Keeping up with Cooper couples: Spouses that work together
FeaturesGeneral Features February 14, 2020 Admin
BY ABBIE TUSCHMAN
While Lisa Jones has been an English teacher at CCHS since 2012, this is Michael Jones’ first year at the school. He previously taught at Embassy Creek Elementary, where their daughter is in fourth grade. But this isn’t the first time the two have worked together. For about five years, Michael and Lisa Jones were colleagues at Driftwood Middle School. Having that experience under their belts, the Joneses know how to maintain a balance between their work and home lives.
“I think for us probably the biggest thing that has helped us to be successful is that we’ve always had an agreement, way back to when we were working at Driftwood Middle, that when we walk in the door, we are Mr. Jones and Mrs. Jones,” Lisa Jones said. “You know, we’re not Michael and Lisa.”
Unlike most of the couples working at CCHS, the Joneses share many students. Lisa Jones teaches AP English Language and Composition and Michael Jones teaches AP U.S. History, both of which are predominantly taken by juniors. The Joneses take advantage of this by creating assignments that support both curriculums.
“We do cross-team when it comes to my APUSH class. Mrs. Jones is really good about supporting the APUSH program by giving primary source documents within her AP Composition class,” Michael Jones said. “She’ll … bring up letters from Abigail Adams, she’ll bring up things by Ben Franklin. She’ll bring in primary sources that support her kids but they also support my kids. It’s really like a symbiotic relationship. We both kind of help each other.”
“She’ll bring in primary sources that support her kids but they also support my kids. It’s really like a symbiotic relationship. We both kind of help each other.”History teacher Michael Jones
However, being married also means that students assume they have the same teaching style. While there may be some similarities between the two teachers, Michael Jones emphasizes that students are going to take something different away from each class.
“I think sometimes the expectation is that if you’ve had one, you will enjoy having the other, but that’s not always necessarily true,” Michael Jones said.
Though they share a last name, the Joneses don’t share a classroom. The two hope that students will recognize that just because some school staff are married, that doesn’t mean they’re the same people.
“Just like we treat [students] as individuals, I think couples want to be treated as individuals too,” Lisa Jones said.
Both veteran CCHS teachers, the Sniders are no strangers to working in close quarters. Before Brian Snider became the school’s technology liaison coordinator, he taught business alongside his wife Linda Snider.
“I rarely see her,” Brian Snider said. “We used to be right across the hallway from each other but when you’re involved in your classes, you never see each other that much.”
Despite how infrequently they’re together during the school day—Brian Snider’s office is inside the media center and Linda Snider teaches marketing on the second floor of the 3900 building—the Sniders still reap the benefits of sharing a workplace. According to Linda Snider, sharing a work environment with your spouse can make it easier to understand and empathize with their experiences.
“I have somebody who knows exactly what I’m going through. So if I have a situation we talk about it on the way home and he can give me support [when] maybe, if he were in a different industry or field, he wouldn’t understand what it’s like to be a teacher.”DECA teacher Linda Snider
“I have somebody who knows exactly what I’m going through,” Linda Snider said. “So if I have a situation we talk about it on the way home and he can give me support [when] maybe, if he were in a different industry or field, he wouldn’t understand what it’s like to be a teacher.”
The Sniders have been married for 37 years and have worked together at CCHS for 19 of them. Working together hasn’t hindered the success of their marriage, but the Sniders still recognize that it won’t be ideal for all couples.
“We’ve had a lot of husbands and wives work here. Some worked out, some didn’t. But for me, it’s been good,” Brian Snider said.
If you’ve attended CCHS anytime in the last couple of decades, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the Megnas. Athletic Director Paul Megna has worked at the school for the past 27 years, Student Assessment Specialist Melissa Megna for the past six and all four of their children were CCHS students.
“We’ve always been part of the Cooper City culture,” Melissa Megna said.
Previously, Melissa Megna worked at an area office for the school district’s Career, Technical, Adult, Community Education (CTACE) program for 15 years. The two carefully considered the decision to work together at CCHS. But because Paul Megna oversees athletics and Melissa Megna oversees testing, their paths rarely cross.
“We’ve always been part of the Cooper City culture.”Student Assessment Specialist Melissa Megna
“There [are] some days we don’t see each other at all,” Paul Megna said.
While working at the same school as your spouse can impact the family dynamic, so can having your children attend that school. For Paul Megna, teaching at CCHS while all of his children were students was convenient for making it to their after-school activities. While other parents might have had long commutes or worked later hours, Paul Megna’s schedule offered him more flexibility.
“I was here for anything that they needed,” Paul Megna said. “I could see all their games. When they participated in any kind of event, I could be there.”
You could say that working together is how it all began for the Hilleberts. The two met in college when they both worked at Chili’s. Years later, the couple has circled back to where they began, now both working on the third floor of the 3900 building at CCHS. While Eric Hillebert teaches English, Patti Hillebert teaches marine science.
“I usually eat with science, he’ll eat over in the English [wing]. And then every once in a while we have lunch dates,” Patti Hillebert said. “I’ll go to his room or he’ll come to my room so we can just hang out because we barely see each other at school.”
Before the Hilleberts both started working at CCHS last school year, Patti Hillebert and Eric Hillebert taught different schools. Though the two say not much has changed about the dynamic of their marriage, their conversations at the end of the day are a bit different.
“I usually eat with science, he’ll eat over in the English [wing]. And then every once in a while we have lunch dates. I’ll go to his room or he’ll come to my room so we can just hang out because we barely see each other at school.”Science teacher Patti Hillebert
“We probably complain about the same things more often now,” Patti Hillebert said. “We have the same things that go on. Before he’d come home and tell me his day at work and the things going on there and I’d tell him about my school. Now that we’re at the same school, we already know everything that’s going on.”
Because Eric Hillebert teaches English to seniors and Patti Hillebert has some upperclassmen in her marine science classes, the two share some students. Occasionally, students will compare their teaching styles and even voice their preferences.
“I do think that [students] do treat us as a couple because I’ll have students that’ll come in and say, ‘I have your wife’ and, you know, ‘She’s a better teacher than you are,’” Eric Hillebert said.
As one of the biggest personalities on campus, Alfredo Pichardo is well-known among both staff and students. The TV production teacher has worked at CCHS for 15 years and his wife, Yoselyn Pichardo, came to the school about four years ago.
“Everybody opened their arms when I started working here,” Yoselyn Pichardo said. “We have nicknames. Like even the students call him ‘Picho.’ They call me ‘Pichy.’ They call my little one ‘Mini Pichy.’”
Though they work on the same floor, the Pichardos hardly see each other. While Alfredo Pichardo is the sponsor of Cowboy Television (CTV) and teaches Digital Video Production, Yoselyn Pichardo works for the school’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) department.
“She’s not in charge of me, I’m not in charge of her. So there’s no conflict or anything. If she would be like my boss, then that would be a conflict of interest.”CTV sponsor and Digital Video Production teacher Alfredo Pichardo
“She’s not in charge of me, I’m not in charge of her,” Alfredo Pichardo said. “So there’s no conflict or anything. If she would be like my boss, then that would be a conflict of interest.”
The Pichardos interact with many of the same staff and students, who often note how different the two are from each other. While Alfredo Pichardo is known for his boisterous personality, Yoselyn Pichardo is much more reserved. But Yoselyn Pichardo thinks their contrasting personalities are exactly what make their relationship work.
“Some of [the other staff] say, ‘How do you deal with him? He’s so wild and … you’re so different,’” Yoselyn Pichardo said. “But at the end of the day, that’s how it works … If you two are the same, you are going to be always like rejecting each other. It’s creating the balance.”
Both of the Carlisles are relatively new to campus. Physical education teacher Daniel Carlisle is in his second year back at CCHS after teaching here previously. ESE Specialist Kelle Carlisle joined the staff this school year after working at West Broward High School for a year.
“I definitely don’t think all couples could work together,” Kelle Carlisle said. “I think the advantage is that we’re not in the same department.”
“If you are going to work together and be around the same people all day, go home and make sure that you do find your own time and your own things to do outside of work.”ESE Specialist Kelle Carlisle
Daniel Carlisle teaches all eight class periods and Kelle Carlisle, who can be found in guidance, is frequently in meetings. Though the two don’t often cross paths at CCHS, they still make an effort to keep work and home separate.
“I think you need to be able to have your own separate space and your own jobs,” Kelle Carlisle said. “So we really try hard not to just talk about Cooper City—which is so easy just to talk about because that’s what we basically eat, sleep and breathe for eight hours of the day. If you are going to work together and be around the same people all day, go home and make sure that you do find your own time and your own things to do outside of work.”