Faculty Love Stories

Originally published in the winter 2015 edition of The Pillar, Athenian’s student newspaper

by Priya Canzius ’16

You may not know it, but there are currently eight untold faculty love stories just waiting to be revealed!

Lisa Haney and Mark Friedman (P= Priya, M= Mark, L= Lisa):


P: How did you meet?

L: We were both working at an international youth program in Virginia; he was the world’s global studies programmer, and I was the English as a second language teacher. One of the things about this camp and this program is that there were kids there from all over the world, and everybody had to sign a statement that said ‘I will not seek exclusive relationships with anyone.’ And, that’s so that the parents from more conservative countries can feel comfortable sending their kids to these [places] where American kids [are]. So both of us signed that, too; all of the adults had to sign it. You know how at camps sometimes there are summer romances? We couldn’t have a summer romance because of [what we had signed]. But we were kind of watching each other, looking at each other at the corner of our eye… At the end of camp we were all leaving in a van, and Mark said to me ‘Lisa, do you want to drive down with me in my car?’ And I said, ‘Oh, I kind of do… But I already paid money and should go with the guys in the van.’ Then about ten minutes later, he drove up his car and he looked at me and said, ‘Lisa, what do I have to say to have you drive in the car with me?’ And I said, ‘Ok, that’s good enough! I’ll drive with you!’ So we fell in love in Washington DC and then we had a long distance relationship [for a year] because I was coming back to the Bay Area and he was living in Boston, but we got together after that! He moved out to the Bay Area, and we’ve been together ever since!

P: Was it love at first sight?

M: I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight; Lisa came mid-summer and when she arrived, I was actually in DC taking four students from around the world to explore DC. So I came back to the program, and the evening program was late. So, everyone was standing, milling around- I think for about an hour- waiting for this program to start. And, most of us had been there for a month, but Lisa had only been there for a couple of days; she was new. And what struck me was how Lisa seemed to be the most connected person there even though she was the most recent arrival. That seemed remarkable; I noticed her right away.

P: Where was your first date?

M: Our relationship developed in the context of living together in this program, so there was a little lounge where the adult employees could eat popcorn and hang out after the participants went to bed and things like that. It was an interesting way to have our relationship develop because we were sort of living and working together, and it sort of developed in that context as opposed to one of us asking the other out on a date.

P: What’s the funniest date you’ve ever been on?

L: I could not even tell you, because I’ve been on so many amazing, fun, dates with Mark. He’s such a good planner and he’s so thoughtful that we get along so well and like so many of the same things. Every time we go out it’s just really fun. [However, for Mark’s] birthday, I planned a trip to Alcatraz Island to see the artwork of Ai Wei Wei, a wonderful Chinese artist.  We walked from the Ferry to Green’s Restaurant- a great Vegetarian restaurant-also overlooking the water.  We met a dear friend there who also had a birthday around the same time, and had a great evening.

P: Favorite couple memory?

L: Honestly, the birth of our child; I wasn’t drugged out or anything, so I was very present and he was very present; it was a beautiful moment for the two of us.

P: Most embarrassing couple story?

M: I’ll share an embarrassing story from [the beginning of our relationship]. We were up in DC, and we were sitting on the front steps of the house of this person. And we were talking about the summer and we were talking about ‘well, if you were going to be involved with anyone at camp, who would it be?’ And so I asked Lisa, and she gave the name of some other guy. Then Lisa asked me, and I said, ‘well, it would’ve been you!’ And she said, ‘I meant to say you! I was going to say you!’

P: How did you get engaged?

It’s kind of interesting because a lot of people get engaged and get married and then decide to have children together, and that was a big discussion for us, whether we wanted to have children or not. Once we made that decision, we decided to get married. There wasn’t one of those moments of Mark on his knee with an engagement ring; it was very practical, in some ways. We knew we loved each other, we knew we wanted to be together. Interestingly, at the time, gay marriage still wasn’t legal, and we decided that we would have just a commitment ceremony to be in solidarity with our gay and lesbian friends who couldn’t get married. But then, all of our friends said, ‘you’re crazy! Get married; you can, so do it!’ So we actually had a wedding ceremony.

P: What’s the best thing about working together and what’s the worst thing about working together?

M: We don’t really work together; if we worked together we would drive each other batty. Or, at least I would drive her batty; she’s more graceful than I am. There are lots of advantages to working at the same place: [commuting] takes a half an hour each direction, so there’s time to talk or reflect about the day, our vacation schedules are identical, there’s lots of shared information and experience. And, we even get to lead international trips together.

L: The hardest thing is that sometimes it’s just all work all the time. We don’t shut off the spigot in terms of talking about work… It doesn’t really bother him, talking about work, but for me, I need a little bit of more down time… I think it’s just because work sort of encroaches into our whole life. But because for [both of us, our jobs are] not just a job- it’s connected to our values and to who we are as human beings- that it seems natural, in some ways.

P: How did you both start working at Athenian?

L: I started working here before him; I heard about the job… And he was working in San Francisco at the volunteer center. I took a year off when my daughter was four, and a [community service position opened up]. I decided to come back to Athenian, and [Mark became] a community service director, and he took over the parenting position because he was part time… I had already been working here about seven years before he started. I started in 1991 and he started working in 200 or 2001.

Amy Wintermeyer and Bobby Henshel:


P: How did you meet?

We met teaching at The Archer School for Girls, a 6-12 independent girls’ school in Los Angeles.

P: Was it love at first sight?

Hard to say… we were friends first and started dating after we had known each other for 3 ½ years. But we both admitted to liking each other at various points before we officially started dating.

P: Where was your first date?

Divino’s, a nice Italian restaurant in Los Angeles

P: What’s the funniest date you’ve ever been on?

When we were spotted by some of our students while we were out for frozen yogurt. We had been trying to keep it quiet at school and our secret was out after that!

P: Favorite couple memory?

Cheering on Stephen Curry in Las Vegas during March Madness back when he was playing for Davidson.

P: Most embarrassing couple story?

We try to stay away from those kinds of things.

P: How did you get engaged?

Bobby proposed when we were in Palm Springs visiting his family for Thanksgiving.

P: What’s the best thing about working together? The worst thing?

It’s great to have the same schedule and work calendar and to see your spouse in a professional atmosphere. The challenge is that it’s easy to talk about work all of the time, but we’ve learned to work around that. It helps that we started out as work colleagues!

Nancy Nagramada and Charlie Raymond: (P= Priya, N= Nancy, C= Charlie)


P: How did you meet?

N: Here at Athenian, [as] teachers. When we “met”, met was when I started working here back in 2003, but we weren’t going out.

P: Was it love at first sight?

N: Ha! No.

P: Where was your first date?

N: You could argue that we started dating [when] we were teaching 8th grade; but it wasn’t really dating, we were just working a lot together.

C: We started dating in Rome!

N: Sure, Rome. But then you have to be like-

P: -Why were you in Rome?

N: See? (laughs) And then you have more questions!

N: Why were we in Rome? We both were teaching seventh grade, and neither of us had been to Rome and there was an opportunity to do some study there.

C: I wanted to do professional development (PD) in the Mediterranean, and I learned that she wanted to do PD in the Mediterranean somewhere else. So we said, ‘lets try to find a class that we can take together somewhere because we’re both teaching the same group’.

N: For the record, the school did not pay for us to go to Rome, they paid for the class!

C: … Nobody knew after that for a long time; It was not public [knowledge].

P: What did you do on your first date?

N: I don’t even consider that; I consider the mundane; …He’d be working and I’d come over with coffee, and then [we’d be] hanging out. And that’s not an official date, but-

C: Actually, as Middle School faculty, we all supported each other like that, so it’s not separate from our collegial group. A lot of us worked together very strongly in those years: we were starting new programs, we were pushing [new curriculum]-

N: …And we were communicating all summer; deciding what texts [the students should read] and while we were apart, we were communicating… A lot of our stories are centered around work.

P: What’s the funniest date you’ve ever been on?

N: Relatively recently, [we went on the] the catamaran that went under the Golden Gate; we’ve both lived here our whole lives and had never been under the Golden Gate… It was actually in honor of our anniversary. It was really cool, being out on the Bay.

C: For the longest time we’d go to hear Bulgarian music in Berkeley, which is not funny, but really cool.

N: That was our routine on New Year’s Eve; go to dinner and then go hear a crazy band. [But] a lot of our regular dates [involve] going to the theater.

P: Favorite couple memory?

N: Oh, I think it has to be around the kids.

C: I mean, any moment from Milo’s first year beats everything else-

N: As a couple; we had our families come together and that was really good, and the kids handled that really well. But I think that when you add Milo into the mix, it was such a clear link for Sidney, Sam, and Sebastian. And Milo was so pleasant from the get-go; pretty much anything that kid does is hilarious.

P: Most embarrassing couple story?

C: We have so many because we’ve both been Middle School teachers for so long; by definition to be a Middle School teacher you have to set aside your sense of dignity!

N: [My most embarrassing story] is being Popeye and Olive Oyl [while being] pregnant with Milo. Halloween couple costumes are hilarious to us.

C: The best one was Jack and Jill! …We had already fallen down the hill.

N: We’d walk around yelling, ‘you pushed me!’ ‘I did not!’ Anytime we walked out we had to act like [we were mad at each other].

C: We were dragging a bucket at our ankles [from the well].

P: How did you get engaged?

N: He proposed on my birthday! My birthday is in January, so there was no school. It was nothing associated with school.

P: What’s the best thing about working together? The worst thing?

N: (laughs) The best thing is that you get to see each other all the time and the worst thing is you get to see each other all the time! No, you have to ask ‘what is the best thing about working together and living together.

C: And the answer to both questions is togetherness! (laughs)

N: Obviously, it’s so easy to have family life flow into school life and it’s really positive for our family, but because we teach similar things, and we can cover for each other- well, I can cover for him- really well. Being a family here, it’s just like, different generations of things; when alum come back, they’re like oh my god, is that Sebastian?’ because they knew him when he was Milo’s age. I think that the hard part about being together and being on campus is you can’t have an argument and then walk out and go to class. It’s very difficult and you have to compartmentalize your brain.

C: And to add to that, you have kids on campus and kids in the classroom. It adds to the totalizing feeling of being a married couple with family embedded into the community.

Leah Webb and Ted Webb (L= Leah, T= Ted, P= Priya)


P: How did you meet?

L: We met because [Ted] was already teaching at Athenian and had been for a year, and I got hired. But when we first worked together with the Middle School, almost all teachers were full-time; there were a lot less teachers… But he taught eighth grade and I taught sixth and seventh grade. So I never saw him-

T: Until-

L: Until I asked you if I could do your interim and you said no. I had never talked to him, and I said, ‘I heard you have a surf interim, could I do that with you?’ and he said, ‘I already have a partner.’

P: Was it Sven?

T: In my defense, she was so beautiful that I had to play it cool. All of the other guys wanted to ask her out; I had to be aloof. I couldn’t be overly eager.

L: That’s how we met. Well, the real way it happened was that I was living over on the peninsula, and it took an hour to commute and get here. I’d be worried that I’d get caught in traffic, so I’d always leave very early and I would get here at 7 or 7:15 and sit in the faculty room and do work. Ted showed up one day and said ‘I work out every morning,’ so then he started coming in every morning, and it was probably October or November when every morning we would talk for an hour before class. Before we even went on a date, we talked for like three months for an hour every morning.

P: Where was your first date?

T: Well, we were supposed to go on a date after Open House, and Leah stood me up.

L: Actually, [Ted] stood me up, but we won’t [go into that]. But, I did not stand you up. Not one human being agrees with you on this. He said, ‘let’s go out this weekend,’ so wouldn’t you assume–since he asked me–that he would call or leave a note or something. So at that point, I checked my work voicemail, checked my email, I checked my mailbox, and mycell phone and there were no messages. So I’m like, ‘obviously he asked me out, but it’s just casual.’

T: But our real first date happened after a faculty meeting; we went to dinner and went to see a movie.

P: What movie?

L: Beautiful Mind.

P: What’s the funniest date you’ve ever been on?

L: [Ted] took me to the beach to look at the tidal pools, and I thought [he] wanted to hold my hand or look at the sunset, but he kept going, ‘look at the sea urchin!’ or ‘look at the sea cucumber!’ He was not paying attention to me at all! He was all into looking at the tidal pools; as a science teacher, I appreciate it and I should be excited, but this was the guy I liked; I thought he was going to be like, ‘look at the beautiful sunset in your eyes’. But no.

T: We ran into April Smock’s husband one time [when we were on a date]. We thought that our cover was blown, but he seemed fine with it.

L: We would do all of our dates down in Palo Alto, Menlo Park or in Fremont because we didn’t want to run into anybody.

P: Favorite couple memory?

T: So many!

L: We do have so many; how do we limit it?

T: What about when you broke your arm when you were eight months pregnant?

L: That’s not your favorite; that’s the worst! Going to South Africa, that was awesome-

T: -Or the time when we told the school we were engaged and they didn’t believe us.

L: That’s true, they didn’t. They thought it was a fake diamond ring, and they wanted me to cut glass with it to prove that it was real.

T: And then in Morning Meeting, I went in and said, ‘we’re getting engaged!’ and I thought that there would be applause; dead silence.

L: No one said a word! It was super awkward. We thought it was going to be cute, and it was super awkward.

P: How did you get engaged?

L: It was before school started, so it was [during] faculty meetings in August. I was in a super grumpy mood, and Ted [was] in his classroom, which [was] classroom L. I was in a grumpy mood because [he] wasn’t around; I was moving around, I was moving apartments, and I would call him and he wouldn’t answer. I was just super frustrated with him. And I came in the classroom and he was there sitting on his desk, and I was just really annoyed. And he walks over, and he gets on his knee and says ‘will you marry me?’ I say, ‘stop kidding!’ and he goes, ‘look down’, and I look down and he has the ring. And then I start crying so hard stuff comes out of my nose, it was super embarrassing… And so he gives me the ring, and he let’s me wear it, and then he goes, ‘wait, we can’t tell any of the teachers yet because we haven’t told our families. So you have to take the ring off’. So I got to wear it for like 10 seconds. All the students say that he proposed in classroom L because it stands for love, but the reason that it was cute was that he had bought the ring that morning, and he was supposed to have a big dinner kind of thing, but he said that he saw me, and couldn’t wait another minute to ask me to marry him, so he just asked me right then.

T: Another good Athenian connection is that Sven married us.

L: He was our officiant.

P: What’s the best thing about working together and the worst thing?

T: First off, there is no worst thing in my mind. I think that the best thing

L: The worst thing is because we’ve worked together for so long, everywhere he goes he runs into people he knows so it always takes him an hour to get anywhere.

T: Another thing is that our entire relationship has been in the time that we’ve worked here; we’ve never not been together or not taught together. [When you tell people that you work with your spouse,] a lot of people say ‘oh, that’s just too much! I couldn’t do that’. It makes me sad; working here without working with Leah would be less-

L: It’s fun, because we know teachers here, we know students. It’s cool when we hear good things about y’all, and we both know who we’re talking about. Because of our grades, we almost always teach every kid…

T: Teaching … with Leah is so much more rewarding, because it is all encompassing.

Phoebe Dameron and Jason Hamm (Ph= Phoebe, J=Jason, P= Priya)


P: How did you meet?

Ph: I was running adult programs for UC Berkeley and his friend Jennifer was running youth programs [for UC Berkeley]. I wanted to run a program for our guides, but I couldn’t anyone qualified to run it with me, and so Jennifer recommended Jason. Jason came out and I told him my vision for what [the program] would look like, and he left and came back the next day with the vision complete, basically. He did all the legwork for creating a curriculum our reader for the course and plans, which we then filled the details of. I think he brought bread and yogurt to eat, which I’d never had in combination before, so it was interesting to me. We ran this course together and we had a person who attended the course who was very ill right from the beginning of the course. So we got as far as San Jose leaving from Berkeley, and had to deposit her to a brother that lived down there because she was too sick to continue. Subsequently, Jason got violently ill in the same way and I got violently ill during this three-day backpacking Wilderness First Aid program we were running. But, the cool thing this [was that it was a] Wilderness First Aid field-based course, so everyone had gotten their Wilderness First Aid certifications… We were giving them scenarios to do in the wilderness to properly educate people, and at the very end, I was in the way back because I was sick and this person came running back saying ‘Phoebe, Phoebe, there’s been an incident!’ and Jason and I had said we were done with all of our scenarios, so I was really [annoyed] with him and was thinking, ‘why is he doing another scenario? I’m not in the mood to do another scenario. I’m sick, I don’t want to hear this right now!’[However,] it turns out that there was a real incident involving other people- not from our course- of a woman rolling a long ways down a very steep hill and being wrapped around a tree with broken ribs and possible spinal concerns. All of our 10 participants were there assisting and doing all the right things and helping the paramedics extricate her. It was really sad for this woman, but really perfect for the end of our course!

P: Was it love at first sight?

J: I think that it was interest at first sight, because I still lived in Texas full-time, and she lived in California full-time. It took a while to really pursue a relationship; I moved to California and worked temporarily over a summer, and that’s when we started dating. Then, I moved back to Texas because I had a contract that I needed to fill, and that year Phoebe moved to Texas, and that’s when we really started dating.

P: Where was your first date?

J: I would say Donner Pass-

Ph: That’s what I was going to say! We went on a climbing trip together to Donner Pass.

P: Favorite couple memory?

J: For me, an old time memory is when I proposed to Phoebe…

Ph: We had just finished this ice climb-

J: And it was something that we had seen kind of far away, and thought ‘oh, that looks really beautiful we should go there’! It took us about half a day to get there, and it was just really nice. I was pretty excited that Phoebe would do all of the things that it took to get there, and… It was a good day.

P: Did you have the ring with you the entire time?

J: No… It was a matter of asking the question.

P: Most embarrassing couple story?

J: Maybe when people are on campus and don’t know that we’re married or think that we’re brother and sister…

P: What’s the best thing about working together? The worst thing?

J: The best thing about working together is the worst thing: forgetting not to talk about work, stressing each other out lying in bed at night at talking about work. Also, getting to spend time outside, we had to spend an extra week in DV scouting new routes and that was very fun. We’re lucky to have a job where we can work together and spend time together; it doesn’t feel like work.

Emily Shinkle and Andy Shinkle (E= Emily, A= Andy, P= Priya) 


P: How did you meet?

A: We met in New York.

E: Andy’s twin brother is married to one of my close friends from grad school [who is also a music teacher], and at the time they were dating, I was student-teaching with her. Andy was interested in teaching and he came to visit her classroom and met there, at a high school in New York.

A: I was living in TX, and so I flew up to hang out with my brother in New York, and I had just gotten into grad school and I was going to start that semester. I just wanted to go observe classes before I started school again and I went to go watch her class, and [Emily] was playing piano there. We went out for lunch after that. I was also there because some friends of mine were going to do a video art piece in an apartment there, and so Emily came to that.

P: Was it love at first sight?

A: No, but it was definitely like at first sight.

E: That’s true. I’ll tell you what, though; we had lunch at the diner- he was observing us when it was lunchtime- and I [saw that] he had ordered a cheesecake for lunch and that just got me. He ordered a cheesecake for lunch; what guy does that? That made me go, ‘hmm, interesting! I like him!’

A: I liked her because she would come to this weird art project thing that we videotaped, and she was just like, jumping around everywhere and was very high energy and cute.

P: Where was your first date?

A: Our first date was supposed to be to Mexico.

E: We were supposed to take a road trip to Mexico right after the New Year after we met- early December of ’04-

A: And I was only in New York for one more day. I flew home back to Texas.

E: We were corresponding by email and text after that. Then, we thought we would be crazy and I would fly to Texas and drive to Mexico. We just got as far as Corpus Christi… The Gulf of Texas.

A: Our first date was probably like San Antonio.

P: What’s the funniest date you’ve ever been on?

E: We had a long-distance relationship from the get-go, so we would meet and travel. We met in Puerto Rico, in Texas, out here in the West Coast. We didn’t really date; we just had these very long periods of time together.

P: Favorite couple memory?

E: I loved living in Austin; when we lived in Austin we had a little house and rode our bikes everywhere. It was really fun and nice.

A: Emily would throw really good parties. One time we had a Bollywood cover band play at my surprise birthday party. There are all of the ‘children’ moments-

E: Which are all awesome, but a blur. I’m so tired, I can’t remember.

A: And all of the births were pretty amazing.

P: How did you get engaged?

E: I got pregnant with Scarlett.

A: I was really sick and I was lying on the couch, and Emily grabbed me by my robe and said ‘I’m pregnant!’

E: It was a shock-

A: But then we kind of stared at each other for a couple days-

E: But a couple of weeks later, we got engaged!

P: What’s the best thing about working together? The worst thing?

A: I like knowing that we can relate on all things that [Emily] talks about. We can totally connect over students and we can relate to that kind of stuff.

E: That’s kind of the worst thing, because sometimes that’s all we talk about, so we have to really turn that off and talk about other things. It’s like a blessing and a curse.

A: Also, I’m not allowed to put my arm around her anywhere on campus, so I’ve had to adjust to that!

E: Oh my gosh (laughs)

A: I’m more affectionate to Matt; Coach Z gets more hugs than my wife!

Lydia Aguilar and Miguel Aguilar: (L= Lydia, P= Priya) 


P: How did you meet?

L: Miguel and I met at a restaurant we worked at together, called The Pleasanton Hotel (named so because it used to be a hotel in the 1800’s).We worked in the kitchen preparing and cooking food for the weekend crowd.

P: Was it love at first sight?

L: I thought he was a cutie pie and so I waited patiently for him to ask me out. Finally, he asked me to go to a concert with him to see his favorite Mexican band, Los Bukis. We dressed up and had a really nice time dancing the night away.

P: What’s the funniest date you’ve ever been on?

I can’t think of the funniest date, but one of our funnest dates was a trip to Disneyland together.

P: Favorite couple memory?

L: A favorite couple memory of mine- pre kids- is spending a weekend in Napa together. Another of one of our best dates was when we dined at The French Laundry restaurant; probably the best meal we will ever eat in our lifetime! And of course, experiencing the births of our kids together were the most blessed moments of our life together!

P: Most embarrassing couple story?

L: The most embarrassing time that I’m almost too embarrassed to tell you about is when, on our wedding night, my mother stayed the night in the same condo in an effort to save her money on a room of her own.

P: How did you get engaged?

L: It wasn’t very romantic – we decided we wanted to start a family and we weren’t engaged yet. I ended up getting pregnant before we became engaged and so after we decided to officially become engaged. There was no bended knee or fairy tale proposal, but that’s okay! We were so excited to have our first child, the proposal was unimportant.

P: What’s the best thing about working together? The worst thing?

L: The best thing about working together is that we can always be here for each other, usually immediately, when one of us needs extra support from the other.The worst thing about working together is: there really aren’t any disadvantages. Miguel is my soulmate and he keeps me sane and happy! He truly is my rock.

Jim Sternberg and Kathleen Huntington:


P: How did you meet?

A Whitewater rafting trip on the American River.  Kathleen was the river guide and Jim was in charge of an inner city youth group.

P: Was it love at first sight?”

Sparks flew…

P: Where was your first date?

La Mediteranee on College Ave in Berkeley- a nice intimate setting where Jim bared his soul.

P: What’s the funniest date you’ve ever been on?

Rafting the Rogue River for one week with a small group of goofy friends, eating gourmet meals, and laughing ourselves silly every day.

P: Favorite couple memory?

Traveling around the world for one year after we got married.

P: Most embarrassing couple story?

Can’t think of anything at the moment….

P: How did you get engaged?

We proposed to each other at the summit of Wildcat Peak… watching the sunset and the moonrise.

P: What’s the best thing about working together? The worst thing?

[The worst thing is that it’s] hard to get away from work or talking about work-related issues, [and the] best thing [is that] we get to share our passion for living and working together in an amazing progressive school environment with smart and creative adults and students.

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