Cary High School has a new principal

snagem@newsobserver.comAugust 10, 2013 

Nolan Bryant

  • About Jacob “Nolan” Bryant

    Age: 41

    Residence: Apex

    Family: Wife Jennifer and three sons, ages 11, 9 and 4

    Education: Earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from N.C. State University

    Work history: Taught science at Athens Drive High School for four years; also taught at Davis Drive Middle, where he completed his administration internship; spent two years as assistant principal at Morrisville Elementary; worked as principal at Jeffreys Grove Elementary for three years; has been principal at Dillard Drive Middle since 2009

— When the principal job at Cary High School opened up this summer, Jacob “Nolan” Bryant saw his chance.

The veteran educator was looking to get back to the high school level, and his family has ties to Cary.

When the school year begins later this month, Bryant will be at the helm of Cary High. The Wake County school board announced the appointment last week.

Bryant, 41, grew up in western North Carolina and attended N.C. State University through the N.C. Teaching Fellows program.

But he almost got out of the education field for good.

A return to the classroom: After college, Bryant got a job teaching science at Athens Drive High School, where he also coached boys’ tennis and girls’ basketball.

He got married and figured he should earn more money for his young family. So he spent a year working as a scientist for a company in Research Triangle Park.

It didn’t take long, though, for him to miss the classroom.

“So many people think the grass is greener because there’s more money,” Bryant said. “But really there’s no better profession (than teaching).”

On his way to the principal’s office: Once he returned to Wake County schools, Bryant earned a master’s degree in school administration. He worked at several schools along the way and has been principal at Dillard Drive Middle School since 2009.

Students giving back: Bryant said he places an emphasis on service-based learning.

At Dillard Drive, he said, hundreds of students would gather in the gymnasium to pack meals for Stop Hunger Now, a program that ships meals around the world.

“I think that kids and teenagers really feel better about themselves when they’re doing something good for someone else,” he said.

Honoring traditions: Students and parents shouldn’t expect major changes right away under Bryant’s leadership. He said getting to know the people and traditions of Cary High is first on his to-do list.

He was surprised to hear of potential plans to demolish the water tower near Cary High that honors the local senior class every year.

“You can’t take away a tradition for our students that’s been around for that long without expecting them to be upset about it,” he said.

Back to high school: Bryant has worked with kids from kindergarten through 12th grade, and he said he’s happy to get back to high school.

“They’re really starting to hone in on what they want to do, what they want to be,” Bryant said.

And he added with a laugh: “It gives me a chance, too, to persuade as many as possible to go to N.C. State.”

Central office? He’ll pass: Bryant said he has no plans to follow in the steps of Doug Thilman, who served as principal of Cary High for six years before accepting a job in June as Wake schools’ assistant superintendent for human resources.

“At this point, I just have no desire to work in central office,” Bryant said. “The kids are where the action is.”

Nagem: 919-829-2605; Twitter: @BySarahNagem

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