Chemistry teacher Kari Newman believes science is about not just acquiring knowledge, but sparking curiosity. Newman models an inquisitive and innovative approach every day, experimenting with new ways to engage students around complex concepts and then helping them apply those lessons to the real world. The White House recognized Newman for teaching excellence in 2016, awarding her the highest commendation bestowed by the U.S. government on K-12 science teachers.
There is no substitute for the lived experience of a seminal event in history. In May one of the Cavalier Capstones follows in the footsteps of civil rights pioneers and meeting with activists, traveling to landmark destinations in Greensboro, Atlanta, Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery. Upper School students honor Durham’s Greatest Generation through a course that examines literary and artistic responses to war. Veterans visit the class to share their stories, and students are paired with WWII veterans to preserve their oral histories.
The Middle School’s unofficial motto is “Be kind. Be responsible. Be your best self.” The annual eighth grade celebration recognizes every student’s unique, best self. The entire eighth grade class is honored and their transition to high school is marked by heartfelt tributes from teachers and classmates. After the ceremony, eighth-graders exit through a tunnel of applause, receiving personalized keepsake letters from teachers that trace their individual accomplishments over the past four years.
The annual all-school pep rally kicks off homecoming weekend, and every student ages 4 to 18 packs the gym with pom-poms to raise the roof with school spirit. For more than 30 years, Upper School students and faculty have channeled that school spirit toward a purpose — organizing, hosting and running Durham County’s Special Olympics Spring Games. Students are paired with more than 400 athletes to help them compete and enjoy the day.
Life is a balancing act. DA’s Wellness Committee supports parents and students with resources for mental and physical health and well-being. By providing experts, health fairs, film screenings, workshops and assemblies, parents and students can learn about everything from mindfulness to social media. Morning meetings in the Preschool and Lower School and advisory periods in the Middle and Upper School provide smaller-scale environments for age-appropriate conversations about social and emotional topics.