When Kie Kemper was earning her bachelor’s degree in education at SPC, she took a class on how to teach math to elementary school students. Her instructor, Dr. Bruce Brodney, kept referring to the “gazinta symbol”. Kemper said she and the entire class were stumped, and couldn’t answer when he asked if anyone knew what it was.
“He made a big deal out of it,” Kemper said. “He said, ‘Oh, my goodness! You don’t know the Gazinta sign by now? You’re in college – you should know!’”
Eventually, he revealed that the mysterious symbol was the bar used when doing long division.
“He explained that he called it that because ‘this number GAZINTA (goes into) this number this amount of times’. It was a total dad joke, but he got such a kick out of it that we all laughed with him.”
Brodney, a beloved SPC College of Education Professor for 16 years, passed away unexpectedly in his sleep on Feb. 27. He was 66.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in Social Studies from Tulane University, Brodney earned another bachelor’s in Elementary Education from the University of South Florida. He went on to get his master’s degree from USF in Educational Leadership, then a PhD in Elementary Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Brodney taught second-fifth grades in the Pinellas County Schools for 24 years. He also served as a reading specialist, a Title I coach and assistant principal before joining the faculty at SPC in 2003.
Brodney was known for taking a real interest in his students’ success, as well as making learning a fun endeavor. Kemper graduated in 2017 and is
now the English Department Team Leader and teaches language arts at Coral Academy of Science in Las Vegas. She said he taught her how to understand the minds of students and how to accommodate them through the learning process. She heard about Dr. Brodney’s passing at a moment when she was doing something else he taught her: caring.
“It’s crazy,” she said. I found out right as I was in the middle of telling my students how much I care about them. I truly believe that Dr. Brodney made it a priority to teach us how to make a difference for each and every student we encounter. I feel like the baton has been passed, and it’s our turn to make a difference the way he did for all of us.”
Former student Olivia Huff, who now teaches fourth grade at Sanderlin Elementary in St. Petersburg, said she’s sure all of Brodney’s students feel the same way about him.
“He was such a fun and warm professor,” Huff said. “He was a real person – not just someone who taught us.”
According to his colleague, SPC Education Professor Dr. Nancy Watkins, Brodney had an especially close relationship with his family. After hoping for a baby for a long time, he and his wife, Sandra, finally had a son, Sean, who is now in his second year at Georgia Tech as a mechanical engineering major.
“They were so close,” Watkins said. “It was just the three of them, and they are all not only brilliant, but they are a family of integrity and strong moral character.”
Sandra, who has been with Pinellas County Schools for 36 years, also adjuncts with SPC and has done some consulting work for the college. Watkins said they often shared students.
‘Sandy would take many of Bruce’s pre-service teachers as intern and practicum students in her classroom,” she said. “If you got the double dose of Brodney for your teacher prep program, you were the luckiest student on campus.”
Students, friends and colleagues have contributed to a Facebook memorial page containing numerous photos, memories and sayings that bring Brodney to mind.
A memorial service is planned for this Saturday, March 23, 2019, from 10-2 p.m. at The Palladium Theater, 253 5th Avenue N, St. Petersburg. Friends are invited to arrive at 10 to talk and contribute to a memory book for the family. The service will follow, then a reception will be held in the Stavros Great Room downstairs.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donation be made to The Bruce F. Brodney Education Scholarship Fund, which will benefit future educators, through SPC’s Foundation.
If you would like to donate in Dr. Brodney’s memory, please make checks payable to the St. Petersburg College Foundation, and include “Dr. Bruce Brodney” in the memo. Mail to P.O. Box 13489, St. Petersburg, FL 33733-3489. Online donations can be made at foundation.spcollege.edu/giving,where you will choose “other” from the Designation Drop Down Menu and type in “Dr. Bruce Brodney”.