2006.02.08: February 8, 2006: Headlines: COS - Kenya: Education: Family: The Times: Kenya RPCVs Bill and Shelley Brulottes dedicated their lives to family, education

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Kenya: The Peace Corps in Kenya: 2006.02.08: February 8, 2006: Headlines: COS - Kenya: Education: Family: The Times: Kenya RPCVs Bill and Shelley Brulottes dedicated their lives to family, education

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Kenya RPCVs Bill and Shelley Brulottes dedicated their lives to family, education

Kenya RPCVs Bill and Shelley Brulottes dedicated their lives to family, education

"This is our social life," said Shelley, who never thought she would be a mom. "I think I was too selfish," she said. But their time in Kenya changed her mind. "I saw those women raising children in amazing conditions and watched their children thrive. lt made me brave enough to want it."

Kenya RPCVs Bill and Shelley Brulottes dedicated their lives to family, education

A Day in the Life: Brulottes dedicated their lives to family, education

Feb 8, 2006

The Times-News, Twin Falls, Idaho,

Feb. 8--TWIN FALLS -- It's the call every working parent dreads.

The babysitter is sick.

Until the call came, the morning was going as planned. Shelley Brulotte had left the house at 4:30, headed for a spinning class at the gym. Bill Brulotte and 16-month-old Emma were up, preparing for the day.

Bill let out a heavy sigh as he hung up the phone and started figuring out how to rearrange the day.

By the time Shelley got home at 6:30, a plan was in place. She would stay with Emma until leaving for work at 9. Then Bill would take over until 1, when a family member could sit for a few hours until Bill got home. Shelley had to work late, so he and Emma would take dinner to her.

Bill is the principal at Perrine Elementary. He got to his office at 7. He met with a parent and student, and then touched base with a couple of teachers. The day before he had sent a child home with head-lice and she was back in school this morning. Was she safe to admit to the classroom?


"Parents in this community are great," Bill said. "This mother worked hard to take care of the problem so her daughter would not miss another day of school."

By 8:45, he had checked in with another student and called the district office before heading home so Shelley could get to work.

Simple Moments

It's the first day of classes at the College of Southern Idaho. Normally, if she needs to stay home with Emma, Shelley can get a message to her students via e-mail or on the school's Web site. But today, she needs to be at school.

Shelley teaches English at CSI. She said she greeted her students and collected writing samples, later putting in some office hours. Her long days are Monday and Wednesday, when she's at school from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. But the extra hours leave Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday open for family time.

Back at the house, Bill and Emma read "Wheels On The Bus," her favorite book. She goes down for a nap at 10:30. Just after noon she wakes up hungry. Spaghetti is on the menu n a toddler's favorite. "It's all over her face and she thinks it's the coolest thing in the world," Bill said.

It was moments like this that he was missing out on last fall. He was the principal at O'Leary Junior High, a job he loved, but too often it meant 12-hour days with students, parents and after-school activities.

"I'd leave when my child was in bed and come home and my child was in bed," he said. "It was very tough on my wife. This is not what I brought a child into this world for."

He requested a transfer and got it.

Multi-tasking by the minute

His life at Perrine Elementary is anything but sedentary. Aside from the administrative tasks of meetings and planning there is a constant stream of activity in his brightly colored corner office.

At 11 on a Friday morning he meets with two fifth-grade boys. They've been fighting. Parents have been called. He shakes their hands and escorts them to their classroom.

After calling the teacher into the hall he asked the boys to apologize to her for causing a problem and creating tension. He reminds them they've been friends for a long time and says he'd like for them to remain that way. He tells them to eat lunch together and talk it out.

Brulotte walks gently through the school, greeting students and staff. Once back in his office, he finds a student rummaging through a cardboard treasure chest. It's the treat box. The boy earned a 100 percent score on a paper and the right to choose two treats -- gift certificates to local restaurants or one of the pens or pencils Brulotte collects for rewards.

Once that student leaves, a substitute teacher stops in the principal's office. She's having trouble getting the students to settle down and asks for his help after lunch.

There is a call waiting and another family outside wanting his attention. On top of that, the school nurse wants to brainstorm about ways she can help at-risk families.

At no time does Brulotte show any signs of stress or impatience.

At 11:30, it's off to the lunchroom, where students stream through in an orderly manner. After they finish eating, they're to raise their hand and wait to be recognized. Only then can they get up, dump their trays and leave.

He sends them off to the playground in between hugs and high fives He is comfortable here, not imposing. He sees his job as a chance to spend six years or more with families. An opportunity to build a community and establish relationships.

These are values he learned growing up in American Falls, 75 miles east of Twin Falls. Those values were reinforced in Kenya, where the Brulottes served two years in the Peace Corps.

But there is a line he tries not to cross.

"Not being an enabler, but being supportive," he said. "Being in the Peace Corps with my wife, we learned you can't go in and just do everything for them. There has to be a buy in."

Family Time

After school there might be a meeting, but more often than not, Bill Brulotte heads home.

On Shelley's long days, Emma and Bill stop by her office to have dinner and say hello. But most nights, the family gathers in its quiet home for another round of "Wheels on the Bus" with Emma and catching up with each other.

Bill's favorite place to relax is in the kitchen. He says they don't cook anything fancy. They're on a soup kick right now.

They try things -- often cooking in bulk on the weekend, so there's plenty of easy meals during the week.

Emma is learning to feed herself, and she is busy all the time. Rearranging floor rugs. Unpacking her drawers. Tipping over speakers.

The Brulottes handle it calmly -- admitting to frustration when she unplugs the computer. But they watch her attentively. Lovingly.

"This is our social life," said Shelley, who never thought she would be a mom.

"I think I was too selfish," she said.

But their time in Kenya changed her mind.

"I saw those women raising children in amazing conditions and watched their children thrive. lt made me brave enough to want it."

She said she used to admonish students for not getting work down when their kids were sick.

"Now, I get it," Shelley said, kissing Emma.

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Story Source: The Times

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