COTTONDALE, Fla. (WMBB) – For Cottondale High English teacher, Clay Dilmore, a passion for literature and teaching started when he was a young high school student.

“I had a phenomenal 10th grade English teacher that sparked a love for literature and sparked a love for learning,” said Dilmore. “Every day, I would come in her room and I’d be like if I could just be here all the time, then that pretty much would be all I needed.”

That desire to be in the classroom soon turned into a reality for Dilmore. Quite literally.

“There’s been a disturbing amount of my life that has been spent in this building.”

After getting his teaching degree, he became an English teacher at the same school that inspired him.

“There’s a family atmosphere here that’s doubly true for me as someone who graduated,” said Dilmore. “So part of the motivation was always, let me go back there and give something, you know?”

In a school made up of around 400 students, it’s easy to feel like family. For Dilmore, that feeling rings true in more ways than one.

His wife, Rebecca, teaches math right down the hall from Dilmore.

The two met 16 years ago during their first year teaching at Cottondale.

“It’s wonderful, we’re a team,” Rebecca said. “At home and at work, so it’s wonderful.”

“We’re best friends,” Clay said. “It’s just easy. Why wouldn’t we work together? We spend every other time together.”

The pair was nominated by a student’s parent who says the Dilmores pour their hearts into their students.

Principal Zanda Warren said the school is successful because of their teaching.

“They’re two of our best teachers,” said Warren. “They’re highly effective.”

The veteran teachers are both department heads. Clay also leads the Academic Team and Rebecca helps him quite a bit.

“There’s so many wonderful teachers at Cottondale and we have really really great kids, so we’re pleased to be here and flattered that they like us as much as we like them,” said Rebecca.