Though she originally aspired to become a counselor, Barbara L. Branch, EdD, pivoted toward teaching, having been drawn toward the field while striving to qualify for the former position. In the course of her academic efforts, she proceeded to receive a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from the University of California Davis, and an EdD from the University of Southern California. Eminently qualified in her field, Dr. Branch was likewise certified in administrative services and computer science.
Dr. Branch’s father was an officer in the U.S. Air Force and received a doctoral degree in education while serving in the military. Her mother, sister and grandmother all distinguished themselves as teachers as well. Throughout her career, Dr. Branch served in numerous teaching and administrative positions in California schools. She previously served as the executive director of the California Association for the Gifted and before working as an educational consultant.
As a dedicated education professional, Dr. Branch was most grateful to earn distinction as an expert in gifted education. She was also proud to continue her career as an elementary school principal, which afforded her the opportunity to become familiar with all of her students, while also serving to inspire her fellow teachers. For her efforts in education, Dr. Branch was named as the Teacher of the Year by the Sacramento City Unified School District and received the Albert Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award from Marquis Who’s Who.
What separated Dr. Branch from others was that she didn’t have a strong family, so she was able to put more time into others’ families. She was also hardworking, strict, but fair and had high standards for her students, as well as for her teachers. A memorable moment in Dr. Branch’s career was when some gifted sixth-grade students she was teaching wrote a book about her, saying that she gave them the gift of their minds. Today, she leaves behind a legacy of just that, someone who gave people the gift of their minds.
To remain aware of developments affecting her field, Dr. Branch maintained affiliation with the Northern California Mathematics Project, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the School Curriculum Development Association, the California School Administrators, the California Teachers Association, and the Mathematics Alliance for Access and Equity. She also previously attended Princeton University as a Woodrow Wilson fellow. In her spare time outside of work, Dr. Branch enjoyed such diversions as bicycling, swimming, genealogy and Neighborhood Watch.
The advice that Dr. Branch offered the next generation or others aspiring to work in her profession was to make sure that you do not want to make a lot of money; if it is not in your heart, do not do it. You have to want to work with students; it is a part of giving back and paying it forward. Therefore, it has to be a passion that you have for it. Some get involved and realize later that it is not something that they wanted to do or something that they should not have been doing.