Paul Cuffee Remembers Founding Board President David Burnham and his wife Anne


Paul Cuffee School’s founding board president David Burnham and his wife Anne Burnham

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Dear Paul Cuffee School Community Members,

We write with deep sadness and regret to inform the Paul Cuffee School community that Anne Burnham passed away on June 4, 2014 and her husband David, founding board president of Paul Cuffee School, passed away the morning of June 5, 2014. The shock of their passing so close together is softened ever so slightly by knowing that after 62 years of loving marriage they were only apart for a few hours.

David and Anne Burnham were devoted throughout their lives to education. Teachers both, they dedicated themselves to educational communities, including Northfield Mount Hermon, Loomis Chaffee School, Moses Brown, Lincoln School, and others. Their personal commitment to the students, families, teachers and staff that have made up the Paul Cuffee School community since 2001 was simply inspiring. As founding board president, Dave willed the School into being. Before there was a school building, a head, a teacher or a student, he, along with Cyril Burke and a small group of volunteers, imagined a school that would serve the children of Providence with caring and compassion and a maritime theme. Inspired by the life and example of Paul Cuffee, they recruited David Bourns as the founding head, cobbled together space in three different buildings, and brought our school to life. At every step of this amazing journey Anne was a partner to Dave, and the school we know and love today simply would not exist without them.

For thirteen years, Dave visited one – and, in more recent years, often all three – of the Cuffee buildings on a weekly if not daily basis. He lived and breathed the school and brought the stories of staff, teacher, and student accomplishments to every conversation. His enthusiasm for and belief in Cuffee students was contagious, and more than one generous supporter of the school found their way to PCS through Dave Burnham. The pride that Dave and Anne felt for the school could be seen on their faces at every town meeting they attended, and we know that their loving spirit will be very much present at the first Paul Cuffee Upper School graduation next Tuesday evening at the Columbus Theatre (a venue which Dave personally arranged for the school to use).

As the two Board presidents who had the good fortune to succeed Dave Burnham, we are both grateful for his mentorship, advice, and example. We will miss his wisdom, his spark, and his humor. We will miss Anne’s passion for education, her caring smile, and her love for her family and her many communities. Above all, we will miss their friendship, as will many, many others. As parents and grandparents to their immediate family and the thousands of children they taught and led over their amazing lives, they know no equal and they will be deeply missed.

On June 19th the Paul Cuffee Board of Trustees will hold its annual meeting, which would have been Dave’s last as a Trustee. We had prepared the resolution below to present to him at that meeting, and while we cannot do so in person we present it to the School community in honor of the lives well lived by David and Anne Burnham.


Russell Carey
President, Board of Trustees

Joop Nagtegaal
Past Board President and Trustee

click here to view resolution


Average Class Size: 20
Current Enrollment: 820
Students of Color: 96%
Female Students: 51%
Male Students: 49%
Free/Reduced Price Lunch Eligibility: 82%
Multi-Language Learners: 19%
Students Receiving Special Education Services: 13%
Total Employees: 168
BIPOC: 45%
Female Employees: 75%
Male Employees: 25%