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) in Italy. 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 in Michigan, USA. While working at AOSR, I have served as the co-director of elementary, 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.
For the past eight years, I have held positions in general music, choir, and drama. These positions have allowed me to work with grade levels K-12, including an Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) program for preschool children. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Michigan and have completed coursework in Orff Schulwerk and Gordon's Music Learning Theory. My primary instruments are bassoon and piano, I played clarinet in the University of Michigan Marching Band, and I use voice, guitar and ukulele frequently in my music classroom. Over the summers, I’ve provided music instruction for special education summer camps, and I’ve assisted with summer band programs. I’ve completed training as a specialist for Music Together, an early childhood music curriculum, and in collaboration with my district, obtained licensing to provide the in-school curriculum to our ECSE classes. In the United States, I volunteered as a coach for Girls on the Run, an organization that promotes healthy and positive lifestyle choices for girls.
On most days of the week, you can find me after school teaching private piano, bassoon, or voice lessons, as well as leading drama rehearsals. These teaching opportunities have given me the chance to work with students of all ages, backgrounds, and perspectives. I’ve learned that every individual brings with them a unique set of experiences, and it is essential to find and address the needs of every individual in the classroom.
Part of the addressing the needs of all students is finding all effective methods of communication, from visual, to 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, with rehearsals and presentations led by both American and Chinese professors. school's professors. Over the course of the trip, we found more effective ways to communicate, especially when a language barrier made verbal language too difficult. These methods include modeling, non-verbal, and singing, and have now become a staple. I also gained a new perspective of students who are in a classroom where their primary language is not spoken.
Music lessons are powerful in that they possess a natural ability to deliver content across a variety of modes, ensuring that every learner finds a channel in which to engage in deeper understanding. Teachers and paraeducators have affirmed that often in music class, students have successful and incredible moments of engagement when classes use a variety of modes, including singing, movement, reading, chanting, writing, and playing instruments.
Since my trip to China, I have had opportunities visit schools in Tornesch and Schorndorf, Germany, as well as teach and live in Rome, Italy. Every 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.
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.