Susan Brody, Teacher from United Federation of Teachers
* Retired Teacher
* Harry Van Arsdale HS Teacher Center
Susan Brody, a retired English teacher and a UFT Teacher Center coach, was a UFT member for 34 years. Susan, 72, died on Nov. 15 of COVID-19.
Susan spent her entire career in Brooklyn. She began teaching in 1969 at South Shore HS in Canarsie and, in 1981, transferred to Prospect Heights HS, where she worked for 10 years. Then she realized her dream of teaching teachers, working first at the UFT Teacher Center at Sarah J. Hale HS in Boerum Hill, and later at the UFT Teacher Center at Harry Van Arsdale HS in Williamsburg, before retiring in 2003.
Her enormous warmth, passion for her subject and intelligence enabled her to connect with students and colleagues at all the schools where she worked. After retiring, Susan worked at the Van Arsdale Teacher Center on F status. Harry Van Arsdale HS closed in 2007.
“Susan loved teaching, especially high school English,” said her husband, Joe Zarba, a retired photographer and photography teacher at MS 51 in Brooklyn. “She was an avid lover of the arts, including film, opera and museums and delighted in Shakespeare. She could recite Hamlet verse by verse,” he said, and shared her passion with her students.
When she transitioned to working for the UFT Teacher Center, Susan was a troubleshooter, sent to schools with the greatest needs because of her remarkable talent as a teacher and her interpersonal skills.
Longtime friend and UFT Teacher Center colleague Terry Mehrer said Susan’s “heart and head” were deeply involved in her work. “She felt for teachers and was always thinking of new ways to help them professionally. Whatever she felt, she put into action,” Mehrer said.
“She was a bubbly personality, always upbeat and a great team player,” Mehrer said. Apart from work, “We were lunch buddies, movie buddies, we went to museums and operas together,” Mehrer said. “She was always there to listen and give support, as I was for her.”
They spoke about the pandemic and how it was affecting students and teachers, Mehrer said. Just a week before she died, Susan sent Mehrer a birthday card with the message, “Good friends are like stars, you don’t always see them, but you know that they’re there.”
Susan’s newest passion was for Sicily, where she and her husband shared a home and many friends. “She strove for perfection in learning the language,” Zarba said, explaining that Italian has 14 tenses “and she was a stickler for getting everything correct. She was a perfectionist in everything she did.” He recalled that when they watched TV together, Susan often corrected the grammatical mistakes she heard.
“We will love you forever, our dearest Susu,” he said.
In addition to her husband, Susan is survived by a daughter, Gillian Ward, and her husband, Terry; son, Zachary Zarba, and his wife, Christiane; son, Sacha Zarba, and his wife Laura; grandchildren Jaxon, Jordan, Kyle, Max, Cole, Grey and London; and a brother, Robert Lieberman.
Condolences may be sent to:
Joseph Zarba and Family
75 Prospect Park West, Apt. 3A
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Gillian and Terry Ward
139 East Hill Street
Building 11, Apt. 41
Decatur, GA 30030
Robert Lieberman and Family
32 Old Framingham Road, #41
Sudbury, MA 01776