Livin' the Dream Every Day
By Debbie Lagestee • Photos by Lea Austen Photography
Some might call it destiny. In 2008, Abby had just moved to Charleston to be closer to her sister and begin a new job as Assistant Principal at McClellanville Middle School. Robbie had just finished Graduate School at The Citadel. He had every intention of moving back to New York to pursue his career as a guidance counselor, but instead he was offered and accepted a job at McClellanville Middle School. Robbie and Abby met in August as new employees at the beginning of the school year. They began dating in September, however, at the school they kept their romantic interest in each other to themselves. When Robbie and Abby announced their engagement in April of 2009, the staff and faculty were quite astounded while the students, on the other hand, were not at all surprised! Unfortunately, that would be their only year working together at McClellanville Middle School as it permanently closed in June 2009. Although it was sad to see the school close, they are forever grateful it brought them together.
Abby grew up in Hoopeston, IL a small farming community approximately 2 hours south of Chicago. Abby has been working in the education field for 20 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Millikin University in Decatur, IL. She earned her master’s degrees from the University of Illinois and National Louis University. She has a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of South Carolina. Abby has been the principal of two Title I schools in CCSD, Minnie Hughes Elementary and Memminger Elementary. In August 2019, she transitioned to a new role with Charleston County School District as Director of Internal Consulting. It is a new department that was created to problem solve the issues within the organization.
Although she no longer works in the school, working hand in hand with the CCSD Chief Financial Officer, she is confident her years of experience working in various schools throughout the county will bring a positive change as she advocates for students.
Robbie grew up in Nyack, New York, and attended Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. He played football and earned his bachelor’s degree in Business and Marketing. Robbie loves working with people, but after working in the business world he realized he wanted to find a more meaningful way to connect with people. He moved to Charleston and in with his mother to take advantage of in-state tuition while attending The Citadel to earn his master’s degree in School Counseling. Robbie currently works at James Island Charter High School. He loves the energy of working with the students. Robbie always had the goal of becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor. “If you wait for the right time, it’ll never come”, he said. Although the process took a few years, he recently achieved his goal and earned his LPC licensure. His counseling position at the school is extremely rewarding as he feels there is a great need for the kids, and he now looks forward to counseling adults and youth in a clinical setting as well.
Robbie and Abby were married on Isle of Palms by Pastor Paul, the lead pastor at Crosstowne Church, who happened to live across the street from them when they built their home in Salt Grass in 2009. The family now attends church there as well. They have 4 children. Mac is 9 years old, and he is super sweet, he has a kind heart and always looks out for others. He loves playing sports especially baseball and basketball. Kaine is 7 years old, he is smart, he loves sports, running around and hanging out with his older brother. Quinn, lovingly referred to as “Sister” is 4 years old; she rules the roost! She loves playing with her friends across the street and her favorite shows are anything with Barbie. She recently learned to swim and ride her bike without training wheels.
Brec is 9 months old. He is a great baby, always smiling, happy, and super chill. The Woods love their home and the neighborhood. Robbie recounted, “We’ve watched it grow and grow up with us.” When Abby was pregnant with Brec they knew they were outgrowing their home. Abby said, “I can’t imagine trying to move with all the kids.” Robbie added, “Our life together is this house, this neighborhood.” They decided a new baby would not be the only new addition. They built an addition on their home adding a 5th bedroom for the baby and installed a beautiful pool in the backyard. Robbie stated, “This is home, it’s home for our kids and for us.” Abby continued, “The great thing about our neighborhood is I feel like I can let the boys go ride their bikes on their own, building responsibility and confidence.” Abby’s sister and family also live in Carolina Bay, so they are constantly looking for opportunities to get together with each other.
The Woods are Disney enthusiasts. They guesstimate they have been there about 15-18 times. They were season pass holders for several years. The kids love Magic Kingdom, and Robbie and Abby love Epcot, but they genuinely enjoy all the parks. Often, when they plan family vacations, they research and consider other destinations, but they always seem to fall back on trips to Disney. They know they will not be disappointed because there is something for everyone, they have learned the ins and out of Disney, and their expectations are always met and oftentimes exceeded. Perhaps someday they will try something different, such as a Disney Cruise!
Baseball is a family favorite sport. Abby grew up a Chicago Cubs fan and Robbie grew up a New York Yankees fan. Robbie’s dad was a minor league player with the Boston Red Sox organization, therefore the first ballpark Robbie ever visited was Fenway Park in Boston. Following tradition, Robbie and Abby brought their oldest son Mac to Fenway Park for his first major league ballpark visit. Robbie a life-long Yankees fan says, “I love the Yankees, but I don’t hate the Red Sox.” Robbie celebrated his first Father’s Day watching the Yankees play the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
The family loves going to Charleston RiverDogs games and while visiting Abby’s parents in Myrtle Beach, they always try to squeeze in a Myrtle Beach Pelicans game, a Class A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Robbie and Abby have a long-term goal, to take the kids to visit all 30 Major League Baseball ballparks.
Family has always been important to Robbie and Abby. “It’s hectic, it’s crazy, but we’re a team. We cook, we eat dinner around the table every night; that’s our time, that’s sacred”, declared Robbie. The new pool in the backyard provides endless hours of entertainment. Friday nights are reserved for pizza. They also love playing Disney trivia as a family. Most Saturdays are spent cheering on the kids at their various sporting events.
They enjoy riding bikes together through the neighborhood. People often look at them like they are crazy with 4 kids, but Abby laughs, “It’s fun, it’s fulfilling, I wouldn’t have it any other way!” They’re livin’ the dream every day!