David Freeze: Young couple just hit it off
By David Freeze
For the Salisbury Post
John Roach had a plan. He felt the time was right to propose marriage to the woman he loved and knew just how to go about it. Since both are Salisbury residents and they spend quite a bit of time together, John had to be a little evasive to keep his plans from girlfriend Amber Strause. He asked for permission from her parents and quickly got it. John then enlisted the help of Amber’s sister, Courtney, and various others, all the while setting the wheels of his plan in motion.
Amber found John’s receipt for lunch in Concord on Monday and questioned him about it. John works in Charlotte, and Amber wanted to know why he was able to have lunch in Concord. Uncharacteristically, John was evasive. She found out on Thursday that John bought her ring on Monday in Concord and then hid it immediately.
John and Amber met each other in March 2009. John was participating in a law enforcement SWAT training exercise at Carson High School. Amber was there to take pictures. Amber had been on a mission to find a romantic interest for her sister and first considered John as a possibility. Shortly afterwards, John and Amber hugged at Cracker Barrel. Amber recalled, “He smelled so good!”
Soon they were on the fast track, realizing that their personalities were a good fit, complimenting each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Amber added “We just hit it off. The first time I went to his house was so very special. He played the guitar and sang for me. Our mothers both predicted that we would get married. ”
Fast forward to Wednesday. John called Hurley Elementary Principal Kim Walton and asked for permission to pop the question in Amber’s room at 3:01 p.m. The time is significant because teachers are expected to work till at least 3 p.m. Courtney enlisted the help of Salisbury Post Editor Elizabeth Cook, and I became the reporter designated to stage an interview with Amber. Her fellow teachers knew that occasionally a new teacher is interviewed about her first year. Courtney met me in the parking lot, and Principal Walton took me to Amber’s classroom as she provided the info that made the basis for the “first year teacher” interview. The fifth-grade team of Gina Phifer, Jamie Platt and Debbie Gardner were in the room also. Phifer serves as Amber’s mentor.
Amber teaches fifth grade at Hurley Elementary. She told me about training that she received as a new teacher this past summer. “We were encouraged to soar like eagles,” she said, “to go beyond and out of their way toward success. Don’t just be a prairie chicken!”
After some thought, she added, “Oh, and the food was great! We received certificates, plants and a really nice breakfast.”
My next question to Amber was “OK, now tell me a little bit about yourself. What makes you who you are?”
Amber was very engaging and her face lit up as she answered. “I am creative and artistic, and very tech-savvy. I have lots of energy. My classroom is different than many others. My students are up and moving, sometimes loud. Personally, I love photography, the outdoors and …”
At precisely 3:01 p.m., John entered Amber’s classroom with lots of family and friends. Though he was carrying a large vase of roses and wearing a tie, Amber seemed only mildly surprised to see him though she stopped mid-sentence with her interview response. John set the roses on the table in front of Amber and then addressed the waiting group,
“Amber and I have known each other year for 3 years …. and I love her and she loves me.”
John got down on his knee and looked directly at Amber and said, “Will you please marry me?” She immediately hugged him and John continued “Was that a yes or no?” to which Amber replied “Yes!” She then gathered herself and added, “Am I still being interviewed?”
Amber’s mom and dad, Cindy and Kirk, were on hand. Her stepparents, Tammy and Alan, were also there. John’s mom, Carol, came in from Asheville. Amber’s sister Ashlynne and cousin Cassidy joined in.
John concluded by saying, “Circumstances made now be the right time. This is exactly where Amber and I needed to be. This is real. She loves me, and she knows me. I feel very blessed.” Amber added, “He loves the little things about me. He even loves my hands. I think everything is going to work out perfectly.”
For my part, this was a wonderful occasion. Granted that I have more experience with proposals than most, I feel justified in saying that John and Amber are off to a great start in their life together. Courtney Strause summed it up by saying, “He’s wonderful to her, and we all love him. This day was great!”