Teaching by Example

Maria and James Landon

Maria and James '69 Landon

James '69 and Maria Landon

Known for always having a “fun” pen in hand and wearing the color red, Maria Landon made an impression in the classroom and won over the hearts of all her students during the 27 years she taught marketing at Grand Valley.

“For me it was all about the students and relationships,” Maria explained. “I loved to take students from point zero to as far as they wanted to go in their learning.”

Maria’s husband, James Landon ’69, a Grand Valley alum and Maria’s biggest supporter, will tell you that Maria’s impact reached far beyond the classroom.

“Maria is very modest. The marketing plan that the students would do for her class, many of them used that to get positions and jobs,” said James. “I have a book at home with many, many letters from students thanking Maria for her guidance and her help. We even have letters from parents thanking Maria for watching over their kids who were far from home.”

Maria was proud to share her passion and mentor the next generation of marketing professionals both in and out of the classroom. For years she served as the advisor for the Grand Valley chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA), and she felt it helped her grow as a teacher.

"It kind of got me out of my box and helped me become a better person and a better teacher,” said Maria.

One of Maria’s most memorable moments with her students was submitting a piece for ArtPrize. Every day Maria would take a “fun” pen to class. Some matched her outfits, some were holiday themed, and many even played music. These pens became a conversation piece and part of her signature. One day, a student suggested she submit her pens to ArtPrize. That’s how “Every Pen Has a Story” was created. She took the pens she had, and the ones given to her by students, to create a piece of art that celebrated the relationship she had with each of her students.

Making the decision to retire wasn’t easy for Maria. It was hard to let go of something she loved so much. That’s when James suggested they create a scholarship. This way, even if Maria wasn’t physically in the classroom, she would still be supporting students and their future careers.

“We wanted to continue something in her name, for the students, and for the school that we both love. So, we established the Maria Landon Marketing Scholarship,” said James.

The Maria Landon Marketing Scholarship was created in 2017 and was the second scholarship established specifically for Grand Valley marketing students. It reduces the financial pressure many students and their families face, and it helps marketing students complete their degrees.

“I think it’s important to give to Grand Valley because Grand Valley has given so much to us,” said Maria. “As the giver, to know you made a small impact in someone’s life, it’s a blessing. If we can help students, we feel good about that, and we hope others will do the same thing.”

Page last modified November 3, 2022