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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Luca's Crossing

It has been nearly thirty months since the passing of 21 year-old Luca Harrell, Durham Academy alumnus '10 and the son of longtime DA teachers Daniela (now in our Middle School) and Steve (now at St. David's in Raleigh).

While time moves forward, Luca’s family – like many of his teachers and friends - grieves him every day.

As you can see in Luca’s obituary, he was deeply touched by the child development centers and self-sustainable development projects he visited in Kenya with his family during the summer of 2012. In lieu of flowers at Luca’s funeral, his family invited donations to Africa Exchange and its programs in the Masai Mara.

Yesterday Daniela shared with me a remarkable blog post – written by her sister-in-law Melody and dedicated to the memory of her beloved nephew. Click here to see the full post, complete with a series of gorgeous pictures.

Here is Melody’s poem – a tribute to lives well lived and bridges built over daunting rivers.


There is a footbridge

arching over the Talek River

That will literally bring life to the communities on both sides.

Walking across a bridge

to take your baby to the doctor on the other side

Is far preferable to forging the waters

of the gorged and rushing river beneath,

Your baby strapped to your back.

The arching bridge means kids can get to school to learn

and not have to wonder if the getting there will include

encounters with water dwelling creatures

of the likes of hippos and crocodiles;

Pretty ominous considerations to have to make

When you’re 8 years old.

While the arching bridge evokes affirmation,

Just by the nature of what it offers,

This particular bridge is more than that.

So much more.

It’s been christened “Luca’s Crossing”

And represents the actual arching of a life.

Luca was young, handsome, artistic and smart.

The “Italian Stallion”,

Nicknamed because of his heritage and dark haired good looks.

Luca was full of potential and promise.

Both for himself and for those who knew and loved him.

The loss of his life among us is tangible still,

Something we feel every day.

With the building of this bridge,

A flicker of light is born.

The arch of Luca’s life is remembered and

The influence of his personhood is felt.

The truth is that he was made of a lot of goodness

And that goodness is now extended for others.

Others who have never and will never know him.

But who will benefit from his having lived on this earth.

Benefit in real ways, not just hypothetically.

I’m grateful that the arching of Luca’s Crossing

Celebrates who he was

And at the same time

Makes a way to the other side.

Posted by mulkus on Tuesday March, 29, 2016 at 08:44PM


Thank you for sharing this most inspiring and brave gesture. Luca lives on.
from Mary Norkus on 03/31/16 at 12:28PM
Luca's Crossing creates a practical legacy of safety, gratitude, and ease of passage for all who walk across this bridge__a wonderful tribute to Luca's life.  
from Jenny Hubert on 04/17/16 at 11:46AM
beautiful poem
from Arthur Rogers on 09/05/16 at 09:11PM
What a beautiful act of connection for the people in the Masai Mara and for all of us who loved and remember Luca.
from Anne Gregory-Bepler on 09/05/16 at 11:09PM

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