Monte Vista’s favorite power couple

Lauren Walker and Mikayla Flores

    Would Monte Vista be the same without the couple who makes us all laugh?

    Kimberley Gilles and her husband Tom Dunlap, more commonly know as Ms. G and Mr. D by their students, are practically famous at Monte Vista for never having a dull moment together.

    From the day they met to the day they got married, Gilles and Dunlap have had a relationship based on laughter and adventure. The couple’s life never seems dull when they’re together– from marshmallow gun-fights to cross-country road trips– their relationship is filled with excitement.

    The marshmallow gun-fights are as weird as they sound. One year for Christmas, Dunlap gifted Gilles, her daughter, and his son marshmallow guns. They spent the day shooting the soft, sugary treats at each other from across the room. According to Dunlap, their daughter Molly, sat on the refrigerator, “like a sniper” and bombarded the rest of the family.

   Gilles and Dunlap both find importance in keeping strong family values. Gilles and Dunlap both had children from previous marriages, Gilles a daughter named Molly, Dunlap a son named Chris. Both commented on how important it was that they all got along, and that they became one, big family.

    Gilles and Dunlap met in 1999 when Gilles was teaching for UC Berkeley’s Bay Area Writing Project for fellow writers in the area and Dunlap happened to be in her writing group.

    When they met, they instantly connected through common interests and hobbies such as  writing daily in their journals.

    “We don’t go anywhere without our journals,” Gilles said.

  Dunlap has already filled 48 journals with writing. The couple has a bookshelf in their bedroom devoted solely for their journals. They even have a joint journal. The journal was a gift from Gilles to Dunlap for Valentine’s Day in 1999, and its original purpose was a for drawing. However, they started using the notebook to write notes to each other and ended up turning it into a scrapbook filled with their memories.

    “We started putting in our cards to each other…everything printed,” Gilles said. “Gift cards from our Christmas gifts to each other, printed emails to each other, receipts, greeting cards, drawings…”

        They decided to get married on April 1st, the following year after they met. It seems fitting that a couple that loves jokes and laughter got married on April Fools Day.

    “We wanted to be married in April in the Spring,” Dunlap said. “The only two Saturdays in April were April 1st and the of April 15th, and April 15th is in income tax day. When we told our friends it was on the 1st, they of course they thought we were joking!”

    However, the couple was indeed telling the truth. On the day of their wedding, April 1st, 2000

All 200 people they invited showed up.

    “So we envisioned right away that we’d have a simple, small wedding,” Dunlap said. “We wanted to have a church wedding, so we did, and we invited 200 people.”

    Gilles was shocked to announce that “everybody came!”

    “To this day, I will from time to time, thank him for marrying me,” Gilles said.

    Before meeting, both Gilles and Dunlap were teachers for years. After they met, they both worked at the same middle school, but after a few years, Dunlap decided to stop being a teacher and be a substitute.

    Throughout their 17 and a half years of marriage, Dunlap and Gilles has been known to give each other a variety of unique gifts, such as a giant green thermos with a matching sapphire ring (Dunlap to Gilles), and a pig completely made out of sticks (again Dunlap to Gilles).

    “I’ve given you puppets,” Gilles said to Dunlap. “Notice the plural there. I gave you a gorilla puppet, I gave you a dinosaur puppet…”

    “The dinosaur egg?” Dunlap asked.

    “No, you gave me the dinosaur egg puppet,” Gilles said.

     They clearly have some puppet discrepancies to work out.

    On the days when Dunlap substitutes at Monte Vista there are many moments of laughter. Dunlap has become a fixture in Gilles class, serving as a substitute in her absence, and occasionally stopping by during class. Working with your spouse has some unforeseen challenges, including but not limited to: distracting class by crawling through a window, distracting class by hanging in a tree, and frequently visiting with coffee.

     “Sometimes I amuse myself, and one day I had done something that was mildly disruptive and Ms. G said ‘if you don’t stop that I’m going to throw my shoe at you,’” Dunlap said. “And she did.”

     Gilles’ response?

     “He was warned.”

     However, this is not the only case of Dunlap’s antics distracting Gilles’ students.

     “I’m trying to figure out why this side of the room is in hysterics and I’m teaching away,” Gilles said. “And there’s this branch that comes up to my window, and he’s on it like a little gargoyle.” Why was he on there? He still doesn’t know.
     Dunlap has become a fixture in Gilles class, serving as a substitute in her absence, and occasionally stopping by during class.
     Through all the jokes and light-heartedness, Gilles and Dunlap have forged a relationship based off of mutual understanding and respect.
     Their advice for maintaining good relationship?  
      “You can either be right, or be in a relationship,” Dunlap said.