In order to be aware of and sensitive to the feelings of others, we first need proximity. Whether helping elementary school students learn to read, working at a homeless shelter’s food pantry, creating a more home-like environment for Ronald McDonald House residents, or hosting a free summer camp for children who might not otherwise have such an opportunity, Durham Academy students and faculty are committed to community partnerships and making a difference in the lives of others.
Durham Academy Preschoolers learn to approach the world with genuine kindness by giving one of life’s dearest gifts — time. In fall 2014, DA’s youngest students met a group of senior citizens living in a retirement community just across the street from campus. What began as student visits for Halloween and Valentine’s Day blossomed into a special bond with neighbors they’ve come to call friends, with an annual spring fling, regular senior classroom visits for reading, drama performances and concerts by musicians young and old.
At DA, we cultivate and celebrate the inner voice that guides us to do the right thing. Integrity extends from the classroom to the athletic field — whether students are on campus or off. From seminars to summer reading, story time to school plays, we foster integrity through regular discussions about social justice, compassion, friendship, honesty and values. Entire assemblies are dedicated to recognizing outstanding character in students, faculty and staff who are compassionate, capable and courageous.
In third grade, students spend the year as social entrepreneurs, learning about real-world responsibility. They create crafts to provide inventory for a pop-up store open to classmates, faculty and parents. The storefront, staffed by third-graders, generates thousands of dollars for a sea turtle rescue center. Students end the year with a field trip to the center to present the funds and meet in person the gentle giants they have studied in class.
Dr. Billy Fischer ’94 epitomizes courage in action. In 2014, he was one of the first doctors on the front lines of the world’s largest and deadliest Ebola outbreak to date. Fischer draws a direct line from his work fighting the virus and trying to find a cure to his DA high school physics class and a teacher who inspired him to lead a life of purpose. He credits that class as the launchpad for his career in medicine.