craves candid feedback and relies on open dialogue. Only by testing our assumptions and gathering opinions from the widest possible range of constituents can we know what we do well, what we can improve and what new ideas we ought to consider.
This morning, three students stood before nearly 500 of their peers and teachers in Kenan Auditorium and delivered their personal mission statements.
Engagement is a complex concept — it means a lot of things to a lot of different people. For me, it’s not defined by a single act or mission but instead represents a myriad of my experiences and interests.
For reasons that stretch back to the 1905 arrival of my immigrant grandparents in Pennsylvania to the peaceful, prosperous present in which I’ve been lucky to live and raise my children, I feel immense gratitude to be an American.
While the massive steel beams of our new Upper School STEM + Humanities Center are the most conspicuous things on campus these days, I’m grateful that our students, alumni and parents never forget what really makes DA strong.
This morning my colleagues in the Preschool and Lower School hosted an Open House for families considering applications to Durham Academy. Similar events — in all divisions — will follow in the coming weeks.
Personally, I feel that joy can coexist with imperfection. My experience at Durham Academy is a reflection of this belief. Like any other community, DA has its flaws. What brings me joy is all of the opportunities we have to improve ourselves and the community we’re a part of.
A friend and former colleague often repeated a nugget of advice that proves equally helpful when leading a school, building a barn, raising a child or living an ethical life. “The main thing,” he used to say, “is keeping the main thing the main thing.” What is the “main thing” at Durham Academy?