About Us

Strong Durham Schools is a project begun by members of Durham Allies for Responsive Education, a community group formed to support and strengthen the Durham public schools. Since DPS schools are often disparaged in the press and by the general public, one of our first areas of concern was to set the record straight. Many students are thriving in Durham Public Schools and go on to achieve great things academically and in life as a result of their education. Are there challenges within Durham Public Schools? Of course. There are challenges in ALL schools. We are here to say that your child can get a fantastic education in a Durham public school. Ours are.

The site contains testimonials from parents, teachers, students, alumni, and staff affiliated with one or more schools. These stories were solicited through the local media, emails from friends, and the PTAs. Many of the stories are heartwarming; all show that parents in Durham are deeply invested in their children’s education. We decided early on to reject stories that do little more than feed the already negative stereotypes that so many in our area have about Durham Public Schools. To date, only two stories have been rejected on those grounds. There are plenty of other places to hear negative stories. We wanted to provide a place where community members could hear about the schools directly from the people involved, and not from “my hairdresser’s neighbor’s sister.” As you know, we have choices in Durham. There are many other options for families who choose not to send their children to Durham Public Schools. We’re here to invite you to take a look at our schools, because we have had wonderful experiences and feel that our students are being well served. Should you wish to speak with one of the authors of a story you read here, contact us at Strong.Durham.Schools@gmail.com. Over 90% of the respondents indicated that they are willing to speak with families interested in their school.

Concerned about scores?

Read Jennie Peters’s series of articles PsychoBabble. Jennie has a PhD in Educational Psychology and is a testing professional. She helps analyze testing data for school systems around the country and is at work on a book about testing.

Choosing a school?

Confused about how to choose a school for your child and how to navigate the waters of the DPS application process? Read the article on how to navigate DPS.

Who is behind Strong Durham Schools?

Who are the members of DARE and Strong Durham Schools? We are community members, parents, and teachers. Although Durham Public Schools is aware of our efforts in Strong Durham Schools and is supportive of them, its employees have provided no oversight of the content on this site.

Movers and shakers in Strong Durham Schools include:

  • Elizabeth Ely Tolman, PhD, mother of two children at Forest View Elementary
  • Christine Mayer-Patel, mother of two children at Morehead Montessori
  • Lindsay Vail, PhD, mother of two children at Club Blvd. Humanities Magnet


Special thanks:

  • Henry Scherich, Measurement, Inc. for providing 16,050 letters sent to all elementary-school-aged children in DPS
  • Clay Harris of WorkSmart for designing the website