Durham Nativity School

Durham Nativity | March 11th, 2015
Durham Nativity School Students.

Durham Nativity School Students.

Durham Nativity School is a middle school for boys who have the ability and commitment to achieve, but lack the resources to attend a quality, independent school. The school’s goal is to educate and empower each student to reach their highest potential without regard to race, religion or ethnicity.

The mission of the Durham Nativity School is to provide a tuition-free, enriched learning environment and an 11-year support system for middle school boys. The school promotes a rigorous academic program and nurtures the whole child to reach his potential through knowledge, moral values, learning skills, discipline, and character development. We instill the value of service for others as we build tomorrow’s role models and community leaders.

In the mid-1980s, Kiernan Moylan, the son of Dr. Joseph and Ann Carole Moylan, approached Hillside High School coaching legend, Russell Blunt about training under him. Kiernan wanted to run in college. However he couldn’t pay him, but he offered to do something in return for being an understudy for Coach Blunt. They struck a deal—Blunt would coach Kiernan, and Kiernan would tutor one of Blunt’s runners in math. The runner needed a high score on his SAT for college eligibility and a track and field scholarship. Each day after track practice, the boys sat at the Moylans’ dining room table and worked together. Unfortunately, Kiernan quickly discovered that not only did his teammate struggle with basic math, but he could barely read. When Kiernan inquired about his reading capabilities, the boy replied, “I could always run, so they kept on promoting me.” Sadly, despite the boys’ efforts and with so little time and so much ground to make up, the runner did not qualify. While Kiernan went on to attend college and run for his school, his teammate only had a few options. Unfortunately, he turned to gang life and two years later he was shot and killed. Ultimately his all-too-short life served a greater purpose.

Once their six children were on their own, the Moylans acted on their promise to each other and to Durham. On the advice of their pastor, Father David McBriar, they began to research the Nativity Miguel Network of Schools. They visited schools in New York, Boston and Baltimore to learn what methods seemed to work best. They discovered that a sustained rather than short-term approach to education was the most effective. The Nativity Schools and their students invest in an 11-year relationship, stretching from middle school through four years in a private high school and then four years of college. Compared to a national average of 33 percent; 62 percent of Nativity School graduates attend college. The Moylans decided they had found their model and began to refine their dream. They assembled a board of directors and after interviewing candidates, selected a head of school in April of 2002. The doors opened the following August. Now in its 13th year, Durham Nativity School and has achieved much success. Its inaugural 8th grade graduates entered college in the fall of 2009 and graduated in spring of 2013. They are now employed in diverse professions – from a teacher in local school to a human resources associate in the Research Triangle Park area.

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