Braylon Lane used the Pathways at District 191 to kickstart his career, dive headfirst into college classes, and set his course at a young age
Braylon’s High-Speed Journey into Education
Talking to Braylon Lane, one begins to wonder if he has more hours in his day than the average person. He is not the average high school senior when it comes to a typical day, and he is certainly not the average high school senior when it comes to how many college credits he has earned.
Other than a few years living in Michigan, Braylon has spent all of his time in school in District 191, and he knew early on that teaching was something he wanted to do. “I knew I wanted to be a teacher at age six,” said Braylon. “I used to love pretending with smart boards and taking over the class any chance that I got.”
This passion for teaching was always there, but his dedication to his school work didn’t always match. “During my freshman year, I wasn’t all that focused on school and then COVID hit which made school even harder with remote learning,” said Braylon. “Thankfully the Pathways program is available to everyone, because deciding to take an Introduction to Education course was a turning point for me.”
Though he didn’t know it at first, the course he had selected was a dual enrollment course through the Burnsville High School (BHS) partnership with Normandale Community College, and was worth four college credit hours. Not one to back down from a challenge, Braylon stuck with it and immediately felt he was in the right place with the Education Pathway. He took summer courses at Normandale, and used the Post Secondary Enrollment Option (PESO) to complete as many college courses as he could throughout his 11th grade year while expanding his knowledge of education and serving as a student volunteer teacher as part of a work study course.
“I had a few part-time jobs including as a retail manager at the Mall of America, but I was also involved with the Black Student Union, Theater Club, Future Teachers of America Club, and did some other volunteering as well as working on music and other pursuits on the side,” said Braylon. “I was ready for a change and wanted to be fully involved in education.”
Thankfully, some chances for change came his way with a tutoring job being offered, quickly followed by outreach from Hidden Valley Elementary Principal Kristine Black, who after hearing about his desire to be a teacher, informed Braylon of an open position at the school for a behavioral support assistant. He jumped at the chance and now works full time at the school, while also taking 16 credits at Normandale via asynchronous classes and still participating in a variety of activities at BHS including musicals, and other groups.
At Hidden Valley Elementary, Braylon took and passed the paraprofessional test, and serves as a teaching assistant for third grade classrooms half of the day and as the behavioral support assistant the other part of the day. He works with school counselors and social workers and assists in de-escalating emotional behavioral issues, equipping students with the best learning environments for them.
“The Pathways program at BHS set the tone for my life and really inspired me to work as an educator,” said Braylon. “I have gotten such great support throughout high school and this program really set the course for me to work towards my goals. It got me this job where I get to work with great students, and it allowed me to save thousands of dollars on college courses.”
Braylon will graduate from BHS with his classmates in June of 2022, and then, just two months later, will walk across the stage at Normandale Community College with an associate degree. He plans to complete his bachelor’s degree using hybrid courses at the University of Minnesota, and will pursue his master's via online classes at Howard University where he will focus on teaching English and acting.
“My goal is to be a fully licensed teacher by the 2023-24 school year and I know I want to continue to work with kids and to serve this school district and this community,” said Braylon. “I don’t know where I would be had I not taken that initial education course, but the Pathways at BHS have really allowed me to work towards my goals.”
The timeline for his plans are shorter than others pursuing those same goals, but for Braylon, that’s nothing new.