Parents Association & Parents Council
The Durham Academy Parents Association supports the school's academic, social, fine arts and athletic objectives. Parents Association encourages volunteerism, raises and disperses funds, promotes communication and cooperation, and provides input to the school on issues of concern and interest to parents. All Durham Academy parents are members of the Parents Association.
The Durham Academy Parents Council is the governing board of the Parents Association. This group comprises members of an executive committee; division representatives; members of schoolwide committees on matters such as diversity, wellness and athletics; and parents who organize both community-building and fundraising events. See a list of the parents who serve on Parents Council.
Parents Bulletin Board
Creativity and communication skills come into play when Ben Swain '94 challenges “we’ve always done it this way” thoughts — whether it’s helping to build a tool that saves a patient money on MRI scans in his job at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina or making fans laugh about sports rather than shouting about who’s a better basketball coach via his blog, FM radio show or Twitter feed.
Q: What was your life like at Durham Academy?
A: During my high school days at Durham Academy I spent most of my time competing on the baseball field or basketball court, managing the sports desk for the Green & White, serving as the assistant coach for the eighth-grade basketball team and dreaming up innovative ways to fit four hours of homework into a single hour so I could spend more time doing the things I’d rather be doing instead.
Q: What’s your day job like?
A: I’ve even carved out a career for myself thanks to my “get my work done in one hour instead of four” skill set, which I’ve since learned is called “Operational Excellence” and “Continuous Improvement.” As a business process consultant for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, I drive the activation arm for our organization’s mission to transform health care in our country by establishing our state as a model for others.
My work helps to make it possible for the organization to operationally deliver innovation to provide our customers with the best experience at the lowest cost. It’s beyond humbling to be trusted with the opportunity to ask challenging questions of a century-old establishment for the purpose of finding a better way to make health care accessible and affordable for all. But it’s an opportunity that’s in no way uncomfortable because of my experience through the years at Durham Academy.
Q: What are your interests away from work?
A: As I take inventory of how I spend my time these days, I’m realizing that things haven’t changed all that much. My two sons are fortunate enough to be members of the Durham Academy family, growing up as classmates and friends with the children of my own friends and classmates from my DA years. Both of them play travel hockey for the Junior Hurricanes so when I’m not working, you’ll find me at a rink somewhere watching games or practices. I co-host a weekly FM sports radio show [Sports Channel 8] and have covered Duke basketball and the ACC basketball tournament for the past six seasons. I made my return to the DA sidelines this past spring, coaching the girls’ Middle School soccer team (and yes, we rode the exact same bus as my teams did back when I was a student).
Q: What DA experiences influenced you or helped you get where you are today?
A: What I remember most of DA is “just because it’s always been that way” was never the answer to any question we asked our teachers, and it was never accepted as an answer that we might give to others. DA taught me that what you do isn’t nearly as important as why you do it. If you know your values and you stay true to those values, everything feels familiar and change is more exciting than it is intimidating.
I guess when I think back, the biggest advantage I gained from DA is that I learned who I am, and I was surrounded by people who encouraged me to be true to those values. They always say that school prepares you for what you become, but when I really think about what I do professionally and in my free time, it was more that Durham Academy encouraged and reinforced what I already was. I get to use my creativity and communication skills every day to challenge those “we’ve always done it this way” thoughts, whether it’s something important like helping to build a tool that saves a patient money on MRI scans or something fun like making fans laugh about sports rather than shouting about who’s a better basketball coach.
So maybe the reason things haven’t changed much for me is that I’m still living out those lessons I learned at Durham Academy. It’s just on a much larger stage … no offense to the Green & White, or to those DA students who are still searching for the best way to get their homework done.Follow Swain on Twitter at @TheBenSwain, and read/listen to some of his work on Sports Channel 8 and WRAL Sports Fan.