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Teachers married to teachers

Detroit Lakes teachers, from left, Steve and Rhonda Fode, Jon and Belinda Freeman, Paul and Amy Lakin, Mitch and Sheila McLeod, Mike and Pam Daly, Stan and Doreen Richter, Amy and Bruce Raboin and Tom and Linda Vagle.1 / 2
Courtney and Marc Henderson in front of their science classrooms at the DL Middle School.2 / 2

Teachers are, at times, viewed through a fish bowl. They are constant mentors, active members of the community and work in a system that uses public funds to finance it and therefore under public scrutiny. It can be tough.

Add dating and being married to one another and that fish bowl just got smaller.

Pam and Mike Daly

Case in point: Pam Daly moved to the school district and started teaching at the Detroit Lakes Middle School in 1995. During a teacher's in-service day, she was downstairs at the soda machine, wanting one pretty badly even though she didn't have the change for it. That's when she first saw Mike Daly, who taught in the connected Roosevelt Elementary.

Fellow teachers, staff and even students started playing matchmaker. Mike finally asked, Pam accepted.

"It was a group affect," Pam said, laughing.

The two started dating in October of 1995, and got married three years later. While they were dating, Mike got transferred to Rossman Elementary.

Although it was nice being together at the middle school and Roosevelt, Pam said they still ride to school together every day and go to lunch once a month together.

And when students put two and two together and realize she is the wife of Mike, "it's like I'm some kind of celebrity." All the kids love her husband, she said. "He has a pretty good sense of humor."

While the Dalys are one of the few couples to actually meet at school, there are many couples within the Detroit Lakes district -- about 20 of them.

The Frazee-Vergas and Lake Park-Audubon districts also have several teachers and staff married to each other, but teachers there either did not respond or chose not to be interviewed for this two-part series,

Bruce and Amy Raboin

Bruce and Amy Raboin, on the other hand, were high school sweethearts. Both elementary teachers -- her at Rossman, him at Roosevelt -- the two started dating in 10th grade while growing up in International Falls. Bruce said it was "a big deal" when Amy and her four sisters moved to the northern city.

After high school, Bruce went to Providence, R.I., on a hockey scholarship, and Amy attended St. Cloud State. They kept in contact and decided their senior year it was the "real deal." After both graduated with special education degrees, they got married and spent a year in France while he played hockey.

When they came back, Bruce got a job with the district and Amy worked as a stay-at-home mom, then started teaching in Frazee, with Lakes Country Service Cooperative in Fergus Falls and eventually was hired at Rossman Elementary.

For Amy and Paul Lakin and Courtney and Marc Henderson, there's a science behind their marriages.

Amy and Paul Lakin

The Lakins both teach science at the high school, and the Hendersons both teach science at the middle school.

Chemistry in chemistry class?

The Lakins met in the library at North Dakota State University. They had multiple science classes together, but it was "more toward later, the upper classes," that they started to date, Amy said.

From there, they taught together at El Paso, Texas, for eight years and then in Alaska for a couple years.

"My mother wanted us to move closer," Amy said. "She actually told us about the jobs here."

The Detroit Lakes district had two openings for science teachers at once, a rarity. That was 11 years ago.

Courtney and Marc Henderson

For the Hendersons, it started in 1987 when they met at college. Courtney was a freshman at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, and was walking through the dorms of Marc's St. John's University in Collegeville.

"It was kind of a fluke meeting, because I was just walking in his dorm with a group of girls. We were being freshman girls and greeting all the boys we saw. The rest is history," she said.

They married two years later, both worked at a hotel and then both attended Bemidji State University and got their teaching degrees.

After some shifting through area school districts, they both ended up in Detroit Lakes, teaching two doors down from each other.

"Between Marc and I, we teach all of the eighth graders," Courtney said. "Honestly, there is no downside of working together."

Patty and Kent Mollberg

Patty and Kent Mollberg met, got married and worked together in Silver Lake, Minn., before coming to Detroit Lakes.

"We actually had a school bus for our bridal party at our wedding. The bus was pretty symbolic of where we spent a lot of our time, since we were both coaches," Patty said.

Although they don't work in the same building now -- Patty at the middle school and Kent at the high school -- Patty said they have always made a good team. She said one of her favorite times coaching together was when she was track coach and he was her assistant.

"We had some of the most creative but hard workouts for our athletes. I would tell Kent what I wanted to accomplish during the practice and then he would help me plan fun workouts for the kids," she said.

"He was one of the biggest supporters for the teams I coached, and I was his No. 1 supporter for his teams."

Rhonda and Steve Fode

Rhonda and Steve Fode also met in college at Valley City (N.D.) State University. Steve said they met more through common friends than common classes.

After graduation, Rhonda got a job offer in McIntosh, S.D., and was told the district would have an opening for her husband before they moved there, which it did. They moved on to Reeder, N.D., and after there was talk of that school closing, they looked at either Jamestown, N.D., or Detroit Lakes.

They moved to Detroit Lakes and have been here since -- her at Roosevelt, him at the high school.

Steve said the decision to move to Detroit Lakes was a tough choice because he was a North Dakota boy and that he was reluctant to make the move.

"We made the right choice though. It's a great place to live," he said.

Mitch and Sheila McLeod

Mitch and Sheila McLeod have been in the Detroit Lakes School District for three and two years, respectively. They met at NDSU where she attended and he taught.

Being from the area, it was no problem for them to move to the Detroit Lakes area permanently in due time. First, after graduating from NDSU, Sheila student-taught in the Detroit Lakes system, under Mike Daly, in fact.

Mitch was both teaching and coaching when he decided to quit coaching and just teach at NDSU. At that same time, long-time athletic director Rick Manke retired in Detroit Lakes, and Mitch was asked to apply.

So they made the move to town, Mitch at the high school as athletic director, and Sheila at the Lakes Crisis and Resource Center for one year until a counselor position opened up at the Area Learning Center -- a position she had received her Ph.D. in.

"He was teaching how to become an athletic director," Sheila said when Mitch was offered the job in Detroit Lakes.

"It was perfect timing," he agreed.

(On Wednesday: The upside, and the downside, of being a teacher married to a teacher)