GARY — A year after Gary teenager Raven Osborne earned her bachelor's degree before obtaining her high school diploma and garnering renown across the country, she has embarked on a teaching career.

Last year when Osborne was an 18-year-old senior at 21st Century Charter School in Gary, she earned a bachelor's degree in sociology with a minor in early childhood education from Purdue University Northwest in Hammond May 5, several days before she earned her high school diploma from the charter school.

At that time, PNW officials said, few, if any, of her classmates or professors knew she was studying her way through college and high school simultaneously.

By the time a CBS camera crew left campus in April 2017 after shooting footage of Osborne studying in the library and attending a college class, her impending accomplishment was widely known.

Osborne was hired this year at a $38,000 salary to be a reading/math interventionist at her alma mater, 21st Century Charter School in Gary.

Osborne, now 19, works with small groups of children — some who need help in reading or math, and others who are above grade level and need reading and math exercises that will challenge them.

Osborne works with students in first through fifth grade in 21st Century Charter School's elementary building, which houses kindergarten through sixth grade.

"I love it, but in the beginning it was extremely challenging," said Osborne, who is still soft-spoken.

"At 18, I didn't know much about how to manage student behavior," she said. "I knew how to put together a lesson plan and how the intervention system works.

"I had one student who went several weeks calling me 'Ms. Ugly,' and I'd just laugh it off. I had another student, a second-grader, who threw an apple at me. The apple did not hit me and he came up and I thought he was going to apologize, but he picked up the apple and ate it. That was the first week of school, and it didn't happen again. I've learned not to take anything personally," she said.

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What lies ahead

Despite some of the ups and downs that all teachers face, Osborne said she loves her chosen field and looks forward to a career at the charter school. She also said her fellow teachers and school administrators have been great to work with and have helped her along the way.

Osborne said she took a year off from college after earning her baccalaureate degree at Purdue but plans to enroll in Indiana Teachers of Tomorrow in the fall to earn her Indiana teaching license. Established in 2005, the program allows teachers to earn a teaching license online.

According to its website, on successful completion of the program during the first year of teaching, the candidate is required to teach for one additional year to satisfy the time requirement. After the second year of teaching, the candidate is considered fully licensed to teach in the state of Indiana.

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After that, Osborne said she plans to enroll at Indiana University Northwest to earn her master's degree. She said she sees herself working with students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

"I really enjoy working with the younger children," she said with a smile.

"I'm able to develop good relationships with them. I like what I'm doing right now but eventually, I'd like to move into my own classroom. Being an interventionist is helping me to determine where I want to be and what grade I want to teach.

"I don't think I need to be at the high school level. I'm too close to their age for them to listen to me," she said, laughing.

Kindergarten teacher Deborah Williams said she first met Osborne when she was a high school freshman.

"She was an astute student and very focused coming through school," Williams said. "I completely understood how she was able to get her bachelor's degree along with her high school diploma. She is phenomenal."

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Southlake County Reporter

Carmen is an award-winning journalist who has worked at The Times newspaper for 20 years. Before that she also had stints at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., The Post-Tribune and The News Dispatch in Michigan City.