Sandra Legg taught in the same Twin Cities school district for 39 years — her entire career.

The same grade.

The same school.

The same classroom.

Legg was so committed to her profession and her kids at Palmer Lake Elementary in Brooklyn Park that she hardly left her sixth-grade room, except to grab lunch and come and go for the day.

Her students were so taken with her warmth and nurturing presence that her attraction at the annual school carnival routinely had the longest line. And the reading loft she had unofficially built in her class was a favorite of her young learners.

Legg, of Robbinsdale, died Jan. 8 from ovarian cancer. She was 61.

"The students dearly loved" that loft, said Judy Marn, who was Palmer Lake's principal in the early to mid-1990s. "I remember facing the challenge of fire marshal guidelines with her. They said it was not safe for students. She and I believed it created a land of learning and wonderment for her students."

Annabel Christiansen, who taught down the hall from Legg for many years, said her colleague "didn't leave her room very often. She'd grab her little lunch bag and be back in her room. She was devoted, devoted, devoted."

The loft and everything else in Legg's room was "made for the students for their comfort and relaxation," Christiansen added. "She had a knack for that."

Legg taught with "a special passion, a special love for life, adventure, experiencing, discovering," Marn said.

She had "the ability to create in each child she taught a sense of wonderment and excitement about learning," the former principal added. "She instilled in each child the belief that each of them could become whatever they would like to become. As an educator, this is the greatest gift any teacher can give a child."

The Hansons are one family whose closeness to Legg at Palmer Lake ran deep. Amy and Scott's daughter had Legg for a teacher. Scott also was a student of Legg's. Amy's mother-in-law and sister-in-law also were student teachers in Legg's classroom.

"Mrs. Legg was a wonderful teacher and life mentor to so many people," Amy Hanson said. " You could always find Mrs. Legg with the longest face-painting line at the annual school carnival."

Born Sandra Odegard in Eau Claire, Wis., Legg spent her early years in nearby Mondovi, before she and her family moved to Richfield when she was 7. She graduated from Richfield High School in 1970.

She earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Concordia College in St. Paul and a master's in education from the University of Minnesota.

While at Concordia, she assumed leadership positions in campus social activities and athletics, particularly softball and volleyball. During her senior year, she was chosen homecoming queen and was the first woman named Concordia's athlete of the year.

Legg is survived by her mother, Marlene Odegard, her husband, David; daughters Caitlin Sinnett and Galya Legg, and brothers Larry, Timothy and Lance Odegard. Services have been held.