It’s all about family for Lori Brubaker ’08 – her own family and her Kansas Wesleyan University family. Over the years, they have blended into one for Brubaker, an assistant professor of teacher education at the institution.
However, shortly after arriving on campus her freshman year at KWU in 2004, Brubaker wondered what the future held for her.
Just two days into the fall semester, she was involved in a serious car accident with some other students.
“Even after I was stable enough that my life wasn’t in danger, I was unable to use both of my hands,” she said.
Brubaker suffered a broken index finger on her left hand, which required multiple surgeries, and her right wrist was broken in two places.
“I couldn’t write,” Brubaker said. “After I went home for a couple weeks, I was like ‘I’ve got to go back to school.’”
Brubaker was determined to graduate with her class. After taking a semester off to heal, she returned to school, where the KWU family stepped in.
“Throughout the whole process, everyone here was phenomenal about facilitating my return to school,” Brubaker said. “On the academic side, my professors were helping me in any capacity whatsoever.”
Brubaker did indeed graduate with her class and received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in 2008. She went on to get her master’s degree in Instructional Technology from Fort Hays State University in 2017.
Brubaker, who started her third year on the KWU faculty this fall, had spent the previous eight years teaching in the Solomon school district.
When Brubaker learned of the opening at KWU, she jumped at the chance to come to a place she thinks of as home.
She wanted to spend more time with her two young sons. She wanted to put her master’s degree to good use at the collegiate level, passing on what she knew to future teachers. And the KWU family atmosphere was appealing.
“I knew it was a very loving and family-oriented place, so when I put all three of those things together, I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” Brubaker said. “What’s really awesome is I never thought I would be here this soon.”
Dr. Eileen St. John, chair of the Department of Teacher Education, thought Brubaker would be a perfect fit in the department.
“We believe in having an upbeat, positive department so that our students will be upbeat and positive in the classroom,” St. John said. “She is a very personable, upbeat teacher. That is what you need to have to teach students at this level.”
Brubaker’s passion for technology in a teaching environment is being passed on to the next generation of educators who graduate from KWU.
“Kansas Wesleyan is very cutting-edge,” Brubaker said. “They want to become marketable, set themselves apart.”
“We want our students to be utmost current on things,” she added. “We’re trying to create opportunities and partnerships for our students’ professional development before they’re actually out in the field.”
Brubaker graduated in 2004 from Thomas More Prep-Marian High School in Hays, where she played basketball for the Monarchs. She planned to play basketball at KWU, but the car accident derailed that plan. Wanting to still be involved with the sport, she coached junior high and high school basketball at Solomon.
Brubaker met her future husband, Bobby, also a 2008 KWU graduate, during her junior year in college.
You can still find the Brubaker family – Mom, Dad, 11-year-old Mason and 9-year-old Max – at home games.
After all, they are part of the Kansas Wesleyan family, so much so that Mason wanted to be a KWU football player for Halloween last year. Right on time, a coach and two players hand delivered Mason a Coyote uniform for trick-or-treating.
“We’re full-fledged purple and gold,” Brubaker said.
Story by Randy Gonzales