Durham Nativity School – A Dream Fulfilled
In the mid-1980’s 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. Kiernan and Coach Blunt struck a deal—Blunt would coach Kiernan, and Kiernan would tutor one of Blunt’s runners, prepping him for the SAT to become college eligible and earn a running scholarship.
Each day after track practice, the boys sat at the Moylan’s 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 asked how that could be, the young man replied, “I could always run, so they kept on promoting me.”
Sadly, despite the boys’ efforts, with so little time and so much ground to make up, the runner did not qualify for college.
While Kiernan went on to attend college and run for his school, the other young man had few options, and unfortunately turned to gang life. Two years later he was shot and killed. Ultimately, though, his all-too-short life served a greater purpose.
Vowing to make a difference.
Kiernan’s father, Dr. Moylan had developed the emergency trauma unit at Duke University Hospital. In that role, he performed surgeries on many youth who had suffered gunshot or stabbing wounds. He saw firsthand the horrors of violence — the damage, both physical and emotional it could inflict; how it could tear apart the fabric of a family, a neighborhood, an entire community.
The death of his son’s former teammate put a face on the problem and galvanized Dr. Moylan’s desire to reduce the senseless and often gang-related bloodshed. Dr. and Mrs. Moylan vowed that one day they would do what they could to help others avoid that fate and make Durham a better place.
Once their six children were on their own, the Moylan’s 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 seem to work best. They discovered that a sustained rather than short-term approach to education was the most effective.
The Moylan’s had found their model and began to refine their dream. They assembled a board of directors, and selected a head of school in April of 2002. The doors opened the following August.
Now in its 16th year, Durham Nativity School and its graduates have achieved much success. Its inaugural class entered college in the fall of 2009 and graduated in spring of 2013. The graduates are now employed in diverse professions ranging from a teacher to a human resources associate in the RTP area. (Find more facts about DNS Alumni here.)
Dr. Moylan’s vision and dream have come to fruition.