College CounselORS

What's at the core of DA's college counseling program? Relationships. Co-Directors of College Counseling Kathy Cleaver and Jazmin Garcia Smith truly get to know each student — and help students get to better know themselves — with a goal of helping each student to find their perfect-fit college or university.

Kathy Cleaver

"I believe that I have the best job at Durham Academy! Every day, I work with students as they imagine and dream about the next chapter of their educational journey. I enjoy learning as much as I can about colleges, and then designing tailor-made college lists to match each student’s individual strengths and interests. It’s incredibly rewarding to witness the final product of a moral, happy and productive Durham Academy education!"

Co-Director of College Counseling Kathy Cleaver recently marked a quarter-century as a Durham Academy college counselor, having joined the school community in 1992; read thank-you notes from a sampling of the more than 2,300 students she has helped guide to their “perfect-fit college” here. 

A graduate of the State University of New York at Albany, Cleaver earned an M.Ed. from UNC-Chapel Hill. Prior to her decades of work at Durham Academy, Cleaver worked in college admissions for five years, including work at Duke University and Southern Methodist University. 

Her ties to Durham Academy are deep and meaningful. She is married to DA’s assistant baseball coach, Larry Cleaver, and the mother of two DA “lifers," Caitlin '10 and Shannon '12.

Jazmin Garcia Smith

"I am grateful to have the opportunity to build relationships with students and families and to be able to guide them through the admissions process. There is no better feeling than when a student comes running into my office crying in excitement that they’ve gotten into college!"

Co-Director of College Counseling Jazmin Garcia Smith joined Durham Academy’s college counseling program in 2015.

She graduated from the University of Notre Dame, where she was president of the senior class, and earned a J.D. from DePaul University College of Law. Prior to her work with high school students at DA, Garcia Smith worked on the other side of college admissions for 12 years — first as an admissions counselor at Notre Dame, as an admissions representative for DePaul University’s College of Law, and then at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she served as senior assistant director of admissions and chaired UNC-CH’s Latina/o Faculty and Staff Caucus.

In addition to her college counseling duties at DA, Garcia Smith has served as an Upper School diversity coordinator. Garcia Smith and her husband, Matthew, have two children. The oldest is a student in DA’s Preschool and the youngest hopes to join the Cavalier family next year. 

An independent, coeducational day school, pre-kindergarten through grade 12.
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