Welcome to DA

Michael Ulku-Steiner welcoming students

I have spent more than two decades as a member of this community — in various roles including teacher, advisor, coach, administrator, Head of School, weather prognosticator, parent and now parent of alumni. My family and I have returned twice to DA after stints overseas. Among the reasons we love this school: 

  • Durham Academy attracts, supports, and empowers the strongest faculty possible — creative, caring, generous professionals who strive to change lives, not just raise test scores or open doors to universities. Our mission compels us to prepare students for "moral, happy, productive lives."
  • Students here can be their most unique and best selves. We like "weird." We expect students to chase passions in many directions. In the words of one senior during his exit interview: "Whatever you want to do, DA has the people and the programs to help you do it."
  • Ours is a community of strivers — families dedicated to learning, teachers passionate about their fields of study, students eager to throw themselves into their classes. Some schools aim at “rigor.” We prefer vigor — the energy that grows from people chasing bigger ideas, better solutions and their best selves.
  • We connect. DA values and prioritizes relationships — among students, between teachers and students, and in the network of varied families who entrust their children to us every day. With similar commitment, we connect with Durham and the broader community in ways that reflect our interdependence.

A website welcome message can only scratch the surface of the DA experience. What is it really like to live and learn in this community? Watch through the eyes of Preschool Director Christian Hairston-Randleman — who describes how DA prioritized safety, joy and a fostering a love of learning as the school brought back students in the midst of the pandemic — below.

Read my Twitter feed, visit the DA Newsroom, or take a deeper dive into DA's past, present and future through our biannual magazine.

The best way to know DA? Come visit. We hope to meet you in person soon and look forward to sharing our remarkable school community with you. 


Michael Ulku-Steiner
Head of School