About Kestrel Heights Charter School



Kestrel Heights Charter School is a small, diverse, and inclusive learning community in Durham that empowers our Scholars to sharpen academic knowledge, demonstrate creative expression and expand leadership abilities to prepare for success in high school, college, and beyond.

We Are Intentionally Small

Parents, families, and staff are appreciative of our school’s relatively small size.  We have no plans to expand enrollment substantially over the roughly 500 students we have now.  Our small size ensures that there are no strangers in our building.  Every student feels like they are part of a close community.  Every student has multiple adults looking after him or her.

We Are Diverse and Inclusive

Kestrel Heights is diverse in the most literal sense of the word.  We are diverse racially and ethnically. Indeed, we have students and staff from North Carolina, different parts of the country, and from many different continents. We are diverse in our religious beliefs, some of our scholar’s families are very devout while others have no religious beliefs at all. We are diverse in the age and experience range of teachers on staff.  We celebrate our diversity in everything we do, and our community is truly an inclusive one where each person has an opportunity to succeed, be supported, and have his or her voice heard. As much as we value our diversity, it is our inclusiveness that makes our community a good and just place to learn.

Durham is Our Home

We are proud to be located in Durham. Durham has a compelling, rich, and multifaceted history that inspires the work we do every day. We believe that our school and our students will play a vital role in shaping Durham’s future. That is a responsibility that we accept with optimism and sincerity.

We Empower Our Scholars

We teach our students, we work with them as they grow physically and emotionally, and we aspire to be positive role models for our students. The desired end result of that work is scholars who are truly empowered to navigate this complicated world as they grow into adolescence, into teenage years and young adulthood. Our students are not just passively along for the ride of elementary school and middle school. Our scholars are empowered and have agency over their thoughts, choices, and actions.

We Sharpen Students’ Academic Knowledge

Naturally, the primary responsibility of any school is student learning. Student performance in literacy and numeracy are the ultimate benchmarks upon which our school is evaluated by local and state authorizers. At Kestrel Heights, however, we are more motivated by each individual student’s educational growth than we are by the average test score of all our students.  Since all of our students arrive with skills to grow upon, we will empower our scholars to sharpen their academic knowledge.

We Encourage Creative Expression

We value traditional academic subjects and we are committed to expanding each child’s knowledge base. We are also focused on educating the whole child. Our specials classes, our electives courses, our extra-curricular club activities, and our athletic teams provide students with the vital outlets to learn and grow outside of the classroom.  Our scholars employ these outlets to problem solve, think differently, and work with teammates to accomplish common goals.  Thus, our scholars are empowered to demonstrate creative expression.

We Build Confident Leaders

Finally, our scholars are empowered to expand leadership abilities.  We believe that every child in the Kestrel Heights community has innate leadership ability.  That ability can be manifested in many different ways.  We have scholars who are more reserved and quietly lead by example.  We have scholars who are more gregarious and inspire their peers with their charisma and enthusiasm.  We have some scholars who lead by wisely choosing who to follow and when.  Everyone has a role to play, and everyone has an opportunity to step up and be a leader in one way or another.

Download Welcome Message

Dear Kestrel Community,

I know our entire community has many questions about school for next year.  Please know that safety and well-being are our highest priorities.  In order to prepare for next year, we have established a Return to School committee.

There are several subcommittees in order to ensure that we are following all health protocols to make the school a safer location.  We have committees for:

  • Wellness (focused scholar safety and mental health support)
  • Instruction (focused on ensuring quality education when we return and improving our distance learning plan)
  • Facilities ( focused on ensuring KHS campus is safe for scholars and staff to return)
  • Operations (focused on a safe and organized transition back to classroom instruction)
  • Technology (focused on improving technology infrastructure and assets to support distance learning and classroom instruction)

These committees have been working for over a month.  If you are interested in helping with any of these committees please contact Dr. Tracy (tracy@kestrelheights.org).

Please note that we have received some information from the Governor and State Superintendent on reopening but we are awaiting some key decisions.  We have been informed that we will receive a significant update on July 1, 2020.

Based on that information we anticipate providing a tentative plan for next year on July 15, 2020.  Please make sure you have completed the parent survey on returning to school, we are using that data in finalizing our plan.

English Survey: https://forms.gle/v6wjK15jDBmh1Wdn6
Spanish Survey:  https://forms.gle/2cY7qfxP2UgfTNjFA

Technology will play a critical role in our return and we are committed to ensuring all scholars have access to technology and materials.  As a result, Kestrel Heights will be a One to One technology school starting next year.  This means that all scholars will have access to their own device.

If you have immediate concerns or needs please reach out to Dr. Tracy (tracy@kestrelheights.org) so we can understand how to help.

Dr. Mark Tracy
(w) 919-484-1300 ext 201
(c) 240-535-6362



Kestrel Heights School, located near the Research Triangle Park in Durham, is a public charter school established in 1998. Beginning in Fall 2017, the school will focus exclusively on elementary and middle school students with approximately 600 students in Kindergarten through 8th Grade.

The Kestrel Heights team believes that all children can succeed. We provide a diverse and welcoming environment where academics are emphasized, creativity is celebrated, and children are encouraged to excel.

By fostering a community with high expectations, modeling characteristics of responsible citizenship, and focusing on the development of the whole person, we aim to nurture lifelong learners.


It’s hard to believe that our school year has come to an end. The entire staff at Kestrel Heights has enjoyed the privilege of teaching your children. It is such a joy to watch the students grow and mature as the school year progresses. I hope you and your family have an amazing summer. We are so blessed to have an amazing community of students and families who support our school and we look forward to seeing you next year.


As you begin your summer break, our team is already beginning to get ready for the 2017-18 school year. We are focused on “ACE,” our plan to enhance our school’s Academics, Culture and Enrichment opportunities. That includes our new partnership with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a nationally recognized leader in education. They will provide an enhanced, integrated curriculum for K-8 students that will be introduced in the fall.


We currently have limited spaces available for next year and are actively recruiting new students. We hope you will encourage friends and neighbors to consider sending their children to Kestrel Heights.

The SOAR program (Supporting Our Active Recruitment) rewards families who help attract new students to Kestrel Heights. Each time you recommend our school to a family that enrolls a student next year, you will be entered to win one of three $100 Amazon gift cards. These cards will be awarded during the first week of school.

You can enter multiple times based on the number of enrolled students you invite to KHS. Spread the word about the great opportunities at Kestrel Heights – through Facebook and social media, by talking to families at church or youth sporting events, etc.

We want KHS to SOAR next year and I know we can with your help. Thank you for your continued support!

Note: If you have a friend who enrolls at KHS, they should inform Ms. Vargas that they were referred by you and you will be entered into the drawing. The winners will be announced at the start of next school year and will be featured on our website. If you have already referred someone, please let Ms. Vargas know so we can get you entered into the drawing.


Kestrel Heights School believes in the Paideia principles of teaching. A Paideia school is a community of students, teachers, and parents who are committed to creating and sustaining an educational environment that fosters lifelong learning and creating knowledgeable, concerned, and responsible citizens.

PAIDEIA comes from the ancient Greek words pais, paidos and means the upbringing of a child

Principles of a Paideia Education
  • That all children can learn.
  • That, therefore, they all deserve the same quality of schooling, not just the same quantity.
  • That the quality of schooling to which they are entitled is what the wisest parents would wish for their own children, the best education for the best being the best education for all.
  • That schooling at its best is preparation for becoming generally educated in the course of a whole lifetime, and that schools should be judged on how well they provide such preparation.
  • That the three callings for which schooling should prepare all Americans are:
    1. To earn a decent livelihood
    2. To be a good citizen of the nation and world
    3. To make a good life for one’s self
  • That the primary cause of genuine learning is the activity of the learner’s own mind, sometimes with the help of a teacher functioning as a secondary and cooperative cause.

You can read more about Paideia by visiting The Paideia Center.

Life is a learning process; learning is a life-long process. You can’t separate the two.
Vivienne Forrester