Head of School
On July 1, 2018, Chris Durst became Altamont’s new head of school—the fifth since Altamont was formed in 1975 through the merger of Birmingham University School and Brooke Hill School. He served previously as upper school principal at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta, Georgia, and brings more than 29 years of diverse experience in independent schools as a teacher and administrator to his new position at Altamont.
Thank you for taking the time to visit the Altamont School website. In your exploration I hope you find the richness of the school’s wonderful history, its legacy for excellence in academics, arts and athletics, and its potential for growth and leadership in the greater Birmingham community.
The mission of the school—to improve the fabric of society through compassion, innovation and independent thinking—has been the anchor for the Altamont community since 1975. Students at Altamont have access to the most challenging curriculum and the finest teachers in the southeast United States. Altamont graduates attend the most competitive and prestigious colleges and universities across the country. And, throughout the greater Birmingham area you will find Altamont alumni leading this city into its next phase of growth and development. The future leaders of Birmingham are found right here at Altamont.
Upon your examination of this site, you will have access to all the pertinent information about our programs, our tremendously passionate and accomplished faculty, and the success our students achieve in all facets of school life. Yet what you won’t find on these web pages is perhaps the greatest gift of an Altamont education. It’s the soul of Altamont, and you can only find it when you experience our campus, visit with our faculty and staff and engage with our students. Every great school is soulful—there’s that “something” about the school that’s hard to describe but, once you arrive on campus, you know it’s there. At Altamont you can feel the sense of belonging and community spirit at every corner. When you talk to long-tenured faculty and staff, or speak with one of our students, I trust you will see that “something”, our Altamont soul, that makes us so special.
I encourage you to schedule a visit with us or come to campus for one of our many events. Check out one of our theatre performances or see our outstanding sports teams in action. Ask to visit the director of our Miree Leadership Center or take a tour with one of our student ambassadors and experience what an engaged and innovative Altamont education is. Whenever you visit us, I know that you’ll find an energetic community of parents, alumni, faculty and students. You’ll understand that the warm and welcoming atmosphere is not just for show, it’s who we are. We’d love for you to be a part of the Altamont experience.
I hope to see you soon; welcome to Altamont!
What was your first job?
I got my very first job when I was 17 as a maintenance person at an apartment complex. That wasn’t a great summer! My first job in education was as a 7th grade geography teacher, varsity boys soccer coach, jv boys basketball coach, and middle school baseball coach at Columbus Academy in Columbus, Ohio.
What is one thing you hope students know when they graduate?
I want them to know so many things! Fundamentally, I hope students know the difference between knowledge and wisdom, and that they have a sense of humility and empathy.
What is one of your favorite memories from middle or high school?
Our high school opened a new theater, and I had the lead role in the first play, Caine Mutiny Court Martial. We were so excited to have that new space. It was a big moment for the school and to be a part of that was special. We also won a state baseball championship when I was in high school, which was also a very big moment.
What is the best advice you were given and by whom?
The best advice I was given came from my high school baseball coach: “The more you give of yourself, the more you will love what is left.” I have thought of that at so many different points in my life.
What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your first year at Altamont?
Honestly, to get to know everyone’s name! I want to be able to recognize and greet every person I meet in the hallway.