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    Redefining the phrase 'married to your work'

    The couple, a third-grade teacher and a PE coach, see more good than bad in working together at Plumb Elementary.

    By LORRI HELFAND

    © St. Petersburg Times, published September 5, 2000


    Most mornings Anne Carter climbs into the family van and heads to work. Her husband, Bill, hops on his mountain bike and peddles to his job. But they both end up at the same place, Plumb Elementary.

    Mrs. Carter teaches third grade and her husband teaches physical education.

    Students in Mrs. Carter's class think it's pretty neat that two of their teachers are married to each other.

    "It's cool," Jared Brady, 8, said. "Not many people here that work together are married."

    For the Carters, who came to Plumb Elementary two years ago, its a comfortable arrangement.

    "I know he's here. It's a real advantage," she said.

    The Carters usually see each other a few minutes each day, when Mrs. Carter walks her class to the field for physical education, and when she returns them to class afterward.

    In their brief passing, Mrs. Carter said she checks to make sure her husband called home to wake up their sons, Timothy, 11, and Patrick, 12, for school.

    And Mr. Carter said he'll fill her in on the students. "I'll let her know if someone has a problem or gets a little rambunctious," he said.

    While awaiting his turn at kick ball, Phillip Dennis, 8, thought of something else he liked about having the Carters as his teachers. They both have the same last name. "All I have to remember is Mr. Carter and Mrs. Carter."

    When the Carters decided to work together two years ago, they knew it would work out. "We had worked before at Bay Vista and knew it wouldn't be a problem," Mrs. Carter said.

    They met a little more than 20 years ago when Mrs. Carter was a Sunday school teacher and Mr. Carter volunteered at the church where she taught.

    At that time, Mr. Carter was working at Bay Vista Elementary. He mentioned an opening at the school and soon afterward, Mrs. Carter got a job there. But they didn't start dating right away.

    Mrs. Carter, who had a daughter from a previous marriage, wanted to make sure he was good with kids. Her daughter played soccer at the recreation center where Mr. Carter coached, and he passed the test. From his interactions with the children, she said, "I knew he was patient and understanding."

    Mr. Carter was drawn to her, too. "She was fun and interesting and easy to talk to," he said.

    Six years later, they tied the knot.

    "He says I chased him too long," Mrs. Carter said with a giggle.

    In time, the two left Bay Vista and taught at different schools. Mrs. Carter taught at St. Petersburg Challenge and Bay Point, and her husband taught at Lakewood High.

    Three years ago, the Carters decided they needed a change. They took a year's leave from Pinellas County and moved to Maryville, Tenn., where they owned some property. After settling in, they looked for teaching jobs. Mrs. Carter found a job in a middle school, but in the small town outside of Knoxville, Mr. Carter said there were few opportunities for physical education teachers.

    They returned in 1998, and that's when they put in for transfers. Mrs. Carter had her heart set on Plumb Elementary. It had a good reputation, she said, and she had worked with Principal Sandra Leanes at another school.

    Mr. Carter wasn't sure, but he thought, "I'll put down Plumb too and see what happens."

    By summer, they were both accepted to Plumb.

    All in all, the Carters say there are a lot of advantages to working together. They could only think of one disadvantage.

    Their first few months back in town were a trial. The Carters and their sons, who also went to Plumb, lived in south St. Petersburg. In the mornings they all piled in the van and drove to school together. But Mrs. Carter often had to get to school early and stay late to catch up on paperwork. It was hectic, getting the family out the door so early, they said, and everyone had a long day.

    Within a few months, they moved to Clearwater, a few blocks from Plumb Elementary.

    Leanes said she doesn't know many couples that work at the same school, but she knows a few that met that way. In fact, both Leanes and Assistant Principal Kathleen Woolums said they met their husbands at schools where they were teaching.

    Woolums said the Carters are a good match even though they have very different personalities. "They're a nice complement to each other." she said. "Bill has his running, and Anne goes to craft shows. But both are family people."

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