Sue Brulla is a special teacher. Her classroom is always bustling and busy with people trying their best to better themselves. It’s loud and hectic, but that learning style helps her many students learn and focus. She has the same desire to inspire her kids just as any teacher does. She wants to make sure that her kids are all taken care of and that they do their work. She wants them to try their hardest. The only difference between Brulla and any other teacher are the kids she teaches.
Special education is often overlooked and underappreciated by the casual observer, but it takes a skilled and patient teacher to work in special education. Brulla loves her kids, and learns from them every day. “Oh the kids definitely inspire me. Every teacher should say that, right? My colleagues and parents too,” Brulla said. Ms. Brulla is a mother, teacher, colleague, neighbor, and a friend. Her daughter, Alisa Isler, is a freshman this year and she’s excited that her mom is at the same school as her. “I love having my mom at school,” Isler said. “Because she drives me to school and is always nice [to me].”
Ms. Brulla loves working with her students. “My favorite part of teaching is probably all of the close connections I make with the kids,” she said. This is evident by watching her in the classroom and at home. She truly cares about what other people think and about their feelings. Although Brulla is kind; she is also firm. She makes sure that everyone in her classes do all of their work and are confident about what they’re learning. This is a great skill to have, as many teachers are either too nice or too strict. Brulla’s the perfect medium.
“I like Ms. Brulla because she’s really nice and a hard worker,” Isler’s friend, freshman Riley Gish comments about Brulla. “When I first met her, I immediately thought she was a really welcoming and nice person.“ Everyone loves her and enjoys having her in the school.
Brulla has an aunt and a sibling who have disabilities, so she’s always been involved with special needs. Since she grew up around it so she’s used to the challenge and hard work. “There is a lot of work to do outside of school, and paperwork too,” Brulla said. But Brulla is great at keeping up with the demands and is continuing to work in SPED (special education) at Tigard for her 25th year.
The hard work it takes Brulla to teach and have a daughter in full-time dance is extraordinary. She drives Isler to dance all the time and somehow she has time to fit everything in with the busy school schedule. Brulla is a great team player and her daughter loves her very much. “Something I want people to know about my mom is that she is a nice and hardworking person, and she cares about everyone,” Isler said. Balancing so many different things may be hard, but Brulla has been dealing with it just fine for 25 years. “Just make sure that you have a schedule. Sort out what’s the most important and get that stuff done first,” Brulla said. This is good advice, especially to high school students and teachers. “I didn’t decide on what I wanted to do until, oh, my second year of college? You have a lot of time to decide what you want to be, so don’t stress.” Brulla went through a master’s program and the basic four years of college that are required to get to where she is now. Her first job was in her high school’s cafeteria, back in Wisconsin.
Brulla has come a long way since her cafeteria job and is thankful for every step of the way. She’s thankful for her family, friends, co-workers, and job. She loves the students she works with and the whole Tigard community. She works hard to prove to people that kids with disabilities are just as special as typical kids, and that they’re worth the extra effort.
Brulla is happy to be making an impact on these SPED students. She thinks that they’re great and deserve as much love and attention as anyone. She wants people to know not to stare at them, not to make fun of them, not to pick on them. Just treat them like average students. They’re just like you and they want the same things–To be cool and popular and funny. Even though they might look or act a little different, they’re human too. Brulla wants the people of Tigard to remember one thing, “basically, for the most part, they’re just like everybody else, so you have to treat them like everybody else.”