Camellia Bissessar earns award for innovation in educational experience

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Music is a discipline that is fairly sensory: visually reading music, kinaesthetically playing instruments or making rhythms with your hands and of course hearing the music in the auditory sense. Camellia Bissessar aims to change just how difficult the music world can be to someone with impairment to any of these regions.

Bissessar, a 2018 graduate of Laurier’s Faculty of Music with a BMus degree, was also the recipient of the teaching excellence award for 2018. She was a teaching assistant with the Accessible Learning Centre helping students in music who were visually impaired help to be able to grasp concepts in their courses as efficiently as other students.

The teaching excellence award honours faculty members, lab instructors and student teachers who are committed to making a difference in the educational experience at Laurier through their teaching innovations, and nominations are accepted by anyone who believes someone they know has changed the way people learn at Laurier.

Bissesar won the award in the undergraduate category, with many contributions to the school over her time here. “It feels like a chance to show what I’ve done and make another side of music and education that people may not be aware of,” Bissessar says of her award. “One of my most important roles is the EA to visually impaired students and being in a visually heavy discipline, it’s very challenging going through that with any sort of disability.”

The ALC is a service available to students with learning disabilities or impairments that may affect their schoolwork to give them an equal opportunity to succeed at Laurier. “I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to inform people about that empower students to have their own voices.” Bissessar said.

Bissessar has also created multiple workshops and programs for Laurier’s JUMP program, which stands for Junior University Multidisciplinary Program, which is open to students grades 5-8 during May and June.

Bissessar is not only an assistant helping visually impaired students in music, but wants to bring together all those who have passions for education and music, as she was former president of the Students’ Association for Music Educators, also known as SAME.

“SAME is a group of students in the faculty of music. What we hope to do is create a community of likeminded educators and individuals in the faculty of music. We host events and workshops that are education centred,” Bissessar said.

SAME not only aims to bring these initiatives to students in the faculty of music, but their reach extends beyond the realm of Laurier and shows the community just how much of an impact education in music can have.

“Every other year we host in partnership with the faculty of music an elementary music conference and socials so people can share their stories and experiences,” Bissessar states.

Bissessar has also created multiple workshops and programs for Laurier’s JUMP program, which stands for Junior University Multidisciplinary Program, which is open to students grades 5-8 during May and June. This program is designed to introduce younger students to university life, getting them prepared to tackle high school in preparation of what they would like to do in university.

Bissessar’s teaching journey will not end with her graduation from Laurier, as she is already following a path to become an educator globally as she sets across the ocean. “I would like to pursue teacher’s college, that will probably be in a year or two, but for the following year I will be moving to Poland and teaching English as a second language to students there.”

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