For two online social studies tutors, summer can be a pretty slow time to work with students.
So when there wasn’t anyone to help learn the concepts of history or civics, Ginger and Vern Kahl took up conversations between themselves.
The two educators talked about books they read and tidbits about history that interested both of them. They discussed their love of travel and places they’d like to see someday.
The couple even found they had the same favorite childhood book — “Mrs. Coverlet’s Magicians” by Mary Nash.
“We both discovered we both had that book from grade school,” Ginger Kahl said. “I even still have my copy.”
From those slow-day chats grew a relationship that has persevered. The Kahls have been married for 10 years, finding that they had shared interests and common life experiences.
“When we tell people how we met, almost all of the people say, ‘How neat.’ The fact we met doing tutoring on AOL is surprising to most people,” Vern Kahl said.
The Kahls met in the late 1990s, when both served as volunteer tutors for AOL’s Community Leaders program. They helped middle school students who were struggling with social studies, walking them through concepts and helping them do better in their classes.
“A lot of times in the summer, you didn’t have a lot to do, and you’d talk to your fellow teachers in the room. Vern was one of those teachers,” Ginger Kahl said. “We’d talk and get to know each other for about a year before we met.”
Despite encountering each other on regular basis online, they were separated by 300 miles in real life. Ginger Kahl lived in Franklin and taught in Edinburgh. Vern Kahl was working in Detroit at the time, working for Kelly Services’ corporate office.
In 2002, they met in person for the first time. Ginger Kahl traveled to Detroit over her fall break, and their relationship became more serious. The couple traveled back and forth on weekends.
“We had the love of the same kinds of things, like history. We could have a political conversation, that we knew enough about it to have conversations,” Ginger Kahl said. “We’ve experienced the same things.”
Like the story of how they met, the way they became engaged is unique to the Kahls. The couple had been dating for about two years when they went to see “The Passion of the Christ.”
Stirred by the deep religious message, Vern Kahl was inspired to make a life decision.
“From that point, I said we’re either getting married or we’re breaking up because we can’t keep living like this,” Vern Kahl said.
After they were married on July 24, 2004, Vern Kahl moved to Franklin while Ginger Kahl finished her teaching career. They are both retired and have embarked on a number of the traveling plans they had chatted about over the years.
The couple have seen the Salt Flats of Utah, Petrified Forest National Park and northern Maine. This summer, they plan to drive to Alaska. When the summer solstice hits the Northern Hemisphere in June, they plan to be standing on the Arctic Circle.
“We’ve traveled everywhere,” Ginger Kahl said. “Since we’re retired, we can just take off when we feel like it.”
Vern and Ginger Kahl
How they met: Served as social studies tutors for middle school students on an AOL chatroom