| Miss Katharine Branson |
Katharine Fleming Branson (1920-1951)
A woman of extraordinary energy and indomitable will, Miss Branson joined with the founders to develop a boarding school dedicated to traditional standards of excellence and with the clear purpose of preparing Branson girls to go off and “take an active and intelligent part” in the world around them. Presiding over the School nearly from its inception, as a patrician with an uncompromising demand for excellence Miss Branson brought a seriousness of purpose and a dignity that served as the animating themes of the school then known as The San Rafael School for Girls. A cum laude graduate of Bryn Mawr, Miss Branson led the renamed girls’ school for two years until it shed its confining and unfashionable location in downtown San Rafael for the rolling hills and serene valley in Fernhill Park in Ross. Miss Branson’s leadership spanned the early years of struggle, the tumultuous 1920s, the Great Depression, World War II, and the prosperity of the early postwar years. She assembled a faculty devoted to bringing the best out of students and shaping them into citizens with compassion and sensitivity, equipped to meet the challenges before them. Her stewardship took Branson from an inchoate idea to a secure, stable institution that maintained a clear pursuit of academic excellence and achieved national recognition as one of the West’s leading girls’ boarding schools. After her retirement to Carmel, and owing to her devotion to the School, Miss Branson would return in the fall of 1961 and serve as Acting Headmistress following the sudden illness of Miss Dorothy Clement, who had been appointed Acting Headmistress following the resignation of Mrs. Virginia Jennings that summer.
|Laura Elizabeth Branson (1920-1926)
Co-head of the school during its formative years in San Rafael and Ross, Laura arrived at Branson with her sister in the summer of 1920 after a short but distinguished career as Head of the Department of Mathematics at Rosemary Hall and teacher at the Shipley School. A cum laude graduate of Bryn Mawr like her older sister, Laura also taught both mathematics and science before her departure from Branson in 1926. Relocating to England, where she attended the London School of Economics, Laura would later return to the states and become a leading figure in New York City school reform alongside her husband, the noted educator and teachers’ union leader Henry Richardson Linville. Laura would serve as Executive Secretary of the NY Teachers’ Guild of the nascent American Federation of Teachers throughout the 1930s, while her husband Henry served as President of the new AFT.
| Raking leaves in the 1950s beneath Res Hall |