In full disclosure I can't really rate DA on my kids having attended since they were both declined. So my review is through that lens and only of the admissions staff. It would be best if your child could attend in kindergarten because after that your chances are very slim. I was pretty much assured that many aspects are looked at when considering students, it isn't. Basically you will score "in or out" based on your ISEE score. If your child is WELL above average and scores well on standardized tests I say go ahead and apply. If they are average or slightly above don't waste your time or get your kids hopes up. The school is great I'm sure but get in when ISEE testing doesn't matter like before 2nd grade. Oh and if the admissions staff tells you not to worry then worry.
Our daughter has attended DA since Pre-K, and will be in the 3rd grade this fall. The teachers are amazing - we have been blessed each year to be placed with the perfect match for our child - someone who is warm, loving and encourages her to open up and be the best that she can be, and who also challenges her academically. She entered DA as a shy child who has blossomed into the girl on the front row behind the mike at SongFest. The computer lab since K has caused her to be more familiar with a computer than I was in law school. She loves her school, her teachers, and her friends. This is a true community, and a family, not just a school. Yet, as a school, it is the best around by far! Academics are stressed, but so are the arts, sports, and especially character development. Parental involvement is greatly encouraged.
DA's outdoor campus makes it one of the most special school environments that I have ever seen. It is such a great place to not only learn, but to make friends, play sports, and just interact with all members of the DA community. Everyone is very accepting of new students and tries to get them involved with everyone. Not only are the teachers great and smart, but so are the students. There are very few students here that aren't above average or higher in terms of intellectual prowess. It's college placement of seniors speaks for itself. Overall, it is an incredible place to be.
As a DA alumni, my appreciation for my experience at Durham Academy grows more as tome goes on. DA provided me with the most academically challenging experience of my life. DA taught me how to think critically and understand my strongest learning modalities (and how to capitalize on them). I have since gone on to get a Bachelors and Masters degree, and never once did I feel as challenged in my post-secondary education as I did at DA. I am a teacher now, and looking back, with my insider's perspective on education, this school completely astounds me. The passion of the teachers, the focus on critical thinking, the development of writing skills, and the expeditionary learning are simply unparalleled. I still keep in touch with many of my wonderful teachers, who I am thankful to have as mentors still today!
I am a student at Durham Academy currently in the Middle School. I think it's a really good school. The teachers are nice and seem to really care about you. The campus is really creative and outdoorsy. The library and technology programs are excellent. And so are the academic programs. DA makes learning fun.
Everything is top of the line and the regular school environment is great as well as their athletics program. They are also top of the line when it comes to education too. Most of the kids who go here, go to Harvard, Yale, Duke, M.I.T, Dartmoth and other great schools.
Overall, my experience at this school has been average. I am one of several new students here at DA. The academics are rigorous, but not intriguing. I sometimes find myself bored, not out of the lack of rigor, but out of the lack of interest from the whole room, including the teacher. Now let me address the social issue. It is extremely hard for me to fit in. I find myself home all the time, not included in virtually everything. And the worst part of that is that I've signed up and I continue to participate in clubs during and after school. I also am in the sports program. What else can I do to fit in?! I keep trying, and I'm still not being accepted. Clearly, the social thing is not going to change. And that does not help my liking of the school any better.
I have had my daughter at DA for 2 years now, and our experience has been excellent. Kindergarten is exceptional; kind, loving teachers who really care about the families that join the school, small class sizes, great resources and great special teachers. The Lower School has some star teachers, some very good teachers, and some good teachers, but the real value is the special teachers and their programs (PE, Art, Music, Drama, Spanish, Math, Science), and the small class sizes and resources that are available that give the students the excellent education that they are paying for.
As a student, I cant say that this is really a happy place to go to school. The quality of teachers is extremely variable and often times their best teaching methods and kindest care are saved for the students with the most influential parents in the community. Many teachers play 'favorites' and ignore those that are not of their liking. The campus needs a LOT more lovin' and it is hard to figure out where all the tuition money goes when the campus looks so terrible. In all fairness, the cacdemics are quite good and they do prepare students for college and the outside world...but definitely not in the social scene.
The middle school is excellent, although there is some variability among teachers in their quality. Glass (Spanish), Parry (English), Harger (Science) and Wilson (Math) are outstanding in the 5th and 6th grades. The Lower School is much more uneven in quality. There will be a new director at the Middle School starting in 2008-2009. The four years at the Middle School are critical ones, and I hope that the new administrator is more aggressive at building better communications with parents. In general communications between the administration and the parents are poor. For the money we are paying, I would expect it to much more personalized. As for DA's success in getting students into top colleges, rememberth
I have absolutely loved this school for my children. From Pre-K through the Upper School, my kids have been well-served by a wonderful core of teachers and caring administrators. I know that my children are well prepared for college and for life. I think the school gives children a strong moral foundation (with planned community service activities) and the academics are simply unparalleled (and my husband and I attended two other independent schools!). DA is the best.
The LS does not meet my high expectations (which it should). The teaching methods in the core classroom are weak. The enrichment classes are good. Science and Spanish are the best.
This is a very mediocre school for the area in which it is located. There are many other (and slightly better) schools in the area. This school overcharges tuition, and lacks in almost all of the categories Please note that this is my own personal experience with my children, and cannot speak for anyone else.
I can't yet speak as a parent, but as a graduate (attended 6-12 grades), I can say that I've gone on to UNC-CH & Johns Hopkins and DA set me up for success. As a freshman and sophomore, UNC was easier than high school. DA is where I learned to learn and learned to think, and for that I will always be thankful.
We have two children at DA and are having a fabulous experience. Both cannot wait to go to school each morning. The assignments are innovative, the teachers are experienced, and the facilities are incredible. The projects our children bring home evidence considerable learning. The teachers are accessible and enjoy being with all of the kids. Parents are highly involved and friendly. In sum, I cannot envision a better experience for our children.
i have 3 children at DA, and needless to say it was hailed as 'the best school in the southeast', and for a reason. In the state of North Carolina, Durham Academy has the highest percentage of kids getting admitted to their top colleges. As far as the pre-school, lower school and middle school are concerned, there is definitley room for improvement, however Durham Academy Upper School is worth every penny. Many DA graduates say that college is easier for them because they went to the best school in the south eastern region of the United State.
With all of your whining about everything of Durham Academy... why do the students get into such fine colleges such 10% to harvard, and 25% to duke. Not all students are told they are 'gifted'. that is the most abusrd statement ive ever heard. 3 children from DA in the past 4 years have gotten a perfect SAT score, and DA has 2 nominations for a morehead every year.... 3 years in a row a DA student has been a recipient. Durham Academy has been said by 4 sources (2 of them being college admission staffs) to be the best school in the the southeastern part of the United States. The highschool is worth every penny.
Quality of academics in the lower school is not on par with the tuition charged. Further, the teachers do not want to have any feedback from parents on what child needs. Definitely not a partnership, really they want you involved for fundraising, but it ends there. Definitely not a place for gifted kids, ask for any extra enrichment and you will be told that all of their students are gifted. Sounds like Garrison Keeler's Lake Wobegon. Have heard that middle school gets better, lower school teachers act like a high school click where they talk about the 'problem' parents behind closed doors. Teachers do not want to work too hard and they run the administration. The older ones that have been there the longest are highest on the totem pole.
Durham Academy has many great teachers, some wonderful students but entitled parents and a weak headmaster undermine the school's success. Too much time is spent on fund raising and trying to sell the school. Students are catered to and when they go off to college they are shocked that the real world ignores whining.
The administration is very weak. There has been a significant amount of teacher turnover, but there are good teachers at the school. Several years ago, it was a very good school. The current leadership has hurt the school. The headmaster is aloof and teacher moral is low. It is not the school that it was, but it still has potential.
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