Genevieve Betz and Heidi Metz first became friends while attending Marquette High, where they were part of the first class to ever graduate from the school.
"We had similar friends and met each other and have literally been best friends ever since," Metz said. "We went to different colleges, but we still kept in touch."
They've been living almost parallel lives since high school. Metz went to the University of Missouri as a business major but decided education was her path, right around the time Betz was making a similar switch from music to education at Webster University. Metz got a job teaching fourth grade at Kehrs Mill Elementary in 2001. The next year, Betz was hired at Ballwin Elementary. Metz won Rockwood School District Teacher of the Year in 2009, and Betz was Ballwin Teacher of the Year four years later.
Betz and her husband even helped set Metz up with her husband. The two families vacation together.
"On vacation, we talk about what we're doing in our classes," Metz said. "Our husbands are like, 'Are you really talking about school?' We're still giving each other ideas of things to do and things to try. It's neat."
As some of the first students to ever walk the halls at Marquette, Betz and Metz's class had a hand in naming the mustang mascot – Mookie – and launching the Stampede pep group.
They also never had to deal with any other students at the school pulling seniority on them.
"They did a couple welcome barbecues before we even got started where we got to meet the staff," said Betz, who was zoned for Lafayette but applied for limited school choice to Marquette because most of her Crestview friends were going there. "It felt like we weren't crowded the first year, because it was just two classes. The class of '96 and '97 almost melded into one big class and got to be really good friends."
The two encountered educators there who helped stoke their passion for teaching. Metz forged a connection with math teacher Karen Cannon, with whom she still keeps in contact, and Betz flourished with the support shown by Lisa Kaczmarczyk and Tammy Wagner in the music program.
"I wanted to get back to Rockwood so badly after college," Metz said. "That was my dream, to come back. We're helping kids be successful humans. All these teachers that I had at Crestview and Marquette, they helped me be who I am."
Betz, too, had Rockwood on her short list when she finished school. She had done observations in Metz's classroom at Kehrs Mill and was hoping for a job to open up there, but she took a third-grade post at Ballwin.
Eighteen years later, she knows it was the right decision.
"This is where I was meant to be," Betz said. "I strongly believe that Rockwood gives such a great education. I really believe in the school district. So when I'm talking with my students and parents about the future at Selvidge or Marquette, it's very easy for me to say that things are going to be OK."