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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Durham to DC to Beijing and back

Last week our 7th Graders traveled to our nation’s capital to enjoy an array of monuments, museums and tours - including a behind-the-scenes tour of the Supreme Court (enriched by shooting hoops at the “Highest Court in the Land,” the basketball court located directly over the Supreme Courtroom). Thanks to our 7th Grade team - and particularly to Jim McGivney for his Herculean work in rescheduling the snow-delayed trip.

This weekend, I received the following message from 7th Grade parent David Hoffman – more testimony that DA teachers and parents do all they can to delve beneath the surface with experiential education.

Dear Michael and Jon,

I wanted to share an exciting thing that happened this past week. Betsy Brown and I planned a visit for nine of the 7th graders to the Chinese Embassy in D.C., as part of the small group excursion during the school trip.

The connection with the embassy was made through my company’s office in Beijing. We asked them to focus on Chinese cultural history and its impact on the current economic and political relationship between our two countries.

Very early in the visit, the students asked a number of insightful questions about different Chinese dynasties and their connection to art on display in the embassy. The public affairs officer giving the tour was impressed, and made a point of approaching me mid-way through the tour to say she had never come across American students who had such a deep understanding of China. At the end of the tour, we were asked to wait for a couple of minutes as a special visitor was entering the embassy.

The visitor was Max Baucus, the former US Senator from Montana, and newly appointed US ambassador to China. The public affairs officer disappeared for a moment and then returned with Ambassador Baucus and Cui Tiankai, the Chinese Ambassador to the US.

Both Ambassadors spoke with the students, and Ambassador Baucus mentioned that he had heard that the students have an impressive understanding of China. Yesterday, I received an email from my office in Beijing letting me know how impressed the embassy was with the students, and how it is unheard of for the Chinese ambassador to do such a greeting.

This is a wonderful testament to the 7th grade history curriculum and the tremendous teaching happening at DA Middle School. Elizabeth and I feel incredibly fortunate that Alex is part of the DA community.

Best regards,
Posted by in Middle School on Tuesday February, 25, 2014


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