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News from the Education Foundation

Posted: April 28, 2015

Teacher Grows Music Program at Truman

Band and orchestra teacher Melissa Lane is this month's Pepsi/APS Education Foundation Teacher of the Month.

What Melissa Lane likes most about teaching band, orchestra and choir at Truman Middle School is seeing her students grow as musicians. Since she took the job four years ago, she has seen the music program grow from two orchestras and two bands to three orchestras, three bands and a choir.

"I love to see that the students are interested in music and are staying in the groups for their three years at Truman," said this month's Pepsi/APS Education Foundation Teacher of the Month. "We have fun making music together and because I have many of these students for three years, we become like a second family."

Lane, who did her teacher training in Michigan, said she is grateful to the Truman administration and elective department that took a chance on hiring her. "I was fresh out of college with only student teaching and substitute teaching under my belt," she recalls. "They took a chance on me and have allowed me to shape the program in my own way."

When Principal Judy Martin-Tafoya became principal at Truman in 2003, there were only 12 students in the music program. When Lane started four years ago, that number had grown to 80. Now, there are more than 200 students in the program, and almost all of them return year after year. And the numbers are increasing. 

"To get the students to want to learn music, I choose pieces that teach necessary musical concepts but will also be interesting for the students to learn," Lane said. "While we don't have a lot funding for our program, I don't let that hold the students back. I provide extra performance opportunities and stay after school to help the students improve their playing ability. I try to instill and share my love of music with the students because ultimately, I would like them to develop a lifelong love of music."

Pepsi, in partnership with the APS Education Foundation, recognizes APS teachers for their outstanding contribution to the classroom, school and community.  The Foundation randomly selects one APS school each month, and that school’s principal or staff chooses a teacher to be honored. The teacher receives a $100 check from Pepsi and acknowledgement on the APS website, social media and electronic billboards.