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If Republic Steel had remained open, Bruce Brozynski might never have come to Parker Junior High School.

Brozynski is retiring this spring after 16 years as assistant principal at Parker. His 27 years in education started after his first career – in accounting – came to a close when Republic, on Chicago’s Southeast Side, shut down in 1987. Brozynski, who grew up close to the steel mill, worked there as an accountant and a yard boss.

“I had already done some grade school coaching when the mill closed,” he said. “Someone suggested I go back to school to get teaching credentials and that’s what I did.” He taught theology and business at St. Francis de Sales in Chicago for five years, then, after receiving an administrative certificate, served as assistant principal at Maria High School in Chicago for six years. He came to Parker in 2000.

At Parker, Brozynski has performed numerous tasks – he is the school’s athletic director, master scheduler and helps maintain discipline. He largely operates behind the scenes, and  works hard so that the junior high – which has more than 900 students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades – runs smoothly, said  Bruce Nieminski, Parker’s other assistant principal for the last three years.

“Bruce always takes time to make sure everything is working well,” Nieminski said. “He always goes the extra mile to assist staff with what they need. Everyone knows it’s a pleasure to work with him.”

Nieminski was assistant principal at Western Avenue School before moving to Parker. Before that he was a teacher. Brozynski mentored him when he made the transition from the classroom to administrative duties, he said. During the past year, Brozynski has been teaching his colleague the ins and outs of scheduling, which Nieminski is taking over. 

“We had a good relationship even when I was a teacher,” Nieminski said. “Our friendship has grown since we started working together.” They share a love of sports, especially Chicago teams.

Brozynski coached softball at de Sales. He has had a long career as a basketball official and softball umpire. He has refereed the girls state high school basketball championship and umpired college softball games in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

His plans after retirement are no more specific than “to do whatever I want whenever I want to do it.”

He says he will miss “the students, the teachers and the friendships I have made.”


This story first appeared in the May 2016 edition of the Chronicle.

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