Heads Up

Welcome to Heads Up, a blogging experiment that aims to: 

  • connect the people, parts, and principles of Durham Academy;
  • share ideas about learning and human development;
  • spotlight a few of the many wondrous things I get to see every day at Durham Academy. 

Thanks for reading the posts below — and sending news, links and ideas worth sharing. 

Michael Ulku-SteinerHead of School 

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Scream and shoot

The decibel meter was into the red zone at the Middle School Winter Sports Pep Rally and Student-Faculty Basketball Game. We wily vets prevailed 18-13, but the crowd (and most of the highlights) were on the side of our energetic students. Click here to see the video of today's game.

No highlight could possibly top "The Shot" by PE Teacher Susan Ellis in 2012. Fans are still talking about Cha'Mia Rothwell (then an 8th Grader, now a starter on the girls varsity team) hitting a closely-guarded, go-ahead, off-the-board three-pointer with seconds left on the clock. Unfazed, Mrs. Ellis calmly drained a buzzer-beating, game-winning half-court shot. Click here to see that stunning finale.

Thanks to Karl Schaefer for both videos, and to the MS Student Council for a rousing finale to our snowy week.

Posted by in Middle School, Other on Friday January 31, 2014
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Donut Robin Hood returns

Tonight on the CBS Evening News (and again on Sunday Morning), DA alumnus Chris Rosati '89 will strike again.

In Chris, "On The Road" host Steve Hartman has found an able partner for finding and sharing uplifting stories.

I thought of Chris when I read the New York Times' inspiring article about Pete Seeger. It concludes:

Through the years, Mr. Seeger remained determinedly optimistic. “The key to the future of the world,” he said in 1994, “is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.”

To see Chris's next project, click here.

To see CBS's earlier piece on Chris's Krispy Kreme caper, click here.

To see one of my earlier posts about Chris's visits to the Upper School, click here.

Posted by in Other, Alumni on Friday January 31, 2014
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Guilt, snow, and lifelong book learning

As were many of our students, part of me was relieved about yesterday's snow day, as I hadn't done my homework.

Last night, Lee Hark was scheduled to lead DA's first-ever Alumni Book Club meeting at the home of alumna/trustee Jamie Spatola '00.

Jamie (a voracious learner who has written two books with her father and now writes for Mental Floss - click here to see a fun example) dreamed up the Book Club as a way to stir good conversations among our local alumni.

I keenly looked forward to the event but - amidst a busy few weeks at school - had failed to read the book.

Tension (along with trash-talking from Lee and Jamie) mounted as Wednesday neared. Should I lamely bail out? Should I read a few reviews online and fake it at the Book Club? Should I do as Alumni Board President Garret Putman …

Posted by in Alumni on Thursday January 30, 2014
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Hormone soup or hyperrational distortion?

Lisa Brown (parent of two DA Middle Schoolers) shared an interesting article from The Atlantic. In it, Daniel Siegel makes a convincing case that the teenage brain is neither immature nor fogged by hormones. Dopamine is the lens through which we can see adolescent attitudes and behaviors more clearly.

Click here to see the full article, or below for the concluding paragraphs:

Why should this matter to us, whether we are teens, in our twenties, or older? It matters because if we see the adolescent period as just a time to wade through, a time to endure, we’ll miss out on taking very important steps to optimize the essence of adolescence. When we see our emotional spark, our social engagement, our novelty seeking, and our creative explorations as positive and necessary core aspects…
Posted by in Middle School on Wednesday January 29, 2014
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Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these students from the swift completion of their appointed studies.

As flurries near the Triangle, I feel the pressure mounting from student lobbyists. Some students, like the one pictured above, are willing to brave blizzards to take their math quizzes.

We continue to monitor the radar images and weather forecasts for the Triangle, where snowfalls could range from 0 to 6 inches. We'll communicate a decision regarding today's schedule by 11:00 am.

Title adapted from the inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City. Photo from Upper School Math Teacher Amy Knowles. Student's name withheld, pending approval from his modeling agent and the Snuggie Corporation.

Posted by in Upper School on Tuesday January 28, 2014
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KPOTUS meets the FFGE

Lower School Teacher Debbie Suggs (leader of the Fabulous First Grade Explorers) shared the latest video from Kid President - advice for a newborn nephew as he enters the world. Mrs. Suggs' favorite passage (fitting for her classroom environment):

It's not about what you do. It's about who you are. You..you're awesome! You're made that way. You're made from love, to be love, to spread love. Love is always louder…no matter what. Even if hate has a bullhorn, love is louder. So let your life be loud. Let's shout to the world. THINGS CAN BE BETTER!
Posted by in Lower School on Monday January 27, 2014
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When is paper stronger than steel?

AP Physics teacher Lou Parry shared a terrific video - the semester exam project of seniors Ambika Viswanathan and Jackson Few.
Click here to see their 3-minute video demonstrating the force of friction between two phone books - strong enough to snap metal . . . and earn them a decent grade on the exam and a compelling entry into the James Madison University physics contest.
Posted by in Upper School on Saturday January 25, 2014
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Grateful and greatness

Though it feels more appropriate to thank them for welcoming so many DA students, parents, and teachers to share an emotional moment in their lives, the McCain family asked to share the following note with our community:

The McCain family would like to express their deepest gratitude and appreciation for all those many acts of kindness, messages of sympathy and thoughtful gestures that have been bestowed upon us during this difficult time. We especially want to thank the administration for making it possible for the staff and students to be with us at the memorial. Your support was greatly appreciated and comforting.


Wendell, Lori, Davis & Charles

Click here to see my earlier post about the passing of DA grandparent and Civil Rights leader Franklin McCain.
Posted by in Other on Friday January 24, 2014
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Son shining

In case you need more encouragement to attend Saturday night's A Capella Jam (see my post below), check out this video of two Lowell Oakleys (father and son) singing "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone" at the January 11th concert of In the Pocket.

See you Saturday at 7:00 at the Carolina Theater for more moments like that one.

Posted by in Other on Thursday January 23, 2014
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Saturday night fever - for a great cause

Saturday 1/23/2014 at 7:00 at Durham's Carolina Theater, Upper School Music Teacher Michael Meyer led DA's a capella groups XIV Hours and Acapocalypse onto the stage. They were joined by some of the area's best youth and adult a capella ensembles:

  • Durham School of the Arts Sweet N Low
  • Northwood High School Pitch Please
  • Duke Pitchforks
  • UNC Tar Heel Voices
  • UNC Loreleis
  • Cognitive Resonance (an adult semi-professional group)

Proceeds to benefit WISER (the Women's Institute for Secondary Education and Research), a girls boarding school in Mujuru Bay, Kenya - partnered with DA since its founding in 2007. DA alumnus Kelly Teagarden '04 founded the DA WISER chapter, which is now led by Constance Leder, Chandler Knott, Jordan Townsend and Mimi Patterson.

Click here to learn more about …

Posted by in Upper School, Other on Thursday January 23, 2014
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