Betrothed Braves: Married Teachers Have Unique Work-Life Balance
May 4, 2023
Socastee’s six teacher couples discuss how they met and what it’s like working together.
Mr. and Mrs. Chilson
NAME: Kelly and Patrick Chilson
YEARS MARRIED: 14 years
HOW MET: They met at a work Christmas party through co-workers.
The Chilsons enjoy working in the same building because they can support each other during the work day. Pros of working together include “being there to empathize and support each other during the day – and carpooling!” Also, “being on the same team at both home and at work, and knowing that I can talk to or see her anytime needed,” is also a plus, Mr. Chilson said.
Mr. Chilson believes “the pros far outweigh the cons” of their situation. Being on the same team at home and at work is important to them. It is fun ”to share common students and hear them compare our teaching styles and personalities, and hear them say how much they love my wife!” he said.
Mr. and Mrs. Urbaniak
NAME: Amanda and Robert Urbaniak
YEARS MARRIED: 11 years
HOW MET: They met at SHS while Mrs. Urbaniak was finishing her internship.
Mrs. Urbaniak is an English teacher and Mr. Urbaniak is the head guidance counselor. He said working together is not challenging and allows them to be more involved in one another’s lives. However, “we have our space and will sometimes go the entire day without seeing each other,” he said. He also said, “We never let home stuff interfere with work stuff.”
Mr. and Mrs. French
NAME: Kelly and Greg French
YEARS MARRIED: 22 years
HOW MET: While teaching together in Florence, students at their school decided they should meet.
Mr. French is a science teacher and Mrs. French is a art teacher at Socastee High. The Frenches enjoy having the same daily schedule and off days. “We have the same schedules and can vent about the same issues if needed,” Mr. French said, “and our yearbook photos are LEGENDARY!” (Coordinated photos have included Star Wars and Minion themes). The two also have gone on field trips together, including the senior trip to Disney World, which Mr. French coordinates. He said they only challenge is “she knows about all of the dumb things I do!”
Mr. and Mrs. Wilson
NAME: Amy and Danny Wilson
YEARS MARRIED: 24 years
HOW MET: They met while working at SHS. Mr. Wilson and Ms. Diven ( at the time) had neighboring classrooms and often talked and joked throughout the school day. In 1995, a student went to Mr. Wilson and said, “If you take Mrs. Diven out on a date, I’ll pay for it.” They got married in 1998.
Mr. and Mrs. Wilson enjoy working together and both say they’ve never seen it as a challenge. “We understand were both employees and we both are very punctual,” Mr. Wilson said. “We have a lot of the same values, so it works out great.” Mr. Wilson is the IB Coordinator and Mrs. Wilson teaches in the English Department. Mrs. Wilson said she likes that they’re on the same schedule and “knowing he is right down the hall if I need anything.” One of their favorite memories while working together was “watching their son graduate as a Brave in 2018,” Mrs. Wilson said.
Mr. Church and Mrs. Lehr
NAME: Cynthia Lehr and Jeffery Church
YEARS MARRIED: 13 years
HOW MET: Former principal Dr. Paul Browning hired both of us to the same school (SHS), same department (English) the same year (2008). We met at the HCS new-teacher orientation, held at AAST, in August. That morning, before our first session started, I recognized from his nametag that he also was just hired to SHS. I tried to talk to him, but he spoke very little and the conversation died. We may have gone to different sessions that morning, but at lunch, he came and sat by me and we conversed in more depth.
Mr. Church and Mrs. Lehr both teach English and often collaborate and perfect teaching strategies together. Their favorite things about working together are having the same vacation schedule and being able to support their children.
“When we first started dating, we tried to keep the relationship to ourselves,” Mrs. Lehr said. “Unbeknownst to us, a colleague in our department had seen us together at Brookgreen’s Night of 1000 Candles. Later in the spring, when we began to let others know, another colleague finally told us that everyone had known since we were spotted back in December. Busted!”
Mr. Church and Mrs. Lehr have different last names and don’t publicize their relationship. However, they used to have classrooms next to each other and ”one time, deep into the school year, a class of my students finally experienced the ‘Eureka!’ moment, and it was all I could do to keep a couple of them from storming next door to take a peek at ‘Ms. Lehr’s husband’!” Mrs. Lehr said.
They said an advantage to working together is that they’re on the same schedule, including their girls who get dropped off at Socastee after school. Also, “we can empathize with each other about professional woes and can advise each other as well,” Mrs. Lehr said.
Mr. Lehr said they bounce ideas off of each other.
“Since we teach the same subject, we collaborate and fine tune things off each other.”
Mr. and Mrs. Sauthoff
NAME: Jacqueline and Eric Sauthoff
YEARS MARRIED: 11 years
HOW MET: They met through mutual teaching friends.
Mrs. Sauthoff, who teaches Special Education, likes knowing that her husband “is always around to help [her]…whether its with technology, covering a duty, or just offering advice.”
She said one challenge is, “People say we have very different personalities.” Mrs. Sauthoff said her sister was a student in one of the first classes Mr. Sauthoff ever taught (before they were married). “When she found out I had met him, she told me I couldn’t talk to him because he was mean.” (The two are now good friends).
Mr. Sauthoff, who teaches social studies, said a challenge of working together is, “She has to hear complaints about me when I organize things which require assistance from staff, such as prom and graduation.” He said the two do not discuss work at home. “I have always had a clear separation between the two worlds, and sometimes that is frustrating for her, but she has come around, especially since we work at the same school now.”
Mrs. Sauthoff said she likes working with her husband because, “Over the years he has been able to build relationships with some of my most challenging students.”
Mr. Sauthoff likes that Mrs. Sauthoff pays attention to details: “She checks e-mails and I do not.”