CRESTVIEW — When Laurel Hill School and Baker School's principals head home in the evening, it’s not unusual for work to follow.
That’s because they’re married.
Laurel Hill’s Lee Martello and Baker School’s Mike Martello say having a fellow principal as spouse provides a sympathetic and understanding ear at home.
“We actually end up running things past each other, and ‘What would you do?’ kind of things,” Lee Martello said. “He asks some things and I’m able to exchange ideas of what kids say and do.”
Lee Martello was appointed principal at Laurel Hill a year before her husband.
When Mike Martello moved up from being assistant principal long-time Baker Principal Tom Shipp's retirement, his wife provided plenty of practical advice.
Each spouse is the other's neutral sounding board as they work through concerns at their respective schools.
“It’s neat to be able to understand each other,” Lee said. “It gives a whole new level to our conversation in terms of empathizing with ‘Oh, I’ve done that’ or ‘I’ve been through that.’ He’s real good with empathizing: he’s a good compass.”
One member of the family isn’t so sure having two principals in the house is such a good thing.
“Our daughter, Carson, who is 15, says she can never get away with anything because she has two principals for parents,” Lee Martello said, laughing.
Carson attends Baker School, where her friends sometimes hope she can influence her father on school policies, such as the student dress code.
“Everybody says, ‘Talk to my dad. See if he’ll change this or change that,’” she said. “Then when I go home, (I learn) he’s not in charge of the dress code.”
While the Martellos support each other, act as sounding-boards and offer each other advice, there is one area where a bit of family dissension surfaces, Lee Martello said.
“Baker and Laurel Hill were in the playoffs for volleyball and (the game) was at Baker School,” she said. “We walked in and said hello, and he said, ‘You’re not going to sit with me?’ I said, ‘Absolutely not! I have to go over here and sit with blue and gold.’”
Sometimes, Lee and Mike get to take off their principal hats and just be a typical mom or dad.
“It is neat that though I’m a principal of a school, I then get to go be a parent at my husband’s school,” Lee said. “Our daughter is a cheerleader and in Leadership.
“It’s neat to get to see it from the view: not as an administrator, but as a parent who’s married to that administrator,” she said. “It’s nice to enjoy it from that perspective.”