Spark • Fuel • Blaze
Discover One91 Trailblazers
With 14 distinct Pathways, students are invited on a joyful journey of self-discovery from the first sparks of wonder as young learners, through the discoveries that fuel their academic exploration, to being equipped with the tools they need to blaze their own path, no matter what life throws their way. Check out District 191 student and alumni journeys below.
Tyrese's Journey to Advertising, Marketing and Communications
Tyrese begins attending school at District 191 and is involved in music.
Tyrese looks for new ways to use communication and business.
Tyrese takes on lots of activities including working with Burnsville Strong, volunteering, and staying involved with music.
After years of shrugging off suggestions to join DECA, Tyrese tries it out his senior year and finds he loves it. The team heads to California for nationals.
Tyrese graduates from BHS and enrolls at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities where he majors in Strategic Communication through the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Already working at a major advertising agency, Tyrese hopes to find ways to get involved in education and give his real life experience back to students who can learn from it.
Tyrese Leverty used his passion for business, education and communication to apply himself in a variety of activities, resulting in his pathway to a fulfilling career with making an impact as the driving force.
Tyrese was always a motivated student. After moving around throughout his childhood, he landed at District 191 in seventh grade and immediately got involved with a variety of activities, most of which involved music. Starting as a percussionist in fourth grade, and continuing throughout middle school, he learned about things like communication, teamwork and problem solving through playing music with others. “I realized that it’s more about how I am making people feel than just hitting a drum or making a sound. That really translated into my love for communication,” said Tyrese.
He also spent time volunteering and participating in community service, all while making sure he got as close to perfect scores as possible on assignments and tests. An interest in business set him on a course to find his place within the broad industry. “I had taken a couple of business classes based on my own interest, but I fell in love with it because of the teachers who had worked in the industry and used their experience to drive the lessons to provide real examples,” said Tyrese. “Ms. Malone helped to introduce me to DECA my senior year, though I had previously shrugged it off, but I really enjoyed it and we even went to the national competition in California that year. It showed me the thrill of solving problems and creating solutions to new challenges.”
Taking classes in the Arts, Global Communications and Information Systems career field at BHS made Tyrese feel valued as an individual with lots of opportunities to learn about what his future could look like. He was introduced to mentors in business and marketing, and through DECA, gained valuable skills that would guide his next steps.
He now works for a major advertising agency in the Twin Cities, Carmichael Lynch, where he helps companies to create brands that are purposeful and impactful, while also teaching drumline at BHS, volunteering with a variety of organizations, and finding ways to use his communication skills to lift up other voices.
Braylon's High-Speed Journey into Education
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.
Other than a few years living in Michigan, Braylon has spent all of his time in school in District 191, and he knew long ago that teaching was something he would pursue. “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. Braylon immediately felt he was in the right place with the Education Pathway. He took summer courses at Normandale at a discounted rate since he was still in high school, and then used the Post Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) to complete as many 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.
Braylon was alerted to an open position at Hidden Valley Elementary School for a Behavioral Support Assistant and he jumped at the chance and now works full time at the school. He took and passed the Paraprofessional Test, and now 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.
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 degree utilizing 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.”
Braylon knows he wants to be a teacher someday.
Braylon starts at BHS, but school isn’t a top priority for him yet.
With distance learning as the only option, Braylon decides to try something new and opts to try out some of the Education Pathway course options. His first class is also a dual enrollment course that will result in four college credits. Braylon takes to it immediately.
Braylon starts working at Hidden Valley Elementary School while continuing to use asynchronous classes to earn 16 college credits, meet his qualifications for high school graduation, and be able to have his associate degree by August 2022.
2023-24 School Year – Braylon hopes to be a fully licensed teacher with the goal of continuing to serve students in District 191.
Oriana's Journey from Venezuela to Burnsville and a Future in Computer Science
Oriana Penaloza was new to the United States and while learning English at BHS, she used the Pathways at District One91 to learn another language that set the tone for her future in computer science.
Oriana’s family came to the United States from Venezuela when she was in high school. She started at BHS in the ESL program learning English and a variety of other subjects at the same time. “I came to this country when I was a sophomore. It was challenging to me as I had to learn a new language and all of the new systems that I didn’t know about,” said Oriana. She decided to use the Pathways program to try a few new things and had interests in a variety of subjects including healthcare and computers. One class in particular really started her on her path towards a new passion.
“I took a Java class as an elective that I thought sounded fun, and I just fell in love with coding,” said Oriana. “We did a lot of group projects and everything was very hands-on. We made a tic-tac-toe project and it was so fun to create an actual game and see people playing and testing it.” The Java class convinced Oriana that the healthcare field was not for her and got her very interested in computer science.
After graduating from BHS, Oriana earned a full ride scholarship to Concordia College in Moorhead via the Act Six Scholarship, where she is studying computer science with minors in business and data analytics. She wants to find a job in computer science that would allow her to work from anywhere, including from home and while traveling the world. The Pathways at BHS showed her some of the possibilities that are available to someone with programming skills.
Oriana’s family moves from Venezuela to Minnesota. She enrolls in the ESL program at BHS.
Oriana explores different classes in the Pathways program and immediately falls in love with coding while taking a Java class.
Oriana graduates from BHS with a full ride scholarship to Concordia College to study computer science.
Oriana declares a computer science major with minors in business and data analytics. She finds she has an advantage thanks to the skills she learned in coding classes taken at BHS.
Justin’s Journey into Journalism
It is fair to say that Justin Amaker has a nose for news.
As a fifth and sixth grade student at Rahn Elementary, Justin was involved in the “Rahn TV3 News,” a daily show where students would share daily announcements with the entire school. “That started the spark of getting into news,” Justin said. And the spark happened again as a student at Burnsville High School and the opportunity to take courses in the Arts, Global Communications and Information Systems pathway. He was part of the school’s TV production class and helped produce a weekly news show where he wrote scripts, served as on-camera talent and worked behind the scenes. His pathway into the news business continued in his journalism class, which led to his involvement in the school’s newspaper and yearbook.
Justin continues to follow his nose for news at the University of St. Thomas where he is pursuing a Communications and Journalism degree. At St. Thomas starting in September 2021, he will serve as the director of Tommie Media, a student-run news organization, and will supervise a 60-member team. There is no doubt that Justin’s journalism talents will continue to be shared with the world. And it all started at “Rahn TV3 News.”
Justin becomes interested in news and journalism through his involvement in the “Rahn TV3 News.”
Justin’s interest in journalism is reignited when he enrolls in the TV Production class. Along with time as an on-camera talent, he also writes scripts and works behind the scenes on the weekly news show.
Justin enrolls in a journalism course at Burnsville High School, which leads to more experience on the school’s newspaper and yearbook.
Justin signs on as an intern in the communications department for Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191. The internship provides him with more writing experience and sells him on pursuing a major in journalism.
Justin enters his senior year at the University of St. Thomas and is on track to earn a degree in Communications and Journalism. He will also serve as the director of Tommie Media, a student-run news organization. His vision is to pursue a career in journalism.
Finding the Right Path: How Olivia Changed Course from Healthcare to Education
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.
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 starting in the Healthcare Pathway and finding it wasn’t for her, Olivia tried some education-focused courses the following year. “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. 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.
“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. After touring some schools with the Future Teachers of America group she had joined at school, she enrolled at Augsburg University, where she would graduate with a major in special education and a minor in political science.
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. “It really is good to be back and to continue some of the great relationships with staff from when I was a student and to be able to help students set their own pathways for their future.”
Olivia gets to participate in the new Pathways program at District One91 and starts working towards the Healthcare Pathway.
Olivia decides that healthcare isn’t for her and tries out some education courses. Due to having lots of extracurricular activities, she ends up working with the Burnsville High School FEST program and makes immediate connections with staff and students. “I loved the program and how these students were learning life skills and how to be independent.”
Olivia graduates from Burnsville High School and starts at Augsburg University, majoring in special education with a minor in political science. “I took summer classes so I could speed the process along. My time spent in the Future Teachers of America club was so influential for me and my future career.”
The COVID-19 pandemic makes finding a student teaching position difficult, but after reaching out to Burnsville High School, she begins student teaching and then transitions to being an educational assistant while awaiting licensure, ultimately being hired as a full-time special education teacher in December. “A huge thing in our school district is preparing students for the future and I am excited to be a part of that,” says Olivia.
Osman's Journey into Architecture
"It's been a roller coaster of projects" is how Osman Warfa describes his interest in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field.
He is particularly interested in aerospace engineering and architecture and his interest began as a third grade student when he participated in his first science fair at Gideon Pond. “I can remember my elementary science classes, which were taught by Mrs. Rau,” Osman recalled. “Her way of teaching us was hands-on and it was one of my first real experiences conducting observations in the name of science,” he added. Osman found success in many ways and also points to his “failed builds” as learning opportunities. Osman noted that when something does not work out the way he intended, he is able to deconstruct the problem to find different ways to approach it. His interest in science continued through middle school into Burnsville High School where took engineering courses as part of the Design, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies pathway. Osman graduated from Burnsville High School in spring 2021 and will enroll in the University of Minnesota to study architecture.
Osman participates in his first science fair at Gideon Pond Elementary in third grade and gets hooked on the STEM field. His project is focused on the solar system.
Osman loves his science classes at Gideon Pond taught by Mrs. Rau. He recalls the power of hands-on learning and scientific observation, including one assignment where he was asked to observe what he saw in the school’s butterfly garden.
In 6th grade, Osman discovers his interest in art and art history through exposure to a variety of different art styles. “Learning the history of art, and more importantly, respecting that history, will always be an interest of mine along with my interests in the STEM field,” Osman notes. He continues to pursue his interest in art and art history.
Osman finds his civil engineering course to be particularly interesting because it is another opportunity to work with his hands on various projects.
Osman represents Burnsville High School and the state of Minnesota at the International Science and Engineering Fair in 10th grade. He is one of more than 2,000 student scientists from 15 countries to participate in the week-long event. His experiment focuses on the stability of varied winglets, which are devices on the tip of an airplane wing. Curious to learn more? Google “stability of varied winglets” and Osman’s description of his experiment will be one of the first to appear in the list.
Jenna Kay's Journey to NASA
Jenna Kay Foertsch understands - and appreciates - the time and hard work her teachers in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District 191 dedicated to her learning.
“I had a few teachers that really stood out to me and all of them in different subject areas,” Jenna Kay said. “Some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned were not from lessons during class but from the chats I had with teachers after class while asking for advice,” Jenna Kay noted. She was not a student who excelled in a particular subject, but she felt a spark – because of her teachers – in STEM-related courses. It was the Burnsville High School robotics team that made a difference. “Joining the robotics team changed the trajectory of both my career and my life,” Jenna Kay said. “The high school robotics team was a perfect blend of STEM, business, communications, outreach and education – where my sweet spot lies. Through robotics, I discovered a network and community that led to my love for both space and NASA,” Jenna Kay added. She is a 2015 graduate of Burnsville High School and completed her degree at the University of Minnesota. She is now working in her “dream job” at NASA in the Planning, Integration and Environmental Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Jenna Kay also serves as a mentor to high school robotics team through FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) and has served as a mentor for a Burnsville High School team.
Jenna Kay’s interest in STEM-related courses is sparked at Burnsville High School with the help of several teachers.
Jenna Kay joins the robotics team at Burnsville High School.
“I remember watching kids walking into the basement of my school. At that time, I had just quit volleyball because I was injured. I was devastated that I didn’t have something to stimulate me or do after school. So I walked down into the basement and was instantly hooked by the chaos. I pretty much lived in that basement for the rest of my high school career.”
Jenna Kay discovers her love for NASA. “I got into NASA not because I was a ‘genius’ or ‘rocket scientist,’ but because I am curious and like to solve problems,” she noted.
Jenna Kay started the first of five internships at NASA. She worked in data analytics and visualization in center operations, technology transfer in the exploration technology office and the public affairs office.
Jenna Kay begins her full-time employment at NASA in the Planning, Integration and Environmental Office
Arykah's journey to discovering her interest in neuroscience
A career test in the Success One91 course at Burnsville High School ignited Arykah Jones’ interest in the human brain and neuroscience.
“Taking the test led me in the right direction of finding something I would be good at and passionate about instead of wandering aimlessly,” Arykah said. She is interested in becoming a neuroscientist because she enjoys research and wants to learn more about human behavior. The Health Care pathway at Burnsville opened Arykah up to opportunities that she did not know that existed. Arykah will be a senior at Burnsville during the 2021-2022 school year and plans to take a psychology course and other related health care courses. She is also serving as the president of the school’s Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) club. “As the president, I hope to have more fun events where students can learn about the options the healthcare offers,” Arykah noted. “I want to broaden people’s minds on what they can do besides becoming a doctor or nurse when they think of healthcare.”
Arykah completes the career test in Success One 191 course, which starts her interest in neuroscience and other healthcare careers.
Arykah attended “Camp Neuro,” a neuroscience camp where she learned basic biology along with the anatomy of the brain and diseases that affect the brain.
Along with her courses, Arykah will serve as the president of Burnsville’s Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) club.
Arykah is planning to enroll in a psychology course along with other healthcare courses to prepare her for college.
Arykah is planning to attend the University of Minnesota to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology and then a Master’s degree in neuroscience.