By Jordan Lappin
The truth is that the education system in the US is failing its students. Compared to other countries throughout the world, the United States ranks 38th in math and 24th in science out of 71 countries. For students from under-resourced families, the reality is much worse. Black and Hispanic graduation rates lag behind the broader community, and there is a huge achievement gap between students from underprivileged families and those from families with greater resources. And that’s where Durham Nativity School comes into the picture.
In the early 2000’s, Dr. Moylan, a Duke Hospital Trauma Surgeon, was tired of seeing young black men end up in the trauma unit as a result of gang violence on the streets of Durham. And he decided to do something about it. As retirement approached, someone suggested that Dr. Moylan visited the Nativity School in New York City. In Brooklyn NY, the original Nativity School is an extended-day and school-year program designed to prepare middle school students for four-year college preparatory schools, followed by college “to become people for others.” The Moylans visited the New York Nativity School as well as other Nativity schools in Boston and Baltimore. They ultimately concluded that the Nativity Miguel Model of a sustained (rather than a short-term) approach to education would be the most effective in Durham. After a year-long planning process, along with the help of others in the Durham community, the school opened in the fall of 2002.
Today, twenty years later, Durham Nativity School remains a pioneer of change in the US education system. The Mission of Durham Nativity School is to provide an excellent education for young men, empowering them to make a difference in the world. What differentiates Durham Nativity School from other institutions is its twelve-year support system for young men in 5th through 8th grade who have the ability and commitment to achieve, but not the resources for a quality, independent school education. During 8th grade, the Director of Graduate Support guides each student through the high school application process. 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 the students progress, and acts as a supportive resource for each student during uncertain times.To date, Durham Nativity School maintains a one hundred percent high school graduation rate, and more than ninety percent of our graduates have attended college.
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.
Jordan Hannan and Jordan Lappin