Maisha Bradley, 42, of South Philadelphia, a Philadelphia teacher and mother, died at home Friday, Nov. 3, of an asthma attack that led to cardiac arrest.
Mrs. Bradley was for 14 years a teacher in the Philadelphia School District, at Cleveland Elementary and most recently at Meredith Elementary in Queen Village.
She was born in the city and educated at McCall Elementary and Lutheran Christian Academy. She earned degrees in business and education at Temple University and Lincoln University.
Tiffani Casurra met Mrs. Bradley during their freshman year at Temple and was immediately struck by Mrs. Bradley's warmth.
"She would give her last dollar, all she had, to her family and friends," said Casurra, a friend for 25 years. "She was there for everybody, no matter what, even at a young age. Everyone wanted to be her friend — she kept all her friends from elementary school. She was loyal, and everyone loved her."
When Maisha Williams was in her early 20s, she met Reginald Troy Bradley at a friend's party. The two had an instant connection.
"We were looking for each other," Troy Bradley said. "Then, it was 20 years married and three kids."
Their children were Mateen, now a student at the University of Maryland; Samiah, 15; and Yazid, 6. All attended or attend Meredith, and Mrs. Bradley loved to spend time with them, going to her son's baseball games and bragging about her daughter.
The only thing Troy Bradley and his wife argued about, he said, was the hours she spent at school. She got there early, and stayed late — the night before her death, she didn't leave until 6:30 p.m., said Lauren Overton, the school's principal.
"She was one of the most phenomenal teachers in the building," said Overton, who worked with Mrs. Bradley for two years as principal and three years as a teacher. "Her classroom was one you were always happy to visit. There was a buzz — she connected with all of her students."
Children going through troubles at home or at school were especially drawn to Mrs. Bradley. Overton said she learned this week that Mrs. Bradley had quietly met with one struggling student every morning. He would come to her classroom, and she would help him finish his homework.
And she held an after-school homework club that was the best attended at Meredith, Overton said. She called it "Bradley's Bunch."
"She was lighthearted and joyful," said Overton. "There was nothing harsh about her. She never said a bad thing about a child."
Rob Hamm, a colleague at Meredith, said that even in large classrooms, with more than 30 children with different learning styles, Mrs. Bradley managed to reach everyone. That was especially evident with a student in her class last year.
"No teacher could get this student to write," said Hamm. "But Maisha could. I don't know what her magic was — by the end of the year, this student was writing full-page stories."
Leslie Patterson-Tyler said she felt lucky that both of her daughters were assigned to Mrs. Bradley's classroom.
"I told her, 'I can't thank you enough for taking care of my children,'" said Patterson-Tyler. "She said, 'Mrs. Tyler, I do this for all of my children.' She made every child feel as if they were the most important person in the class."
Everyone wanted to be in Mrs. Bradley's classes, Patterson-Tyler said.
"She was called to be a teacher; it was in her DNA," said Patterson-Tyler.
In addition to her work as a teacher, Mrs. Bradley ran the summer program at the Marian Anderson Rec Center in South Philadelphia, where she met hundreds more children.
Mrs. Bradley loved fashion, and loved to dance — she always organized the school's teachers to do some kind of performance at school dances. She brought levity into the Meredith faculty room — she loved practical jokes, and she cherished her work family, who gathered monthly outside of school for card games and birthday dinners.
In addition to her husband and children, she is survived by her mother, Christine Williams, and other relatives.