Welcome to Duke School

Dear Friends & Families,

On behalf of all of us at Duke School, welcome to our school.

This year, we celebrate 75 years as the leading progressive, project-based institution in the region, with a reputation that extends nationwide. Here, students are encouraged and empowered to think critically and compassionately, pose questions, wonder, dig deep, and truly find joy in discovery. Every time I walk into a classroom, I am surrounded by a buzz of energy, as students engage deeply –even at the youngest ages–with topics that are stimulating, relevant, and personally fulfilling. 

Unique to Duke School is that this rigorous learning takes place in an environment of true belonging. We believe your child must feel safe, known, and truly cared for in order to take the academic and intellectual risks necessary to learn. Everyone on staff at Duke School is committed to building and sustaining a community that is close-knit and compassionate–and big enough to hold space for all manner of diversity, culture, beliefs, and backgrounds–united by our school’s core mission and values. 

At Duke School, your child will be valued as a unique person with strength and capacity. With fellow students, your child will be challenged to understand themselves in the context of others, to listen thoughtfully and share their ideas, and to care about the world around them as they increasingly take charge of their own learning. We confidently send our Dragons into the world prepared to tackle challenges we can only imagine today.

Our commitment at Duke School is that our mission is lived out in our program every day, child-by-child. So, whether you are discovering our school for the first time or have been a member of our community for years, I am confident that you will feel that commitment in every interaction you have with our students, teachers, or staff. We encourage you to spend time discovering what makes our school so special through our website and that you visit campus to see the wonders of our program for yourself. We hope to see you soon. 


Lisa Nagel

Head of School

What we do matters

Students from the best project based schools in Durham, NC standing outside with a female faculty member
Parents from a private middle school in North Carolina sitting inside of a classroom at desks
Students standing outside of a Durham independent school wearing white shirts
Two students sitting on wood stairs inside of a library at a private middle school in Durham NC

School leadership

  • Kathy Bartelmay, Curriculum Director
  • Maryssa Cappelletti, Director of Marketing & Communications 
  • Kenneth Chandler, Director of Advancement & Community Engagement
  • Russell Rabinowitz, Director of Finance & Operations
  • Bob Robinson, Middle School Director
  • Kimberly Shaw, Director of Equity, Justice, & Belonging
  • Nicole Thompson, Lower School Director
  • Linda Margarita Vargas, Director of Enrollment Management


Board of Trustees