New, larger space for New Horizons Academy

Sep. 10, 2013 @ 02:48 PM

The sign that hangs outside of their new building says it best: “… where failure is no longer an option and excellence is an expectation.”

New Horizons Character and Leadership Academy began a new school year recently in a new space that promises the potential for growth and expansion that the school is looking for.
Having just moved into the new space in July, New Horizons has walls that are scarcely covered in artwork but a faculty and staff that are dedicated to making sure that every student succeeds.
New Horizons Founder Martina “Coach D” Dunford could barely hold back smiles as she talked about the new space and what it means for the future of the small, private school.
“Look at what God’s done now, look at what He’s done again,” Dunford said as she walked out of the school’s multipurpose room. “The increase in space means that we’ll be able to take the vision a little bit higher.”
The new space used to be The Summit before it became The River. New Horizons was housed with Reality Ministries across from Durham School of the Arts. The new building at 4005 Holt School Road stood vacant for three years before becoming New Horizons Academy.
“Now we can help twice as many kids and figure out how to make our public schools system work better,” she continued. “We can address the individual needs of our children. They’re hurting but we can help them.”
The new space includes about 30 rooms spread out over two levels, including a multipurpose room, a computer lab and library, teacher lounge and main office. The academy currently has 30 students enrolled so far, with 50 students expected for the entire semester.
Currently serving sixth through 12th grades, New Horizons has class sizes of about eight students per teacher, explained the school’s executive director, the Rev. Louis Threatt.
“Seeing the need for Durham and that people were wanting to know more about New Horizons, we knew we needed more space,” Threatt said. “It would give us the opportunity to help students in Durham and the surrounding area.”
Threatt said that this year New Horizons is serving a few students from Raleigh and that so far things are off to a strong and promising start.
“The students are loving it, but at the same time we’re challenging them,” he said. “We’re asking them what does it mean to be a leader but also, what does it mean to be a God-based leader because there is a difference. With math, science, history, English and the other classes here, we’re empowering them.”
New Horizons Character and Leadership Academy boasts being Durham’s first Christ-centered, ecumenical, tuition-free private school. Tailored to help students who are at greatest risk of dropping out of school, New Horizons is a nonprofit organization and dependent on grants and donations to operate.
Threatt spoke highly of Dunford and her role in filling a gap that many students in Durham were falling victim to.
“Coach D is an amazing woman,” he said. “She saw the need, that so many children were struggling in Durham with being kicked out of school and walking the streets. We work to compliment Durham Public Schools, to help in the educational process. What we’re doing here is like family. It’s (New Horizons) not just here for kids who have been kicked out but it’s another way.”
Threatt said that New Horizons uses a family approach and reminds students that everyone deserves another chance.
“Not only a second chance but a first chance as well,” he said. “We hold them accountable in here and once they see that we’re here to help push them in the right direction and that we care, we see them turn around.”
Last year, New Horizons began a restorative justice class that is taught by director of operations and teacher Derwin Hampton. Connecting theory to practical application, the class stresses positive options for negative situations.
“We teach them that prison is not an option,” Hampton said. “We don’t talk about prison here. God wants us to be restored. We help teach students that if you have a dispute that there’s another way to handle it. We give the kids a different look on things.”
New Horizons math teacher Andrew Rooney left the public sector to teach at the private school and sees a world of difference.
“The culture and the attitude of the teachers here … people want to be here. The teachers want to be here,” Rooney said. “I’m excited to come to work every day. Here we get to work one on one with students, we get to mentor and build relationships.”
For information on New Horizons Character and Leadership Academy including donations, contact the Rev. Louis Threatt at