To make the occasion more special, the couple's fifth grade teacher was also present to witness them get engaged.
Simon Jenkins and Peyton Wynn's love story began a little over a decade ago when the two were just 11 years old and friends in a fifth grade classroom in Alabama. As fate would have it, they wound up back in the exact same classroom on their 10th anniversary last month, except this time, Jenkins was down on one knee, asking the love of his life to marry him. Speaking to PEOPLE about the sentimental proposal, Wynn revealed that she had been expecting the couple—both now 21—to celebrate their big anniversary on June 16 with a dinner date.
However, Jenkins had larger plans up his sleeve and Wynn found herself back at Johnson Elementary School in Pinson. "Little did I know we were actually going to the place it all started, and I finally got to say yes to the love of my life," she said. "It was like something out of a dream." Jenkins, who is preparing to enter the Air Force, told NBC affiliate WVTM-TV that he was quickly smitten when he first met his now-fiancee. "When I first set eyes on Peyton in elementary school, I felt my heart beat a little faster. There was just something special about Peyton," he revealed.
The pair found comfort and camaraderie in each other throughout their early teen years and in eighth grade, Jenkins said, it hit him that "Peyton could be the one. I knew that we had so much growing to do, but we were always together. We graduated from Pinson Valley High School in 2019." Meanwhile, Wynn—who just graduated from dental hygiene school—also admitted she knew there was "something special" about Jenkins, whom she referred to as her "best friend," shortly after they met. "We went to our first homecoming that fall together," she recalled.
When it came time to pop the big question, Jenkins' mother, who is an event planner, offered to help him make the occasion memorable. Once he came up with the perfect plan for the proposal, she quickly got to work, turning the couple's old classroom into a romantic paradise with signs, flowers and candles. "We were going out to eat to celebrate our tenth anniversary and my mom called," Jenkins said, recounting how it all went down. "She told me that she forgot something at her PTA meeting at Johnson Elementary School."
"I apologized to Peyton and told her we needed to stop by the school. You should have seen Peyton's face when she walked into that classroom," he added. To make the occasion even more special, Jenkins and Wynn's fifth grade teacher, Patti Hathorn, was also there to celebrate the big day. "For any teacher that is asked or wonders 'Why we do what we do,' my response is this: We get to watch more than just academic growth in our classrooms. We watch laughter. We watch friendships blossom and grow. We watch as these relationships continue to develop, and often we get to witness them last a lifetime. And, in some instances, we are privileged to be a part of this continuance," she wrote in a heartwarming Facebook post.
"It is in these most special moments that we (teachers) understand our 'why.' It has been my honor to witness many special moments in my former students' lives. It always brings tears of joy to know that I get to share in these moments, whether near or from afar," Hathorn continued. "It was such an honor to be asked to be present as Simon Jenkins proposed to his 5th-grade love. It is another moment that reminds me of my 'why' as I continue to love 'my' children each year."