Clay and Jay

By the time Clay Coddington accepted her first full-time teaching position at Goochland High School earlier this year, she already had a few things figured out.

She knew that she was excited about teaching, having recently received her master’s degree from the University of Virginia, and she knew she wanted to share her passion for great literature with her soon-to-be students. Coddington even had her carpool arrangements settled: her fiancé Jay Bechtel, as luck would have it, had already accepted a teaching position at Goochland Middle School just one building over from where she’ll be working.

Now, as they plan their wedding, the couple will also be learning the ropes as new teachers, Coddington as a 10th grade English teacher and Bechtel teaching the same subject to sixth graders.

The fact that they are working in the same school division wasn’t exactly planned, but it is something both say they are excited about.

The opportunity “just kind of fell out of the sky,” laughed Coddington, who grew up in Manakin Sabot before heading off the University of Georgia for an undergraduate double major in English and Spanish.

Bechtel, who is from Midlothian and earned his undergraduate degree in English from Virginia Commonwealth University, had already spent a semester student teaching in Goochland before accepting a full-time position at the middle school.

He and Coddington met at the University of Virginia when both were part of a small group of students pursuing a Masters of Teaching in English Education.

They hit it off immediately, and before long were inseparable. The engagement came during a celebratory post-grad trip to Europe, with Bechtel enlisting Coddington’s best friend to help pull off the surprise.

Now, as the school year gets underway, both Coddington and Bechtel say they feel fortunate to be able to support each other as they begin their careers

Sharing a ride to work is one thing, after all, but sharing a commitment to the same goal is something decidedly more special.

At the end of the day, “we’re both invested in this,” Bechtel said of the Goochland school division’s mission. “And that’s really unique.”

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