Zanthia Reddish, Ed.D. and Orathia Bradley, Ed.D. are identical twins; not surprisingly, they share a few things in common. But the similarities between these two remarkable women take the concept of synchronicity to new—and uncanny—levels.
Though raised in a loving and supportive environment, their extraordinary paths could not have been predicted by the past. “Nothing in our familial history suggested we would achieve this kind of academic, personal and professional success,” said Bradley.
“We are anomalies,” said Reddish. “Though we always had a thirst for knowledge. We were always teachers.”
From the time they were youngsters, the twins “played school,” a game they enjoyed well into high school. At one point, Reddish said, “My mother thought something might be amiss! What 15-year-olds come home from school to teach their imaginary students?”
Not only was nothing amiss, things were going to evolve in ways no one could have foreseen.
Bradley and Reddish went on to earn associate degrees from Montgomery County Community College, then bachelor’s degrees in secondary education/English from Temple University. They each hold dual master’s degrees, in education and adult and continuing education, from Cheyney University. In 2010, they both obtained doctoral degrees in educational administration from Immaculata. Even their GPAs—4.0—are the same.
Reddish is principal of Woodland Elementary School, a role she has served in since joining the Methacton School District in 2003. Prior to that, Reddish served as acting principal of 16th and Haak Elementary School in the Reading School District. She began her career teaching English at Pottstown High School. She holds elementary and secondary principal certifications from Cheyney.
Bradley secured her first teaching position at the H.M. Phifer Middle School in Pennsauken, NJ. She went on to serve as supervisor of Secondary Curriculum for the Reading School District before taking her first assistant principal position with the Spring-Ford Area District. Bradley is now principal of Welsh Valley Middle School in the Lower Merion School District, a position she has held since July 2012.
At the beginning of the 2012 academic year, Woodland Elementary became the first in the Methacton District to receive the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) distinction as a “No Place For Hate” school, a designation also held by Welsh Valley Middle School.
Reddish and her husband, Robert, have two sons, Cameron, 13, and Aaron, 10. Bradley and her husband, Pastor Abu Bradley, have two children, Jordan, 12, and Saige, 9.
Bradley’s dissertation is dedicated to her son, an exceptional learner, who was her “personal cheerleader” as she worked through the program. “Jordan would come to where I sat reading and writing at the dining room table to check on me, bring me some water, to say ‘You can do it, Mom.’“ And though quite young, her daughter, too, took an interest in her mother’s educational experience. “We would talk about what I was doing and what it was like to be in college.”
Reddish, whose sons are gifted athletes, says, “I was the mom in the bleachers with my laptop, working on my dissertation while cheering for my children. It didn’t seem unusual at the time, and the benefit was that my children got to witness that work ethic.”
Reddish and Bradley credit their husbands with providing unconditional support as they pursued ambitious academic goals. “My husband is just a great guy,” said Bradley. “He made it so simple.”
Reddish’s husband, too, made sure she had the time and space to read, think and write. “He and the boys would go off and do something so I could have five or six hours to concentrate on my studies. It was such a blessing.”
Today, when Bradley and Reddish give educational presentations together, they make every effort to prevent people from “misinterpreting the journey.”
According to Bradley, “We had to work for everything, and we share that. It doesn’t matter where you started if you choose to move forward. A place like Immaculata offers that kind of empowerment.”
”I could apply what was being taught at IU every day in my work,” said Reddish. “It was a growth experience for me as an administrator. Immaculata’s program truly works for the working adult.”
For all the amazing parallels in their lives, perhaps the most striking thing about the “Immaculata Twins” is the radiance they exude; an irrepressible spirit of exuberance bubbles up and spills forth from them, the way light splashes on and illuminates whatever it touches.
“Everything we do is undergirded by our faith in God,” said Bradley. “We have the love and support of our families, and we have always had each other. We represent the power of education, and it is huge. Every chance I get, I talk about Immaculata. I talk about how education provides the light of vitality.”