Holy Angels art center named for beloved teacher Mary Brannan

BAY RIDGE — Mary Immaculata Brannan has devoted 40 years to teaching, so it’s especially fitting that Holy Angels Catholic Academy (formerly Our Lady of Angels) has named the school’s new art center in her honor.

Miss Mary, as her students call her, or Maki as she’s known by close friends and family, has been a kindergarten teacher in Bay Ridge since 1984, and was responsible for founding the school’s pre-K program in 1990. In fact, to this day, neighborhood parents say that they specifically enrolled their children at Holy Angels just so they could be in Brannan’s class.

 “Mary Brannan is someone who is very trusted and valued in our school and community,” Holy Angels Catholic Academy Principal Russell Berry told this paper. “It is an honor to have her be a part of our building for as long as it stands. She has practically taught everyone in Bay Ridge,” he added.

Brannan, along with her daughter-in-law Leigh Holliday Brannan, also teaches children at the Art Room at 8710 Third Avenue. “Her love of art and innate creativity and experience teaching art to our young artists from the day we opened the Art Room is a true asset to our program and curriculum,” said Leigh Brannan. “The Art Room is honored to have Mary’s guidance and experience.”

The children at Holy Angels Catholic Academy anxiously await ribbon cutting for the Mary Brannan Art Center.

Brannan was grateful for the recognition. “This is really a very special honor,” she told this paper. “Art has always been my passion and, as an early childhood educator, I have always known the wonderful impact art can have on young minds. Encouraging creativity from an early age is very important.”

Brannan continued, “I have been so blessed teaching generations of children in this neighborhood so to have this new art center named after me is really wonderful. I hope this special art center will serve to inspire many generations to come here at Holy Angels Academy.”

And no one is prouder of Brannan’s accomplishments than her son, City Councilmember Justin Brannan. “There are two things that have been a constant in my life since I was a kid: one is my mom being a teacher at Holy Angels and the other is art,” Justin Brannan told this paper. “So this makes a lot of sense. If nothing else, teaching is a labor of love and I know how much my mom loves teaching kids.”

He continued, “My mom is easily the most humble person I’ve ever known so it is nice to see her being recognized for her hard work and dedication to generations of children in Bay Ridge. I thank Principal Berry and all of my mom’s friends and colleagues at Holy Angels Catholic Academy for this very special honor for my mom.” 

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