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-Steiner, Head of School
Who's got next?
This week, amidst significant curiosity and excitement on campus, we hosted the first pair of finalist candidates for our Upper School Director position (to be vacated by Lee Hark on July 1 as he moves into a fuller-time assignment as DA’s Associate Head of School). Click here to read about Lee’s new role and see our US Director opportunity statement.
In January we’ll host four more finalists – among them DA’s Assistant US Director and Registrar Verle Regnerus and US Dean of Students Lanis Wilson. With more than 100 applicants for the position, these two beloved DA community members have shown courage in entering the race and capacity in challenging semifinalist interviews.
The finalist interviews are as grueling as they are revealing. Over two days, the candidates share their opinions, experiences and aspirations with groups small and large. On the agenda:
- Campus tours with the directors of our Preschool, Lower School and Middle School
- Dinner (for external candidates) with Anne Lloyd (Board Chair), Lee and me.
- 45-minute meetings with the:
- Upper School Academic Committee
- Upper School Lead Class Advisors
- Upper School leadership team
- Upper School faculty (Including a 15-minute presentation and general Q&A)
- Schoolwide administrative team (including directors of admissions, athletics, business services communications, development, diversity and multicultural affairs and technology)
- Upper School Student focus group
- Parent/Trustee/Alumni focus group
- US Director search committee
That search committee has worked for several months to cull candidates and hone our thinking about what DA needs in its next Upper School leader. It’s a strong, collaborative, candid, and discerning group:
- Lindsey Copeland, Upper School Counselor
- Kemi Nonez, Director of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and US Parent
- Lee Hark, Assistant Head of School, Upper School Director and LS/MS Parent
- Xandy Jones, Alumna, Parent of Alumnus and Assistant to the Head of School
- Jaymie Nagar, Parent and parent of alumni
- Rob Policelli, Upper School History Teacher, Lead Class Advisor and PS Parent
- Carolyn Ronco, Lower School Director and Parent of alumni
- Mike Spatola, Upper School History Teacher and Preschool Grandparent
- Michael Ulku-Steiner, Head of School and MS/US Parent
- Lauren Whitehurst, Trustee and Middle School Parent
On behalf of the search committee, I welcome your questions and thank you for your understanding that confidentiality may not allow us to answer every one of them.
I can say this: we entered this process with acute trepidation about the challenge of replacing the esteemed and successful Lee Hark. Nonetheless, we do not seek to hire Lee’s clone. Our next US Director should strive not just to protect the division we have created to date, but rather to build on its traditions and strengthen its faculty, curriculum, and community. We seek the person best positioned to lead the Upper School into the next decade.
Among the things that make me most proud of my own tenure (2003-2008) as DA’s Upper School Director: that I helped find an even better leader to succeed me. Lee wants to do the very same thing, and we are poised to do so this winter.
Choose groups to clone to: