When I graduated from Boston College in May 2021, I, like many other recent graduates, was unsure of the career path I wanted to pursue. As I attempted to navigate this unmapped journey, I began volunteering at Durham Nativity School, an independent all-boys private school in downtown Durham serving low-income students in grades 5 through 8 with the mission of “provid[ing] an excellent education for young men, empowering them to make a difference in the world.” I hoped that my time spent volunteering at DNS would offer me some sort of direction in deicing what career path I wanted to choose. As it turns out, it did. I so enjoyed my time volunteering, and in turn, I took a job at the school as the Student Life Coordinator.
My experience at DNS thus far has been nothing short of incredible. Through small class sizes and an extended school day, I have been lucky enough to get to know each student: they tell me about their story, hobbies, passions, and life at home. My biggest take away has been that although these kids are under-privileged; many of them from single parent households, 88% on the federal meal assistance program, and many whose parents work multiple jobs to try and make ends meet, they are just kids at heart. They love to play, to joke around with one another, to learn, to be creative, to sing and dance. Yet, while these students are just like every other child, they lack the resources and support system necessary to succeed in school and beyond. DNS aims to provide these resources and support system and does so through the establishment of a strong relationship with the student and family.
What differentiates Durham Nativity School from other private middle schools is that when a student enrolls at DNS, a long-term relationship begins and will last well beyond the middle school years. During 8th grade, the Director of Graduate Support guides each student through the high school application process. In addition, DNS assists in any gaps in high school scholarship and tuition that the family may be unable to afford. Upon graduation from middle school, DNS helps with the transition to high school, monitors their progress, and acts as a supportive resource for each student during uncertain times. This relationship between the school and the students then continues throughout the transition to college and beyond. Durham Nativity School even offers career coaching and mentorship for DNS alumni after graduation from college. DNS has incredibly high success rates where 95% of students attend private preparatory high schools and 91% of graduates from DNS (the vast majority of whom are first generation college students) go to college.
Durham Nativity School is similar to other non-profits in the sense that the school needs volunteers to enhance the learning experience and support the mission of DNS, but does not have the time or resources for community outreach. That’s where Triangle Cares comes into play.
So how can you volunteer at Durham Nativity School?
1. Become a tutor - commit to coming to the school each week to provide 1 on 1 assistance to the boys who need help in subjects they may struggle with.
2. Donate school supplies and sports equipment - DNS is always appreciative of these kinds of items to make sure the students have everything they need in the classroom and on the sports field.
3. Become a counselor at the Summer Reading Camp - Each summer, DNS holds a summer reading camp to make sure the boys stay caught up to their grade reading level and to provide support to the students' parents who need someone to watch their children as they work.
4. Volunteer as a club mentor - Is there a certain sport or niche that you are passionate about? DNS is looking to grow its selection of extracurricular clubs to enhance the learning experience, so commit to coming once a week to teach the boys.
DNS is often referred to by the head of school, Mr. Vince Vincent, as a hidden gem in Durham; his goal is to make DNS a more well-known organization throughout the community and beyond. Triangle Cares can assist in achieving this goal by bringing volunteers, awareness, and excitement to such an amazing organization in the triangle. By volunteering at DNS, you can be a part of inspiring, motivating, and pushing these students to their full potential as leaders of the next generation.
Jordan Hannan and Jordan Lappin