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June 22, 2022

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, an independent, Catholic, International Baccalaureate school, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Alum returns to her alma mater to talk Juneteenth, America's "second Independence Day," and about engaging students more fully in the various cultural and historical milestones of America.

Dr. Jade (Curry) Burns, Ph.D., RN, CPNP-PC, NDP'98, left, currently a professor at the University of Michigan, spoke at Notre Dame Prep on June 20 about the origin of Juneteenth and why it was such a pivotal moment in history. 

When Dr. Jade Burns NDP'98 was a student at Notre Dame Prep in the late 90s, she thought it was entirely appropriate to suggest a number of school initiatives or events designed to help her fellow students understand more fully the African-American experience.

Much to her very pleasant surprise, school administrators agreed and Burns began to put together a series of discussions and events during Black History Month that focused on successful Black entrepreneurs and other prominent individuals from the local community.

"I was in student council at the time and I remember bringing three individuals here from the outside world to highlight Black history and the Black experience," she said. "I brought in a Black millionaire and I brought in the person who managed operations at the Silverdome."

She also got a local Black minister to talk to the students.

"I wanted especially to show how important the church was to African-Americans in the Pontiac area as well as all over," she said. "In addition, a number of Black-owned restaurateurs and food-service professionals also came in with samples of their cuisine for students and faculty to sample."

Her sole purpose for organizing this event and subsequent others was to educate her fellow Notre Dame Prep students beyond what they already know and more importantly beyond what's in a typical high school textbook.

Now, nearly 25 years later, Burns still is educating the NDPMA community as she was on campus June 20 for a special discussion on Juneteenth for an assembly of faculty and staff.

Now that Juneteenth is an official federal and state holiday, it was a good time — perhaps overdue — for someone like Burns to present on such a topic at her alma mater, noted Kala Parker, NDPMA's director of diversity and inclusion, who organized Monday's event.

Currently an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing, Burns also is a clinical expert on pediatric and community-based healthcare, with more than 15 years of experience working as a clinician, consultant and researcher in a variety of clinical, community-based and academic settings.

Her research focuses mainly on innovative approaches using community-engaged research and technology (e.g., social media, messaging, digital spaces) to increase access to preventative health services for adolescents and young adults in community health centers. Burns’ expertise in clinical practice as a pediatric nurse practitioner is in adolescent health care, family planning, health promotion and HIV/STI prevention. 

"My actual research really took off in terms of community health care and we put together a community advisory board in a real effort to make health care better especially for our young men in the community," she said during her presentation on Monday.

Improving nursing practice and training programs in underserved areas also is something Burns is keen to pursue on a regular basis. 

She maintains close collaboration with a variety of community partners within Detroit and serves on a myriad of nursing and non-nursing organizations. She is a board member of Detroit Teen H.Y.P. E (Helping Youth by Providing Education), a program that has reached more than 35,000 Detroit-area youth with programming designed to help prepare them for the world, and Connect-2-Protect, a coalition of advocates who care about preventing HIV in youth and beyond. 

Burns holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and nursing (BS/BSN) from the University of Michigan, a Master of Science degree in nursing (MSN-pediatric nurse practitioner, primary care) from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in nursing from the University of Michigan. She currently resides in Canton, Mich., with her family: husband Robert Burns and sons Robert II and Cade Burns. 

It was clear during her visit to NDP that family is a major focus for Burns. In fact, also in attendance at NDP on Monday was her mother, Aleta, who Burns said along with her father had a huge influence on her success. 

"My mom and dad did a wonderful job raising us," she said. "They were always promoting the things that we are passionate about. 'Go for it like 110%' was what my dad used to say to me and my siblings. But he did pass away quite some time ago, and I really wish he was here — but both of them together gave me the foundation that I have as an individual to this very day."

Burns also presented a number of ideas that Notre Dame as an institution might use going forward to keep "this ever-changing and challenging world" on the minds of its students.

She said that like Juneteenth, portions of our country's history related to the African-American experience have been somewhat suppressed, especially when it comes to the teaching of U.S. History. She suggested a number of things the school could do to celebrate Juneteenth, although the timing of the holiday during summer break presents some difficulties, though not insurmountable.  

Burns suggested that other underserved constituencies in America also could be celebrated beyond what the school already does. 

Burns, center, is with Head of School Andy Guest and Kala Parker, NDPMA's director of diversity and inclusion, after the special presentation on June 20.

Let's talk about Women's History Month, for example," she said. "There are many ways to involve the kids in celebrating all of the contributions made by women throughout the history of the United States."

Burns noted that activities for the students surrounding special commemorative months or weeks or days are perfect springboards to learning even more than they might get from textbooks. 

"Whether it's MLK Day or Veteran's Day or Juneteenth or the various history or cultural months that denote a special theme, etc., I believe they all need to be acknowledged in a special way."

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, an independent, Catholic, International Baccalaureate school, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at