Sister Louise Kearns, SND
Sister Louise Kearns, SND, joined the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1959. She received a B.A. in Education and Biology from Emmanuel College and later earned a Masters in education and counseling from Antioch College. In 1969, Sr. Louise moved into the D Street Housing Project in South Boston, where she taught junior high school students, and began a summer youth program. While working in the projects, she became increasingly aware of the immense challenges facing poor families headed by single mothers.
Her experiences lead her to finally establish an Adult Learning Program in 1979 in the community. The program provided the mothers with educational services and peer support, while their young children received quality day care. The following year, Sister Louise joined hands with Sr. Jean Sullivan to create Julie’s Family Learning Program.
Sister Jean Sullivan, SND
Sister Jean Sullivan, SND, joined the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1957. Upon completing her Bachelor of Arts degree at Emmanuel College, she began teaching first grade in communities throughout Massachusetts. During her summer months, she worked with migrants in New Jersey and Delaware. While working with migrant families, she encountered many children who had poor self-esteem and little self-confidence. Sr. Jean began searching for educational approaches that would best help these young children, and ultimately settled on the Montessori method as the most effective. She earned her certification as a Montessori teacher from Cornell University.
In 1974 Sr. Jean joined with Sr. Pat O’Malley to establish Julie’s Children’s House, named after the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and Maria Montessori’s first school, the “Children’s House.” The program was unique in that it not only offered a Montessori education to low-income children, it also provided their mothers with monthly home visits and educational sessions on parenting. In 1980 Sister Jean and Sr. Louise Kearns decided to jointly create what is now Julie’s Family Learning Program.