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Posted December 22, 2009

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McKinley's Landis named APS Foundation/Pepsi Teacher of the Month

Justin Landis accepts his Pepsi Teacher of the Month Award.

McKinley Middle School English teacher Justin Landis believes in the things teenagers can accomplish if they’re given the chance. In December, Landis got the chance to be named APS Teacher of the Month at a school assembly. 

Landis was recognized for his outstanding work with students and contributions to the community in an honor created this year by Pepsi and the APS Education Foundation. The Foundation randomly chooses one school each month, and the school’s principal is asked to select the teacher. Teachers receive a $50 check from Pepsi and recognition on the APS Web site and Facebook page. 

 In his fourth year at McKinley, Landis was selected by principal Jane Sichler not only as an eighth-grade teacher, but for leading the student council and its fund-raising efforts in the community. He also coaches the boys’ track team. The student council has raised hundreds of dollars over the past couple of years for UNM Children’s Hospital, breast cancer awareness and other worthy causes. 

“Mr. Landis has helped us raise a lot of money,” said eighth-grader Tyler Narvaez, student council vice president and one of Landis’ students. “He’s taught us a lot and makes it fun. He listens to us and is respectful of what we have to say.” 

Landis said it’s important to bring a positive attitude into the classroom each day and “sell” the kids on how much fun learning is. He loves to watch “the sense of pride they gain” as they learn. He said teenagers get a bad rap, but in reality are capable of achieving anything. 

“When kids are given the opportunity, they are impressive,” Landis said. “They just need a safe place to accomplish things and build their confidence.”

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