Cary High counselor finalist for national honor

Posted February 1, 2011 2:00 p.m. EST

— Cary High School counselor Linda Brannan has been named one of 10 finalists for the School Counselor of the Year award.

A counselor for more than 25 years, Brannan helped to found the Wildcat Academy at Millbrook High School in 2001, which seeks to ease students’ transitions from middle to high school. Under her leadership at Cary High, graduation rates have increased from 79.7 to 82.3 percent, and students say they feel more empowered about the college admissions process.

Brannan also led a team to increase the number of minority students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses. Her committee identified qualified students, managed a Curriculum Fair for families to see the benefits of taking AP courses and developed an attendance plan to ensure students were present in their classrooms every day.

“Mrs. Brannan has guided students and parents through the maze to reach positive outcomes,” Debra Goldman, vice chairwoman of the Wake County Board of Education and a parent of one of Brannan’s students, said in a statement. “She has truly proved that she is here to serve the students and will do whatever is necessary to accomplish that goal.”

The School Counselor of the Year awards program was open to all 100,000 members of the school counseling profession. The top 10 counselors were nominated by their peers and administrators and judged by a select panel on several criteria, including: creative counseling innovations, effective programs, leadership skills and contributions to student advancement.

Brannan and the other nine finalists will be flown to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday for three days of celebratory events, including meetings with their members of Congress and attending a black-tie gala.