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Student profile: Jade Braswell Osceola

jades graduationBy Emma Johns

BRIGHTON — Despite a long, challenging road, Jade Braswell Osceola proudly walked across the stage Dec. 18 to receive a bachelor’s degree in education from Indian River State College. Osceola, a Seminole history teacher at Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School, has pursued her college degree since graduating high school in 2004.

“Between working full time and having a child, I could only take one or two classes each semester. My progress was slow but steady,” she said.

Osceola began her career as a junior teacher during the summer culture programs at 15 years old. While there, she recognized her passion for teaching.

Upon graduating high school, she began working as an aide in the Seminole history class during Brighton Reservation’s Friday Pull-Out Program, in which Seminole students left Okeechobee schools for lessons in culture and language on the reservation once a week.

As an aide, she learned from historian Willie Johns and developed a passion for Seminole history and language. When the Pull-Out Program evolved into a charter school, Osceola joined the Culture staff in developing curriculum that would allow students to learn their culture daily.

“I feel like teaching is my calling. The challenge of getting inside a student’s head and helping to guide and direct them towards their own success is the true meaning of growth and teaching,” she said.

For seven years, Osceola has taught Seminole history to first- through eighth-graders at PECS.

“I can’t say that I chose teaching, but I can say that teaching chose me,” she said. “My grandfather, Stanlo Johns, is due all the credit for sparking my love for Seminole history. After working with the Pull-Out Program, I knew that teaching was something that I not only enjoyed but excelled at.”

Culture director Lorene Gopher has watched Osceola grow and develop as a teacher with a great passion for the Seminole culture.
“Jade and I took language classes together through Florida Gulf Coast University and she was very interested in learning the Seminole language and culture,” Gopher said. “She has been very easy to work with and dependable, always willing to do anything asked of her. I can truly say that I have taught her culturally just like my own daughter.”

In addition to her bachelor’s degree, Osceola also earned her certification in Exceptional Student Education (ESE) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

Osceola said she is thankful for the support of her husband, Joe; daughter, Jayleigh; and her boss and mentor Lorene Gopher.

“It does not matter how long it takes you to finish a race; it only matters that you finish,” she said. “Take pride in who you are and find out what you are good at and perfect your craft. You never know whom you might inspire or learn from along the way. Never give up.”