This article originally appeared in the Wellington Daily News on June 7th, 2006 Pettigrew retired after 28 years
Kennedy Elementary fifth grade teacher Sandy Pettigrew still remembers her fourth grade teacher in Jackson, Miss., after all these years.
The teacher was Mrs. Paine and Pettigrew said this teacher saw her for who she really was and helped her realize that she could do things.  Pettigrew said her fourth grade year was a tough one for her and her family, and Mrs. Paine helped her through that time and made a big impact on her life.
Now, Pettigre has finished up her 28 years of teaching and has decided to retire.  
Pettigrew has taught all of her 28 years in the Wellington school district.  Her first year of teaching was at Lincoln Elementary, where she taught second grade.  She took some years off after that to raise her three daughters.  Then she has spent the last 27 years at Kennedy Elementary where she has taught first and fourth grades, with the majority of that time teaching fifth graders.  
She said she has experienced several “warm fuzzies” being a teacher.  Pettigrew said it is rewarding to see former students who have achieved their life goals, whether it was college, a certain job, or getting married.  
“The joy in seeing them achieve their goals keeps me hanging in there,” Pettigrew said.  
When Pettigrew started college, she was interested in doing something in the music field or teaching.  She attended her first year of college in Texas, but then transferred to Phillips University in Enid, Okla., where her father, who was a minister, was transferred to a church.
At the time, the nation was in desperate need of teachers, she said.  After prayers, Pettigrew felt that teaching was her calling.  
“I have never doubted where I should be,” she said.
She received her bachelor’s degree at Phillips and then met her husband Dennis Pettigrew, who is from Wellington, and began her new married life on a wheat farm.  She later received a masters degree from Southwestern College.
Pettigrew said there are many things about her profession that has experienced change, either because of changes in society or teaching techniques.  However, Pettigrew said, the children have not changed.  They still want a positive atmosphere, leadership, consistency, and to be treated fairly.  She said she believes that children need to be shown respect as well as respect being expected from them.  She said respect in the student-teacher relationship is reciprocal.  
She added that children like for their teachers to admit when they made a mistake, to be honest, and to share stories about themselves.  Pettigrew pointed out that she has told her students stories about experiences raising her family, living on a farm, and her years growing up.  She has even shared times when she has had difficulty learning a subject, encouraging them that they can overcome struggles, too.  
Pettigrew had two students this past year who are twins, Logan and Savannah Hay, who are the children of Kevin Hay, who was in the very first class she taught at Lincoln.  
The last few weeks of school gave Pettigrew some teary-eyed moments.  Her students in the D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) graduation last month gave her a big cheer during the ceremony.  Also in April, she had left for a few days when her grandchild was born and she returned to a bulletin board in her honor that read “You touched the future and our hearts—We will miss you.”  The bulletin board had several pictures of her with former classes that she has taught over the years.
Pettigrew said she doesn’t know what she will do after retirement, but she said not having a schedule to live by is going to be a challenge for her.  She does know she wants to visit her grandchildren and travel with her husband.  She said she also plans to remain active with her church choir in Wichita and work part-time at Phoebe’s.  
She said her class was demonstrative about their feelings on her retiring and she added they were a fun bunch to work with.  She said she’s also had great administrators over the years.  
“I’ve never felt cheated teaching in a small town,” Pettigrew said.
Although she will miss teaching, she said it is time to move onto something else.  
“I hope I’ve made a difference, because they have made a difference in me,” she said.  
Although the Pettigrews no longer farm, they still live in the area.  According to friends of the family, she and Dennis are very active in Immanuel Baptist Church in Wichita.