Olivia Brammer used the Pathways at District One91 to try new things and set the course for her future, ultimately leading her back to Burnsville High School as a Special Education Teacher.
Finding the right path: How Olivia changed course from healthcare to education
When Olivia Brammer was a student at Burnsville High School (BHS), she was involved in a variety of activities and ready to start exploring career options. After taking some courses in the Healthcare Pathway and finding it wasn’t for her, Olivia tried education-focused courses the following year.
While students usually work with district elementary schools to help out and get hands-on experience, Olivia’s busy extracurricular schedule made those kinds of additional trips difficult. She ended up helping at the Functional Education for Successful Transition (FEST) program in the special education department at BHS. FEST classes help students with developmental and cognitive disabilities learn life skills, independent living skills, work-based learning, and functional academic skills like reading recipes, grocery store math, and more.
“I really fell in love with the program and quickly became friends with these students who were learning life skills and how to be independent,” said Olivia. “It was so different from other classroom experiences and it made me want to pursue a career in special education.”
Her experience in the classes in the Education Pathway led her to change her post high school plans. While originally planning to pursue a two-year degree, she changed course and looked for four-year college programs with licensure opportunities. After touring some schools with the Future Teachers of America group she had joined at BHS, she enrolled at Augsburg University, where she would graduate with a major in special education and a minor in political science.
“Having the opportunity to figure out what I wanted to do for free in high school was so instrumental and saved me time and money to make that decision before even starting college,” said Olivia. “The Pathways program really helps students establish early on what they like and don’t like and provides great support to establish their plans.”
After graduating, Olivia was looking for student teaching opportunities, which was tough because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She ended up at a familiar place – Burnsville High School – where she started as a student teacher, transitioned to being an educational assistant, and was eventually hired as a special education teacher in 2021. She now works with the FEST Program, teaching math and reading to students with increased needs, as well as teaching students independent living skills to prepare them for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage Transition (BEST) program which sees students transitioning more into being in the community and seeking employment.
“It really is good to be back and to continue some of the great relationships with staff from when I was a student,” said Olivia. “A huge thing in our school district is preparing students for the future and I am excited to be a part of that.”