Seven couples work within the White Rocks
Last February, at a dinner to celebrate his birthday, Middle School earth science teacher Christian Sears '01 told his then-girlfriend, "I'm sure you got me a lot of great things for my birthday, but there's only one thing I want." He then proceeded to get down on one knee and propose... to Middle School Chinese teacher Elizabeth Tredeau.
When the two were married in November 2015, they became the sixth married couple that currently works at Landon. The list also includes Assistant Head of Upper School Hans Farnstrom and Upper School English teacher Lora Farnstrom, Director of Athletics David Holm and Lower School librarian Evelyn Holm, Middle School Spanish teacher Jeremy Norman '92 and Lower School Spanish teacher Mirian de Ossorno, Upper School science teacher Blair Northcott and Upper School academic technologist Tara Northcott, and History Department Chair Bill Reed and School Store manager Jennifer Reed. Middle School math teacher Jamie Matthews and Upper School English teacher Emily Piacenza are engaged to be married this September.
For the Boys
That may sound like a lot of couples for one school, but Sears — who started dating Tredeau after the Landon 85th Anniversary Gala in February 2014 — believes there is a good reason he met his match inside the White Rocks. "One of the nice things Elizabeth and I have in common is how much we like working with the boys," he said. "It really is a focal point of our lives, making sure that the boys are developing into good, solid members of the community."
Tredeau (now Tredeau-Sears) sees another big benefit to working alongside her spouse. "There is so much about work that I wouldn't be able to explain to most people — a lesson not turning out the way I had hoped or what to do with an advisee in a certain situation — and Christian just understands."
"It's nice to have someone who's not only in your field but also knows the same people and same kids," added Tara Northcott, who met her husband Blair when they shared an office while she was completing her Ph.D. in New Zealand (the two now have a son Brendan and another baby on the way). "And it's nice to every once in a while have lunch together."
Indeed, working at the same place provides the ancillary benefit of added face time with one's significant other. "If I have free time, I like to drop by Mirian's class, and she does the same with my classes," said Norman (pictured above with de Ossorno and their son Luke). "The boys seem to get a kick out of watching us speak Spanish and interact with each other. [And] sometimes Mirian will drop by my office when I am not there and leave me a snack on my desk with a little note or vice versa. A kind detail like that can make the day a little better."
Jamie Matthews agrees. "When Emily and I were both in the Middle School, we would eat lunch together pretty often," he said. "Now that she's in the Upper School, that doesn't happen as much, but every once in a while our schedule will overlap and we can have lunch — it makes my day."
Jennifer Reed (above with Bill) — whose son Willis '23 is currently in the fifth grade and whose daughter attends Holton-Arms — joined the Landon staff last year as manager of Bear Essentials, Landon's School Store, and says she saw instant advantages to being the spouse of the longtime History Department chair and head varsity soccer and baseball coach. "The boys love that I'm married to Bill," she said. "They always tell me when they're going to Mr. Reed's class, and they want to know if I know what's on the test... And Bill is always spreading the love about me. 'Oh, you should go see what Mrs. Reed has in the store.' He thinks the store is great, and he thinks I'm doing a great job, so he's a nice cheerleader for me."
Love at Work
While not all couples met at Landon, many did... or they connected while working at other schools.
The Reeds met at Berwick Academy in southern Maine, while the Holms started dating when Evelyn and David taught together at Patterson High School in rural Louisiana. David, a social studies teacher, had the classroom across the hall from Evelyn, an English and French teacher there as part of Teach for America. Their flirtation began somewhat unconventionally: "David used to take my keys and hide them in the vending machine," Evelyn laughed. The Holms subsequently worked together at Fenwick Academy in Chicago and now have two daughters at Holton and two sons, including Landon fifth grader Ben '23.
While on a Landon-in-Spain trip to Santander, Jeremy Norman met Mirian de Ossorno while having coffee with former teacher Alfredo Benevides at a café in the main plaza there. Later that year, de Ossorno came to visit Norman and secured a job at Westland Middle School in Bethesda before she arrived at Landon. The two married in 2003 and now have a daughter Katie and son Luke. "Alfredo likes to take credit for getting us together... I like to think it was my charming personality and good looks," Norman joked.
Like Sears and Tredeau, Piacenza and Matthews (pictured above) met while teaching in the Middle School. "I had spent time with Emily as part of a group with other Middle School teachers," Matthews said. "Then one afternoon I asked her to go to dinner in Bethesda."
"I thought it was going to be a group, so I said yes," Piacenza said. "We went to Nest in Bethesda, and I realized there was no one else there. When he went to the restroom, I called my sister and said, 'I think I'm on a date.'"
According to the teachers, one of the best parts of being a couple at Landon is how supportive the boys and their parents are. "Some of the students are more excited than our friends that Jamie and I are getting married," Piacenza said. "Two students have volunteered to be our best man."