Get to Know Ms. Ouellette
My name is Emily Ouellette and I am the voice director for grades 4-12 at the American Overseas School of Rome (AOSR). I also serve as the general music teacher for upper elementary, as well as the drama teacher for middle school. My previous position was teaching lower elementary general music for five years in Michigan, USA. While employed in Italy, I have served as the co-director of the middle and high school drama plays. I also enjoy being a part of our school's "Sunshine Club," a group that serves teachers and staff to provide community and positive support, during both celebration and sorrow.
I graduated in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in Music Education from the University of Michigan, and and have completed professional development coursework in Orff and Gordon's Music Learning Theory. While employed in Michigan, I trained as a specialist in Music Together, an early childhood music curriculum, and worked with my district's special education department to bring the research-based curriculum to our classes at the preschool level. I also volunteered as a coach for Girls on the Run, an organization that promotes healthy and positive lifestyle choices for girls. Prior to moving to Italy, I filled in as the Children’s Music Interim Director for a local church and coached for the middle school softball team. Over the summers, I taught music to grades K-12 at a special education summer camp and assisted in high school marching band camps. On most days of the week, you can now find me after school teaching private piano, bassoon, ukulele, and voice lessons, or participating in our school's drama or athletic programs. These teaching opportunities have given me the chance to work with students of all ages and skills, showing me the importance of addressing the individual needs of all students in the classroom.
Part of the addressing the needs of all students is finding a language in which they understand, even if it is nonverbal. During coursework, I participated in a music cultural exchange program where I traveled to Shanghai, Xi'an, and Beijing, China. During this exchange we had the opportunity to collaborate with Chinese ensembles from universities and affiliated high schools. While I prepared for my visit by learning as much Mandarin as I could, I frequently came across situations where a language barrier made communication difficult. What first seemed like an obstacle, however, turned into a learning opportunity. Over the course of the trip, we found more effective ways to communicate, including modeling, singing, and non-verbal methods of communication. I also gained a new perspective of students who are in a classroom where their primary language is not spoken.
Since my trip to China, I have had opportunities visit schools in Tornesch and Schorndorf, Germany. I reached out to teachers who invited me to observe their classroom as well as lead lessons with their students. Each visit to a classroom has shed light on a different path in education. I always welcome the unique perspective and background knowledge that each child brings and work to incorporate it in the classroom. I make sure to address different learning styles by using multiple modes of learning in the classroom, including singing, movement, reading, chanting, writing, and playing instruments.
No matter what is in your lesson plan, however, nothing can be accomplished without making the curriculum relatable to the student. Learning student interests can be a great tool and provide a safe place for students to express ideas and create music. Although no two classrooms are the same, I have discovered something that connects all students... They love to play! I always work to make music instruction playful and naturally engaging for all students.
I have enjoyed being part of the AOSR family. My students’ safety and growth will always be my highest priority, and I will be there for them as much as I can. Through my experience I have found that teaching is a two-way street; you can learn from your students just as much as they learn from you. I am eager to both teach and learn in this enriching field of work.