Dreams often rise out of necessity or vision. The Durham Nativity School is a result of both.
In the mid-1980s, Kiernan Moylan, a junior at Durham Academy Upper School, wanted to do track workouts in the off-season. His coach put him in touch with a legendary track coach, who agreed to allow Kiernan to train with his high school track team if Kiernan would be willing to tutor two of his runners. Both runners had been offered college scholarships but were having difficulty achieving the scores necessary for admission.
The young men would come home with Kiernan each day after track practice and study at the Moylan’s kitchen table. It became immediately apparent to Kiernan’s parents, Joseph and Ann Carole Moylan, that the young men were academically unprepared for college.
The Moylans also learned that the young men’s home lives were insecure with frequent moves, parental unemployment, and unsafe neighborhoods. Both were wonderful young men, but they were in the process of slipping through the cracks.
Dr. Moylan, a Duke Hospital Trauma Surgeon, never forgot the family’s experience with those young men. He began to consider what he could do to make a difference for others. As retirement approached, someone suggested that Dr. Moylan visit the Nativity School in New York City. It 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.
Since opening its doors sixteen years ago, the Durham Nativity School has changed the lives of its students and their families. Its inaugural class entered college in the fall of 2009 and graduated in spring of 2013. Durham Nativity’s graduates have higher college attendance rates than the national average, and they work in diverse professions ranging from K-12 education, human resources, and medical research. (Read more about Durham Nativity School alumni here).
Today, Dr. Moylan’s dream of changing the lives of young men in Durham has come to fruition through the Durham Nativity School.