How Wake County Public Schools Expanded their CCR Team


Vanessa Barnes is the Senior Administrator for Secondary Counseling at Wake County Public Schools—a North Carolina district that serves more than 160,000 students. 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 School System (WCPSS) has been driving more resources towards career and college readiness—including staff. Reporting to two different departments, School Counselors and Career Development Coordinators both played a critical role in supporting students but have to work intentionally to avoid operating in silos.

Noting the similarities in their overarching goals, Vanessa saw the opportunity to share best practices and promote CCR with a single voice at Wake County.

To guide co-planning, WCPSS launched a CCR Team with a single overall goal: support all Wake County students for a successful transition into post-secondary education, training, or employment.


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Shared Challenges

After years of working separately, creating alignment was the first priority. As they compared notes, they identified a number of common challenges to achieving a singular CCR voice:

  1. Schools had built their own unique career readiness programs, resulting in different CDP processes
  2. With more than 190 schools at WCPSS, being an expert on every school during grade transitions was an impossible task.
  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 career exploration into one place. 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 or delegated 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, WCPSS 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 providing pre-built lesson plans and clear timelines, Wake County counselors were able to get comfortable then creative—partnering with their CDC peers to ensure CCR fit with collective goals.

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Vanessa Barnes [Wake County]

“One of our goals has always been alignment in middle and high school so that students already have an idea of how career development plays into their 4-year plan as they’re selecting courses.”
- Vanessa Barnes, Senior Administrator for Secondary Counseling


To support individual counselors and CDCs, WCPSS 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, Senior Administrator for Secondary Counseling


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 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, Senior Administrator for Secondary Counseling

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, Senior Administrator for Secondary Counseling


👉 Watch the full video replay 👈


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