Gunn and Paly. Archnemeses until the end. Many students have friends at the rival school, Paly, however for Student Activities Director Lisa Hall, the connection goes further—her spouse works there.
The two met through a community outreach organization known as Youth and Government when they were both advising the program. “I was doing YMCA stuff and was an advisor and so was he,” Lisa Hall said. Her husband, Paly Student Activities Director Matt Hall backed her up. “I think it was Bakersfield. Yeah, the advisor development conference for YMCA Youth and Government delegation advisors in 1996,” he said. “Specifically, she was the advisor of the Palo Alto family YMCA delegation, and I was the advisor for the South Coast delegation.”
Being married to your counterpart at another school has its perks. “We both have the same health benefits plan, we both get the same days off, so in terms of holidays, that’s really great,” Matt Hall said. “In terms of more kind of spiritual or philosophical benefits, it’s nice to have somebody who understands what you go through on a day-to-day basis.” Lisa Hall doubled down on that, saying that what has been really helpful is being able to collaborate on ideas, especially since they do have the same job. “We can really share ideas and the schools are different enough that something they’ve tried that works might be a novelty here and vice versa,” she said.
Spirit Dances–Paly’s version of Airbands–have also drastically changed because of the couple’s marriage. “At Paly before my arrival, spirit dances were essentially the same four to five boys and girls,” Matt Hall said.“So 10 students out of 500 students got to have that experience and got to have the glory. But when I became the next director, and I saw what Lisa was doing at Gunn with incentivization and inclusion, we came around to the same system. And now if you look at our spirit dances, you’re talking 144 seniors last year and 50 fresh-men.”
Lisa Hall says she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I think it’s great to be able to work with my husband in the same district,” she said. “I know that some people like more separation but it works really well for us.”
Matt Hall puts emphasis on just how much he has learned from his wife. “Lisa was my mentor. She’s been doing this for 15 years,” he said. “There’s nobody in the district at either school who has been on the admin teams of either high school for that long. Let me say that again. No one else. There’s only one person in the district who has lasted that long. And that’s her. And there’s a reason for that. Because her systems are strong. She treats her students well, she’s a quality teacher. She’s a quality educator, and she’s a quality woman.”