Ray High School’s career and college counselor Lynn Hartnett was recognized as a recipient for the 2021 College Board Counselor Recognition Program.
Over 370 counselors in the nation that are lifelong learners, collaborators, advocates and committed to student access were chosen for the program, with 53 in Texas. Hartnett, who is set to retire in June, was the only one in Nueces County to be recognized.
“It’s especially special this year because I’m ending my career,” Hartnett said. “It’s lovely to be honored.”
Hartnett started her career with Corpus Christi ISD in 1999 at King High School where she spent three years teaching English and coaching cheerleaders. In 2001, she heard Ray was opening a dance class. Hartnett ran to meet the principal because she said dance is her true background.
“I’m just an old ballerina,” Hartnett said. “I started dancing at age 3 and have loved it forever. In high school, I left Corpus and danced, very briefly, in Arlington, Texas as a baby ballerina for the Fort Worth Ballet. It didn’t last long. I wasn’t very good.”
Hartnett attended University of Texas and auditioned for theballroom dance team. She competed and specialized in samba and rumba.
Working with students in the dance program made Hartnett happy. She said watching her dancers mature and strengthen was a humbling experience.
In 2009, Hartnett was told the former career and college counselor was leaving. She ran to the principal and asked to apply for the position.
“I’m a late-life teacher,” Hartnett said. “When I was about getting my teacher certification, I had a wonderful advisor ask me what am I going to do later. I said maybe I could be a counselor later on. She told me I had some classes I could use toward that but I’d have to go back to school right now.”
Hartnett knew it would be difficult because she was a single mother at the time and coaching cheerleaders. Her advisor told her she didn’t want to have to retake courses later in life, so Hartnett agreed and started night classes and received her counseling certification.
“I held on to it for nine years,” Hartnett said. “I told myself someday I’d be a counselor. I had been dancing up until my late 40s, I didn’t know how much longer I could go on. I wasn’t scared to leap, but I was scared to land.”
Hartnett received the counseling job and never looked back. She said she loves the process and understands how special the job is to direct students on their path to success. She hopes to leave a strong program that will carry on smoothly with the new counselor.
William Davis, CCISD’s advanced academics specialist, was the one who nominated Hartnett for the program. A former career counselor at Veterans Memorial, Davis said she had several students admitted to Ivy League schools, qualify for International Baccalaureate Diplomas and receive scholarship and award offers.
“Although these are wonderful things and wonderful successes, the most important part of Lynn’s influence on her school is that she has empowered and prepared her students to take on the world after high school,” Davis said. “She ensures that her students have everything they need to achieve everything they dream.”
Hartnett and her husband, a firefighter, are both retiring this year. They’re building a house in the Woodlands where they will live their new life full of golfing, knitting and spending time with family.
“It is terrifying, but it feels right,” Hartnett said. “I know it’s time.”
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