Teacher Feature – Kelly Surette

Music teacher, Kelly Surette, has done some amazing things for the CCCBSD music program since she joined the team in September 2017. Enthusiastic, passionate, and kind, Kelly connects with her students through her love for children and teaching. Before CCCBSD, Kelly worked for a company that focused on special needs music programming across the state of Massachusetts. Though she has always wanted to pursue a career involving music, she only discovered her true passion for special needs music through her grad school thesis where she created an entire special needs music program. She studied Music Business during her graduate years at Northeastern University, but found her thesis inspiration from a childhood friend. Kelly grew up with a best friend who had Williams Syndrome, and they were in plays together, “She was always in the back row, and I saw that if there was an opportunity for students to have access to music on their level then she would have been the star.” Now at CCCBSD, Kelly makes sure that each and every student has the opportunity to become a star in their own individual way.

Transitioning from her previous job to CCCBSD proved to be challenging initially for Kelly. At first, she tried to search for other Massachusetts music teachers of the deaf to collaborate with and share ideas, but she could not find a single one. Kelly believes music is absolutely essential for any person, no matter who they are, where they come from, what they deal with day-to-day, or even how they hear music. She believes that it is an integral part of being human, and goes beyond what most people experience with their ears. She says, “Working here has changed my relationship with music; I went to the Boston Conservatory and studied musical theater and everything was about the auditory experience of music. Now, music has become about how I access the vibrations when I’m listening to music.” In fact, Kelly says that the physical components to music might be even more important than the auditory. For students at CCCBSD, Kelly explains, “It’s not about being able to proficiently play the cello; it’s about feeling the music and having that be a part of your heart and soul.”

Despite the challenges that Kelly’s line of work often has, she loves and is proud of what she does. At the end of the day, she goes home exhausted, having given all of herself to her work and her students, but she describes it as a “good tired.” She loves watching her students come out of their shells and make huge strides. Kelly looks positively towards the future and wants people to understand how vital music is for every single person. As technology advances and time goes on, she hopes to gather more accessibility tools to further her students musical education. Overall, Kelly believes she gets as much from her students as they do from her: “I think that the best part is the blessing of having them in my life, just being able to know them and watch them grow. I love seeing the changes in the students who wouldn’t even come into the music room, and now they’re fully singing songs through many modes of communication. It’s been a gift to be able to watch them grow and have them in my life.”