He Enlisted the Help of Her Kindergarten Students to Pull Off the Proposal

Image 1 of Torrie and Brett

How We Met

The night I met the man I am about to marry, I thought he was standing me up. It was a rainy night and I had been waiting for Brett to arrive for almost an hour. A friend and I were waiting at a local Bar & Grill to meet Brett and his friends. My friend and I got there at the agreed upon time. And we waited….and waited…and waited. I had talked to Brett through texts before but this would be the first time we met face to face. After laughing about the fact that Brett was probably going to be a no-show, and considering going home, Brett walked through the doors. My first thought was “Shoot…he looks even better in person. There is no way he will like me.” Brett and his friend walked over to our table and gave us some ridiculous excuse about how they could not get here on time because it was raining. Turns out that story was actually true. His best friend, Jeff, refused to leave the house until it stopped raining because he did not want to mess up his hair.

Image 2 of Torrie and Brett

We talked, we had a few drinks, and I remember not wanting the night to end. When we were leaving to head home, Brett offered to drive me home. I was secretly hoping he would do that but I pretended to contemplate whether I wanted a ride home or not. Spoiler alert: I took the ride home from him. Here’s the kicker. We lived one street away from each other. Our entire lives, we lived less than a quarter mile away from each other and we never knew it. Brett dropped me off at my house that night but that was probably the last time we would be away from each other for a long period of time.

It was May of 2013 when we started talking. I was entering my senior year of college at William Woods University. I had just moved back home for the summer which means I had three months to sit and day dream about this cute guy who never texted me back in a timely manner and left my mind wondering what on earth he was thinking about me constantly. I would listen to a playlist on my phone of ALL love songs that reminded me of Brett. I am not kidding when I say this kid was the WORST person at texting back. I would wait hours for him to text back. And to make it worse, it was always a short text like “yea lol” or “that’s cool”. To be fair, he was working almost every day until 8 pm while I sat back and enjoyed my summer. We started hanging out almost every night of the summer. I knew he watched the Netflix series, Breaking Bad, so I started watching it too. I would use that as my excuse for him to come over.

“What are you doing tonight” -Brett

“Probably just watching Breaking Bad..feel free to join” -Me

I had to play it cool by saying “feel free to join” when in reality, I had a full face of makeup on, my hair had been perfectly straightened and I had already picked out an outfit that was cute enough but not too cute to look like I tried as hard as I actually did. 9 times out of 10, Brett ended up at my house binge watching Breaking Bad.

I also quickly discovered Brett’s deep love of the Saint Louis Blues. I had never watched a hockey game before I met Brett. That quickly changed. In fact, Brett was named after Brett Hull (a Saint Louis Blues legend) so I quickly began educating myself on the game. I remember posting pictures on social media of a Blues cup that I was drinking out of at my cousins house one day in hopes that Brett would see it and think I was “cool” because I was a (fake) Blues fan. He took me to my first Blues game in 2013. (They played the Canucks and lost in overtime-he remembers). I didn’t even have to pretend I loved the game…it was a blast! I couldn’t believe what I had been missing my whole life. The game was exciting, I couldn’t take my eyes off the ice! That is the day I became a die hard Blues fan and a die hard Brett fan (I’m sorry that is so cheesy but I just couldn’t pass it up)!

Image 3 of Torrie and Brett

I was finishing my senior year of college doing my student teaching in Fulton, Missouri. Brett drove up every weekend to visit. If for some reason he couldn’t come visit, I drove home. We were inseparable. I truly never imagined that people like him existed. He was my real life prince charming, treating me like an absolute princess. I just kept waiting for something to be wrong with him, but it still hasn’t happened! He watched me graduate college, I did not watch him graduate (because he chose to go to the Blues game that day instead). He has been my rock since the day I met him! When they say opposites attract, it could not be more true. Brett and I completely balance each other out! I am a crazy, outgoing, loud, sometimes obnoxious kindergarten teacher and he is a quiet, sweet, loving, and painfully shy man with a heart bigger than this world. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Image 4 of Torrie and Brett

how they asked

I woke up on October 26, 2016 at 3:30 am with a horrible stomach ache. Once I woke up, I could not fall back asleep. I was hunched over in pain from 3:30-5:45 am when my alarm went off letting me know it was time to get ready for school. Ugh! I felt awful. I woke my mom up. She was in on the surprise of a lifetime that would be coming in just a few short hours. I can only imagine the thoughts that were running through her head when I woke her up at 6 am. Fully knowing I would not use a sick day, she slyly said, “Why don’t you just take a sick day”. I said absolutely not, got ready for school, and was out the door with my Pepto Bismol!

I am fortunate enough to have my dream job being a kindergarten teacher! It was hat day at school on October 26th. We were having a fundraiser for Backstoppers (a charity group for fallen first responders). I have developed a reputation at school for wearing crazy costumes during spirit weeks, so wearing a “normal” hat was out of the question! I chose a plastic red fire hat that had “Buehne” written on the back of it. My dad is a fire chief and my grandpa was as well, so I had my choice of fire helmets! We have school wide assemblies every quarter known as Team Rallies. We had our first quarter Team Rally on this particular Wednesday. At 9 o clock, my kindergartners and I started making our way down to the gym for the rally. As I walked my sweet kiddos into the gym, I had no idea that I was about to receive the surprise of a lifetime.

We sat on the floor and clapped for students receiving awards. Part of our assembly paid tribute to local first responders. Our principal had told us earlier that week to invite any loved ones that are first responders so we could honor them at the assembly. My dad is a fire chief at a fire house just a few miles away from my school, so inviting him was a no-brainer! Unbeknownst to me, he was doubling as a spy for the rest of my family who was hiding our school’s conference room with the lights off.

Towards the end of the assembly, my incredibly thoughtful principal started talking about an award that they were going to start giving to teachers who go above and beyond. It was going to be know as the “Love is the Key” award. She finished describing the award and then I heard her call my name as the first recipient. I was shocked. It is really all a blur now, but I just remember feeling an overwhelming feeling of joy (because I do LOVE my kiddos!) She pointed to a chair that was in the middle of the gym and asked that I sit in it and watch a short video clip that they had put together to show their appreciation.

The video began to play. Students popped up on the screen holding a heart with a key in the middle of it. Every student gave their definition of love. They began their sentence with “Love is….”. It was incredibly sweet and thoughtful. A few kids into the video, I started noticing that every student was a previous student of mine. Not one other kiddo was thrown in the video…only my students. Hmm..that was interesting. Then I started to notice that the heart they were holding up had the date written on it (10-26-16). Hmm..that was interesting too. Why would it have the date? Because it was the date of the Team Rally? Hmm…my head was spinning. Could Brett be behind this? No, there’s no way.

Image 5 of Torrie and Brett

I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. It was just a sweet video that my former students had made for me! They’re so sweet! Now back to the video…. Students continued with “Love is important…Love means you never want to let someone go…Love is when you REALLY really like someone” Adorable! The last kid in the video held up the heart and said “Love means your gonna get married” The entire gym laughed (including myself).

Image 6 of Torrie and Brett

I thought the video was over but I was so very wrong. Immediately, “Love is an Open Door” from Disney’s Frozen started playing. This is a song that I always made Brett lip sync with me! Pictures started popping up on the screen showing memorable moments of the nearly 4 years that Brett and I had been dating.

“Oh my gosh” you can see me saying on the video when I realize what is going on. Pictures continue to play on the screen as one of my current students walks up to me pointing her finger at my face exclaiming, ” You told me you didn’t have a boyfriend!” It’s true, I kept Brett a secret from my kindergartners. The video ends with my current students on screen shouting “Say yes! Say yes! Say yes!” By this time, Brett has revealed himself from behind the stage, my entire family had snuck into the assembly, and I had a smile bigger than my entire face. He got down on one knee, and I’m not entirely sure what he said, but I grabbed the ring, put it on my finger, and hugged him (because we had an entire gym filled with 5-10 year olds watching us! A kiss would have been too much!!)

Image 7 of Torrie and Brett

It was truly a dream come true. I had never felt more love in my entire life. My family, my school family, and my future family were all a part of this special day. I call my students “my kids” because we are like a little family.

Image 8 of Torrie and Brett

I care so much about them, and the fact that Brett was able to incorporate them into this just completely fills my heart. On October 26th, 2016, my dreams came true. Anything that happens now is just a bonus!

Image 9 of Torrie and Brett

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Special Thanks

Christine Guest
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Melanie Palermo
 | photography
Kevin Harder
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