A Chattanooga, Tennessee, native and alumnus of the McCallie School, Burns graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College, and he earned his masterâ€™s degree in educational administration at Harvard. He has also studied at the London School of Economics and worked at a law firm in New York City.
Prior to being appointed PDS headmaster in 2000, he served as a teacher, coach and administrator at Christ School (a high school boys' boarding school in North Carolina) and as the Director of Day Student Admission at the McCallie School in Chattanooga. He currently serves as the President of the Elementary School Heads Association (a group of approximately 235 heads of K-6 and K-8 independent schools around the country), and he is a member of the Country Day School Headmasters Association and the Visionary Heads Group. He served as a task force member to help the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) develop Principles of Good Practice for Middle School Educators.
He has been a presenter at annual conferences of the National Association of Independent Schools, the International Boysâ€™ School Coalition, the Educational Records Bureau, and the Elementary School Heads Association. He serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence, an institute which provides professional development for public and independent schools. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Hillside School, an independent boys' boarding school near Boston.
Mr. Burns has been an avid tennis player, winning six state championships as a junior or adult. He still enjoys tennis, squash, and most any sport, as well as reading and writing. He has co-authored a book on a boyâ€™s journey to manhood, Flight Plan: Your Mission To Become A Man, and he has been published in Independent School, a magazine published by the National Association of Independent Schools.
He is married to Sarah, and they have three children. They are members of Second Presbyterian Church, where he serves as an elder.