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Posted August 30, 2012

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S.R. Marmon Elementary Teacher Energized for Start of New Year

Susan Leo-Russell is the Teacher of the Month for August.

August Teacher of the Month Susan Leo-Russell accepts a check from Pepsi representative Adrian Chavez.

The third full year of the Pepsi/APS Education Foundation Teacher of the Month award kicked off with a vote by teachers for one of their own. And it might be difficult to find one more motivated to be in her classroom than Susan Leo-Russell.

Leo-Russell, a first-grade teacher, has spent all of her 14 years with APS at Susie Rayos Marmon Elementary. She was selected for the award by her fellow teachers.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by my peers,” Leo-Russell said. “There are a lot of things that other teachers do with their parents or out in the community. This really means a lot.”

Life in Leo-Russell’s classroom includes learning sign language and using it to say the Pledge of Allegiance each day. Her students do a lot of individual projects to give them a chance to learn at their own pace, and she believes in using games in class. “Students don’t realize they’re learning something,” she said.

“I can see the ‘I can do it’ moment in students’ eyes. That’s what motivates me.”

Leo-Russell received congratulations and loud applause when presented with the award in front of the S.R. Marmon staff. The school’s principal, Sandra Fernandez, concurred with the staff’s vote.

“Susan’s life is about this school. She doesn’t talk about being a good teacher, she lives it,” Fernandez said. “Her peers love her and she’s a real advocate for teachers.”

Pepsi and the Foundation present the monthly recognition for teachers. Award-winners receive $100 from Pepsi.

“Susan Leo-Russell is an excellent teacher, but as I told the S.R. Marmon staff, this award is really about all teachers,” APS Education Foundation Executive Director Phill Casaus said. ”Pepsi and the Foundation are putting a face on a hard-working, dedicated group of professionals who deserve to be honored for all they do for our kids.”

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