April 18, 1946 – January 5, 2012
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Martha Garland Brodrick, 65, passed away on January 5, 2012 after a 14-week battle with cancer. Mrs. Brodrick taught, influenced, mentored, and impacted thousands of students and adults during more than 33 years as an educator and leader in communities from Massachusetts to Georgia. Martha was the second of eight children born to Ray and Phoebe Garland in the mountains of Mitchell County, N.C. At age 18, she graduated from high school and left home for Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, N.C., determined to become an educator.
She worked her way through college, earning an associate's degree at Warren Wilson and her Bachelor's degree from Berea College (Berea, Ky.). While at Berea, she married Joel Brodrick. During and after his deployment in Vietnam, she taught in four states.
Joel and Martha and their two sons (Brian and Kevin) relocated to Lawrenceville, Ga. in 1980. Martha began work as a teacher at Sugar Hill Elementary School in Sugar Hill, Ga. In 1985, she was named Gwinnett County Teacher of the Year. She was one of 13 semi-finalists (from 112 applicants) for state teacher of the year and was also one of three recipients of the statewide Atlanta Journal-Constitution Honor Teacher Award.
During the 1980s, she began considering careers in administration, earning her Master's degree and Specialist of Education degree. After relocating to Watkinsville in 1986 and teaching for two years at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary, she was named Instructional Lead Teacher at County Line Elementary in Barrow County. In 1990, she was named the first principal of Morgan County Elementary School. Within six years, the school was named a Georgia School of Excellence.
In 1996, she became principal at Colham Ferry Elementary School in Watkinsville, where she reinvigorated an aging building and established an identity for Oconee County's second elementary school. During her 11 years as Principal, she transformed the campus and created a school unlike any other in the community.
In 2007, she retired from Colham Ferry and led the Aspiring Leaders program for the Oconee County Schools. In this role, she coached current and future leaders within the system and also served as interim principal at Malcolm Bridge Middle School and Oconee County Middle School. She continued in this role until just a few weeks ago. She also advised other school leaders and systems in the region through various roles with Northeast Georgia RESA.
Throughout her career in education, she helped transform the lives of countless students, teachers, administrators, and parents with an expectation of excellence tempered by the compassion born of humble roots. She always thought of children first, but was a fierce advocate for her beloved teachers and a trusted advisor for leaders of the Oconee County School System. Mrs. Brodrick was beloved by all who knew her.
Martha was also active with her church. A member of Watkinsville First United Methodist Church, she was chair of the board of trustees from 2009 – 2011, where she was involved with the construction of Grace Hall. She has taught Sunday School for more than two decades, valuing her time with the Seekers Class. In Gwinnett County, she helped revitalize McKendree United Methodist Church in the mid-1980s.
She spent 44 wonderful years with her husband Joel. Their sons and daughters-in-law are Brian and Susan Brodrick, of Watkinsville, and Kevin and Katy Brodrick, of Athens. She treasured her time with sister and best friend Anna McKuhen, who also resides in Watkinsville with husband Eddie, as well as her mother, Phoebe Garland of
Buladean, N.C. She dearly loved her six grandchildren: Samantha McCall (8), Phoebe Elizabeth (8), Robert McKnight ""Bo"" (5), Aaron McRee (4), Rebecca Wells (2), and Baylen Scott-Moore (1). She also enjoyed a special relationship with nieces Carrie McCann and Brandy Stockton.
Other surviving siblings are brothers Brad (Phyllis) Garland, of Blackwater, Va., Guy (Betsy) Garland, of Unicoi, Tenn., and Phillip (Debie) Garland, of Burnsville, N.C., and sister, Rosella (Roy) Yelton, of Bakersville, N.C. She was predeceased by brothers Charles and Robert.
The family asks that contributions in her honor be made to either the Watkinsville First United Methodist Church building fund or to the fine arts program at Colham Ferry Elementary School, care of Oconee County Schools.
Arrangements are being handled by Lord and Stephens, WEST. Visitation will be from 5 – 8 p.m. on Sunday, January 8, 2012. The funeral will be at 1 p.m. on January 9 at Watkinsville First United Methodist Church, followed by a private interment at Johnson United Methodist Church cemetery. www.lordandstephens.com
Published in Athens Banner-Herald on Jan. 7, 2012