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Outstanding Educator

Mark and MaryAnn Pettit

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05/01/2008 - The husband and wife team of Mark and MaryAnn Pettit are sitting among a small group of teens in the cafeteria at Frontier Middle School. It's after school and they're all watching a movie. I can see by the empty pizza boxes that all have devoured an impressive after-school snack.

Everyone seems riveted by the movie. Waiting to visit with the Pettits, I sit down and start watching with them. And I get drawn into the story. It's a life-and-death adventure. Inspirational. At the end, I'm all choked up and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.

Someone turns on the lights as MaryAnn heads to the front of the class and leads the discussion. Husband Mark looks on, beaming. MaryAnn's manner is down-to-earth, making it easy for the kids to relate to her. She asks the kids what they think. As I listen to their opinions and insights and to MaryAnn's responses, I find I'm drawn in. Gee, maybe I could join this after-school club. But, it's only for teens and I'm much older than that age group. M-u-u-u-u-ch older than that... Well, never mind.

The club is called JYC (Junior Youth Connection), a division of CEF (Christian Evangelism Fellowship). Besides the must-be-a-teenager thing, who else can come to these gatherings? First, a student must have a signed, parental-permission form, and, second... Second?... There is no second. There's not even a need for students to be schooled in "church knowledge." All they need to do is show up once a week for games and food and to learn more about how living in today's world can be impacted by knowing biblical principles. And how it can be impacted by not knowing biblical principles.

Take the movie they just watched, for instance. MaryAnn begins by asking the teens to compare the two lives of the main characters. How they behaved. The choices they made. And, because one of them died in the end saving his friend's life, how life is temporary, yet meaningful.

It's easy to tell Mark and MaryAnn love heading this club. As they visit with me after the meeting, their faces beam and their sentences overlap and my pen can hardly keep up.

For their day jobs, Mark and MaryAnn are both teachers in the District. Both are tutors. He at Casper Classical Academy and she at Grant School Elementary. Married since 1994, they have two daughters, Brittany (10) and Brianna (5).

Originally from Texas, Mark moved here with his family when he was a teen and graduated from Kelly Walsh. MaryAnn moved to Casper from New York City when she was in Jr. High and, with "a small-world-isn't-it?" perspective, she attended school on the very land where Frontier Middle School now stands.

Now very much at home here in Casper, they love the mountain, the snow, and the people. And, it's a great place to raise kids.

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