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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Seeing well beyond 2020

On Monday I spent some time with Durham Academy’s Class of 2020, the 9th graders who are continuing their orientation week now at Green River Preserve. I opened with a simple question:

       Why are you here?

Their answers began with astute cheekiness (“It’s the law.” . . . “My parents made me come”) and moved gradually toward earnestness (“I want to know how the Upper School works.” . . . “I want to go to a good college.” . . . “I’d like to learn all I can.”).

Aiming to push them from external and short-term reasons toward more internal and lasting rationales, I asked each student to answer some questions on an index card – a small “letter to self” that I will return …

Posted by mulkus on Wednesday August 31, 2016
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Dean Bitterman's manifesto for the new school year

Tomorrow we welcome back students of all ages with a series of orientations and open houses. The day is as full of hugs and squeals of delight (as students reunite with long-lost pals and drop in on last year’s teachers) as it is with nervous anticipation. Tuesday we begin our regular academic routines but tomorrow will be a busy, dizzy, happy, sweaty “Welcome Backapalooza.”

Today, on this last day of summer vacation, our new Upper School Director Lanis Wilson sent his YO LA TENGO message to all students in grades 9-12. As Dean of Students, Lanis has done this each Sunday for several years – sharing brief reflections on life and the school week ahead. Click here to see another example – including Lanis’ explanation (especially popular with New York Mets…

Posted by mulkus on Sunday August 21, 2016
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Our Elective: The Mission-Driven Life

DA’s mission compels us to prepare young people for “moral, happy, productive lives.” This fall Associate Head of School Lee Hark and I will team-teach a course that explores the contributing factors, competing theories and necessary interdependence of morality, happiness and productivity.

We will experiment with blended, interdisciplinary and distance learning. A series of guest speakers and field trips will blur the line between Durham and the Academy. We will connect our students – through a series of collaborations - with teenagers in China, Switzerland and Durham Public Schools. I am excited, and a little nervous, to get back into the classroom, see if I still have any pedagogical chops and remind myself daily of the most important function of our institution:…

Posted by Michael Ulku-Steiner on Tuesday August 16, 2016
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Disturbing, hilarious, inspiring; a true friend.

We laughed and cried quite a bit on Sunday afternoon – remembering and celebrating Dave Gould, who died on July 10 after an astoundingly adventurous and meaningful life.

Dave taught, coached, advised, chaired the history department and changed hundreds of lives during a 31-year career at Durham Academy. In 2012, he was the inaugural recipient of the DA Alumni Faculty Legacy Award (click here to see a few photographs of that award ceremony). 

Dave was a dear friend and key mentor of mine for 24 years. At Sunday’s service, I did my best to describe his impact on me and so many DA alumni and families. Click here to read my remarks, which include words from Chris Rosati ‘89, Kathy Cleaver, Emily Glick ‘05, Cristina Tomasi, Chris Rosati ‘89, Kathy Cleaver, …

Posted by mulkus on Tuesday August 2, 2016 at 10:57AM
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