top of page

Brandi Bruley

Setting the PACE


“My ultimate goal is to make sure every kid reaches his or herpotential to the fullest.”

If you think about it, life is all about timing. Sometimes, the right thing comes along, but at the wrong time. But, if you learn to be patient and bide your time, the right thing will sometimes come back around, this time at the right time. Brandi Bruley knows all about this phenomenon. Her patience and perseverance put her in the Waverly Superintendent’s position at exactly the right time, for her and for the district.

Brandi had interviewed for the Superintendent position here in Waverly once before, several years ago. She was one of four candidates, and when the field was winnowed down to two, she was one of them. She was offered the position, but ultimately turned it down. She had small children at the time, and was happy where she was. “I had a really good principal gig where I was at, where I still got summers off,” she explains.

The timing just wasn’t right to make that move then, but she continued to watch and wait for another opportunity to come around at a more opportune time. Waverly was “kind of my boyfriend that got away,” she relates with a laugh.

And now, she and her husband are empty nesters. With no small children, summers off are not as important as they used to be. Principalship is far away in the rearview mirror, as she had spent the past three years as the Superintendent at New Holland-Middletown. And then, her old boyfriend became available again. Or, rather, the Waverly Superintendent position opened up. Right thing, right time.

Brandi grew up in Auburn, the daughter of parents who strongly believed that education was the key to a life free of financial worry. Not only did they believe that getting an education was essential, but they also valued and respected teaching as a profession, a combination almost guaranteed to lead young Brandi into that field. “My mother, when I was younger, said ‘you’d be a good teacher’,” she recalls.

She got her undergraduate degree at Illinois State University, before ultimately earning her Principalship Endorsement from the University of Illinois-Springfield. Her journey to an eventual Superintendent Endorsement was touched off by a good-natured professional rivalry with a friend and former colleague, when she was the Principal in Taylorville. One day, he informed her that he had begun taking Superintendent courses, and that lit her competitive fire. “I said, ‘Well, you’re not going to beat me’,” she recalls. Brandi became certified as a Superintendent in 2012, paving the way for her to take the reins here in Waverly.

“The good thing about this position is, you come in at a 20,000-foot view, and you look at the budget and at what you can do. When you want to start doing programs, you have that in your mind – ‘what can we do? We can do this, there’s a bit of cushion here…’ We can start doing some of these great things for kids, and that’s what’s exciting,” she enthuses.

One of those great things is a program known as PACE (Postsecondary and Career Explorations), which she has been working closely with the elementary and high school principals to implement in the district. Starting in sixth grade, the PACE program aims to help students plan out a path for themselves for life after high school, by providing them with a wealth of different experiences, and exposing them to a wide variety of career options. “We develop a plan, so that when you leave high school, you have a plan of what you want to do,” Brandi explains. “I want everyone to follow what they want to do,” she continues, “and our goal, to make you follow what you want to do, is to give you experiences and explorations that make you say, ‘You know what? I thought I wanted to do that, but here’s what I think I might lean toward.’”

PACE is a state-wide initiative, but districts are not required to participate. For Brandi and her team, however, it’s a no-brainer. “In my opinion, you should do it, because this is what’s good for kids. It’s not ‘one more thing we have we have to do’, this is one more thing we have to do that’s going to be hugely impactful,” she says.

Brandi’s educational philosophy is simple. She believes that all children, regardless of their background or ability, can learn and can be highly functional and productive. “My ultimate goal is to make sure every kid reaches his or her potential to the fullest,” she states. “You want students to be highly productive and come right back to the community to work.”

One career path that fewer and fewer young people have taken up as of late is the teaching profession, a trend that concerns Brandi. “I don’t think it’s being respected as it should, honestly,” she confides. “It is a noble profession, in my opinion,” she adds, with conviction. “We have to sell it to make sure everyone knows that there are fantastic things going on. It’s connections – it’s not just about textbooks and computers. It’s about camaraderie and relationship-building, and help and support. And just teaching you how to be a human.”

It’s clear that Brandi is passionate about this issue. The intensity in her voice as she speaks those words brings home the fact that the stakes could perhaps not be higher. After all, can society afford generations of children who don’t know how to be human? But, as dire as it may seem, Brandi is not giving up without a fight, and Waverly is ground-zero in her campaign to teach our children not to be just human, but to be compassionate, understanding, productive and happy humans.

bottom of page