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When Teachers Grow into Family

Dylan, the Nerd in Charge, has had two teachers become family during his schooling, and this is the story of one.

Having moved to Florida at the onset of his high school years, Dylan knew no one at a school where most friendships were established in elementary. During the elective meet and greet, Dylan gravitated towards the band due to his enjoyment of playing the stand-up bass in the orchestra back in North Carolina. The band director was encouraging and suggested an electric bass would work for the marching band. Dylan forged friendships and found a community in the band. The band teacher was spunky, diligent, and fun. We participated in the boosters and formed an alliance with him as well.

Our volunteering begets to game nights, to escape rooms, birthday parties, and then family vacations. When Ben became family, we inherited his fiancé, Mariah, who shares musical theatre love equal to mine. Not being a fan of bachelor or hen parties, we created an “Amazing Race” for them before their wedding. Instructions were to pack a bag, dress comfortably, and meet us at a coffee shop. The day included tasks related to skills that are useful for marriage. They had to pay it forward by buying folks their morning coffee at the Starbucks but learn something about this stranger- Communication. Archery obstacle course- Learn a new skill at the same time. Have limited time and money to purchase a grocery list we provided- Budgeting. The final destination was at a resort where they had to cook a meal from items they bought (in a small kitchen) with one leg tied together- Teamwork.

They found a Donut Shoppe/Game café in Ireland during their honeymoon and bought us the game Scythe. This was our first Stonemaier Game and the first weightier game we had played.

Fast forward many years and many hours of board games; Ben and Mariah have officially joined The Nerdz Garage. Please give them friendly hello when you see them on the social media.

Here is some dirt on Ben and Mariah!

Ben- Excited to join the team, Ben has been nerding out since middle school when he became fascinated with collecting baseball cards, learning playing card games, and attempting to master the Gameboy Color. He has recently developed his love for elaborate board games, moving on to the likes of expansion packs and legacy style games. Ben really enjoys teaching music to the younger generation, watching baseball, and casually hitting golf balls (usually far away from the pin) when he is not playing a competitive board game with his wife Mariah or the rest of NerdzGarage.


Mariah lives in a world full of music and pumpkins. No, trust me, so many pumpkins! If she could, she would do nothing but play her instruments and have it be Fall and Halloween all year.

When she’s not teaching or playing music, she is watching Gilmore Girls, Harry Potter, or playing a game. Mariah is always up for a new adventure and ready to find the next creative outlet. In her ideal world, she would be drinking coffee next to Lorelai Gilmore and starring as Jenna in Waitress, the musical on Broadway.

PS- Listened to Waitress the Musical while writing this.


Let’s be honest; there is still a bit of drama when we play.

Sit Down -Grab a Drink – Join the Game

Suzzan Smith



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