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October 6, 2023

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

Academic intervention a critical part of the learning environment, especially at schools with high academic standards.

Longtime English teacher Melissa Pierce is Notre Dame Prep's academic interventionist.

When Notre Dame Prep first brought an academic interventionist onto the staff in the counseling department almost two years ago, that position had a specific role much different from counselors. 

While counselors and the academic interventionist alike have each student's total welfare as top of mind, counselors focus on social and emotional needs as well as college and career advising, and Andy Durkin, who came in as the school's first academic interventionist, focused on keeping students on track academically, which meant working on time management, reading comprehension skills and problem-solving among others.

Durkin has since moved on to become an assistant principal at Holy Family Regional School in Rochester Hills, and this fall NDP hired longtime educator Melissa Pierce to take over his position.

It's a role she believes in and one that also will serve to expand her career in far less traditional ways.

"I applied for the academic interventionist position at NDP because I thought it would provide a good opportunity to help students be successful in different ways, plus it professionally challenges me to look at instruction outside of my former role as an English teacher," she said.

A native of Ohio and a graduate of Ohio State University, Pierce said she's been in Michigan for more than 20 years now and when she moved to Lake Orion, she began to learn more about Notre Dame Prep from neighbors and friends and became intrigued. She acknowledges that for a school with such an outstanding academic reputation, people may wonder why an academic interventionist is even necessary.

Stressing the soft skills

"Academic intervention is important in all schools, even those with high academic standards," she said. "I not only help students who may need extra assistance because of a learning disability or a medical condition, but I also help students who may simply need an extra hand when things become challenging or overwhelming."

She adds that skills like time and task management, planning and organization, goal-setting, and effective communication are not innately learned; they need to be taught. 

"But unfortunately, sometimes those 'soft skills' can be overlooked in meeting all the academic requirements of a course. In this sense, I have the ability to help students take a step back and look at what they need and what steps we could take together to build toward more success."

Pierce and her family make their home in Lake Orion.

Prior to coming to Notre Dame Prep, Pierce taught in various school districts in both Ohio and Michigan, with her last position in the Oak Park School District where she taught speech, communication and reading intervention. She is glad she made the move to NDP.

"I have been very happy at NDP so far," she said. "The staff is very friendly and welcoming, and the other teachers have been supportive of my role and desire to help students. It was a learning curve to come from public to private schools, but I'm happy with the transition and the overall environment here at NDP. It’s been rewarding to work with students individually and in small groups to help them find ways to be successful in their classes."

Pierce also quickly embraced the school mission and how it can be applied to her work with students.

Mission at work and home

"I think all of us can benefit from thinking about how we can become more thoughtful, kind and engaged in our communities," she said. "One thing I love about NDP is the few moments every day where we are encouraged to reflect upon ourselves and our place in the world around us. Whether we do that through prayer, meditation, reflection or whatever method, it’s important to understand ourselves within the larger community and how we can help make positive changes around us. I think it also helps me to be more positive and thoughtful both at work and home."

Home for Pierce, she noted, also is very engaging.

"Home for me includes my husband, Barkley, and our four children, aged 13, 16, 17 and 20," said the lifelong Buckeye fan. "We recently were married, and our blended family is both wonderful and chaotic! Our household is full and busy, so we enjoy relaxing on the lake and spending time on the trails and in the parks around Oakland County."

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

Comments or questions?

Follow Notre Dame on Twitter at @NDPMA.

About Notre Dame Preparatory School 
Notre Dame Preparatory School is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School's upper 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 Prep'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, visit the school’s home page at