How Wake County Public Schools Expanded their CCR Team


Wake County Public Schools in North Carolina serves more than 160,000 students. Vanessa Barnes has been the Dean of Students at Wake County since March 2011. In 2022, Vanessa became North Carolina’s State School Counselor of the Year and was also a top-five finalist for the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National School Counselor of the Year award.

Creating a CCR Team at Wake County

Like many districts, Wake County Public Schools has focused an increasing amount of resources towards career and college readiness—including staff. Reporting to two different departments, both the School Counselors and Career Development Coordinators worked to support students but were often siloed in their efforts. 

Noting the similarities in their overarching goals, Vanessa saw the opportunity to become more collaborative, share best practices, and promote CCR with one voice at Wake County. To guide co-planning, Wake County launched a CCR Team. Designed to be unified and complementary for student planning, the team’s overall goal was the same: support all Wake County students for a successful transition into post-secondary education, training, or employment.


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The Challenges

After years of working separately, building alignment was one of the top priorities. As they compared notes, they identified a number of challenges affecting the district.

  1. Schools had many different career readiness programs/CDP processes in place
  2. Middle school counselors weren’t familiar with all of WCPS’s high schools, making it difficult to guide students in the transition
  3. Schools often struggled to connect with and build in meaningful touch-points with parents around career readiness
  4. Counselors were juggling many different roles; building counselor expertise and buy-in for career readiness felt like “just another thing.”
  5. There was a lack of clear ownership between CCR stakeholders within schools


Streamlining Career Readiness into One Central Place

First, they sought to identify a unified set of CCR goals, timeline, and expectations for student preparedness. 

The district prioritized building student career development plans that would be digitized and accessible to all stakeholders (parents, counselors, and students) as a core mechanism for alignment and measuring progress.

Second, Wake County Public Schools selected MajorClarity to bring all of the career readiness into one place—a critical component to streamlining the existing CCR processes. For counselors, teachers, and principals, the platform removed the need to become an expert in career-specific guidance.

For students and parents, MajorClarity provided a single location for exploring careers and postsecondary programs while making it easier to communicate and build career plans. And for administrators, MajorClarity provided reports for resource allocation, CTE enrollment planning, and career plan monitoring.

👉 Hear how Wake County Public Schools made career development plans the foundation of  their CCR


Expanding the CCR Team 

Career and college readiness is only successful when adopted at multiple levels. Despite being a fundamental district priority, CCR programs are always at risk of being lost outside of core instructional time and easily siloed to a single counselor. 

The solution? Unifying educators, counselors, CDCs, and workforce partners to be part of career readiness programs.

This requires intentional training and resources that make facilitating career readiness activities simple. 

With the vision of bringing CCR activities into MajorClarity, Wake County started by bringing staff in from the beginning to help design the roll-out plan. They started with a clear, aligned vision from leadership–including training and awareness for counselors and CDCs, an asynchronous Google course assigned to all, internally appointed ‘champs’ to provide training and build resources for others, a timeline with tasks, and an FAQ that broke down common misconceptions. 

By setting the expectations for using MajorClarity, Wake County counselors were able to get comfortable first, then creative at their schools with their CDC counterparts.

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Vanessa Barnes [Wake County]

“One of our goals has always been alignment between middle and high school so that the transition is smoother and students already have an idea of how career development plays into their 4-year plan as they’re selecting courses.”
- Vanessa Barnes, Dean of Students


Once CDCs and counselors throughout the district were collaborating effectively, WCPS focused on creating regular ongoing touch-points for collaboration within their teams.

They leveraged these touch-points to bring more champions in: facilitating parent/guardian programs for career readiness and driving more local business partnerships. 

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👀 See Wake County Public Schools’ Implementation Plan & Collaboration Plan to learn more about these strategies.


Vanessa Barnes [Wake County]

“MajorClarity makes counseling purposeful with students. We can help students with scheduling their classes better and also make sure parents are informed about the different [career readiness] tools that are available.”

- Vanessa Barnes, Dean of Students


Along the way, Vanessa and her team partnered with MajorClarity’s Customer Success team to build roll-out documents and take advantage of existing partner resources (pacing guides, pre-built lessons, and parent tools) for educators.

The MajorClarity CS team helped customize academic course pathways and local labor data to ensure the platform was able to truly be the one-stop shop for CCR at Wake County.


Vanessa Barnes [Wake County]

“As we began to customize pathways with counselors, being able to connect with our MajorClarity customer success team was so helpful for moving us forward.”

- Vanessa Barnes, Dean of Students

Key Outcomes from Wake County Public Schools 

A major focus of the CCR Team was to build more internal CCR stakeholders. The focus on collaboration led to significant gains in staff engagement: over two years, schools quadrupled the number of staff users in the platform and almost tripled the number of activated student users in the platform.

Vanessa Barnes [Wake County]“Using MajorClarity helped us get data so that at different points in the year, we could see if the efforts we’re pushing out are being used.

As district administrators, we want to know if our investments in both time and resources are making a difference. To be able to get this data—to look at trends and see how users are engaging with MajorClarity—was huge.”

- Vanessa Barnes, Dean of Students


👉 Watch the full video replay 👈


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