UW-Stevens Point helps grad find her dream job in her hometown
Lainey Braun is looking forward to crossing
the stage at the Dec. 16 commencement ceremony at the University of
Wisconsin-Stevens Point, celebrating the hard work that went into earning her
degree in just three and a half years and a Chancellor’s Leadership Award.
But what excites her the most is waiting for
her in her hometown of Manitowoc – a classroom of her own.
A special education major, Braun will begin her
first full-time job as a special education teacher at Lincoln High School on
Jan. 21, 2018. Less than four years ago she was a senior at that same school.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to be,” she
said, recalling her frustration in choosing a major. One decision was easy,
however: She would attend UW-Stevens Point.
“After I visited the university, I knew that
whatever I wanted to be, I’d find it at Point,” she said. “There were so many
majors that if I’d changed my mind I knew I would find support there.”
During her senior year of high school, Braun volunteered
in the special education classroom at Lincoln. Her father pointed out how happy
and excited she was when she came home from school after working with students
with special needs. “You should be a teacher,” he told her.
“I never looked back,” she said. “As soon as
I applied to be an education major at UW-Stevens Point, I knew I was on the
Braun said she was impressed that she was
already in a classroom by her second semester at the university, working
closely with experienced teachers from many Stevens Point schools.
She also found those with common goals when
she joined the Student Wisconsin Education Association organization, now called
Aspiring Educators. The group takes part in education outreach programs in the
community and attends professional conferences. As the group’s public relations
coordinator, she honed communication and teamwork skills.
Through the Kappa Delta Pi education honor
society, she took part in mock interviews and principal panels to prepare for
the job search. She served on the Student Council for Exceptional Children and
the National Society of Leadership and Success on campus.
“I had so many hands-on experiences through
these organizations,” she said. “Those made a difference when I applied for my
teaching job because the interviewer knew I had experience being part of a
Braun also found mentors in her professors
and Maggie Beeber, her School of Education adviser. Beeber alerted her to a
plan to help her graduate in three and half years, with several high school advanced
placement credits and by taking a course during the January term.
“I was so excited to hear that,” she said.
“Maggie knew the coursework so well that I felt I was in really good hands.
UW-Stevens Point helped me get on my path as quickly and effectively as
When it came time
for her required student teaching experience, she knew she wanted to live at
home in Manitowoc. She was offered positions in nearby communities, but then learned
the special education teacher at Lincoln had been promoted
to a program support professional, which left an opening. She was offered the
job – as a paid intern for the first semester and as a full-time licensed
teacher for the second.
Braun said everyone at Lincoln treats the
graduate-turned-colleague with respect and as an equal. “I’m still getting used
to calling my former teachers by their first names,” she said. Her younger
brother is a senior, so she has enjoyed being at school with him.
Braun said she chose special education
because her students have a different outlook on life. “They appreciate the
little things and make the best out of every situation,” she said. She is
inspired by their strength in the face of mental or behavioral challenges, and
wants to support them any way she can so they can find jobs and success later
“Working with them means I am a teacher,
counselor, nurse, mom and listening ear, all wrapped into one,” she said. “This
job is absolutely the best.”
Braun is eager to get back to teaching after
graduation. “I’ve built a relationship with my students, so now I’ll have my
degree and I can really start to work on advising them and make my own name at
Lincoln as a teacher.”
She hopes to earn a master’s degree and become
an administrator someday. “That way I can help even more kids,” she said.