In addition to teaching music education at EMU, Rothfeld is also a full-time elementary school vocal music teacher at Thurston Elementary School in Ann Arbor, where she teaches preschool through fifth grade and constantly adds new and innovative components to her curriculum.
“My students, as well as the parents and teachers at my school helped to contribute to the award,” Rothfeld said. “It helps to teach at a school and district where I feel so much support for the music program as well as the arts. I am constantly changing my lesson plans to challenge my students more and more. And they always rise to the challenge.”
The UMS DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year Award celebrates the area’s excellence in arts education and the importance of the arts in teaching 21st century knowledge and skills. Thurston Elementary Students will receive a field trip to a UMS concert next year, along with a visit from a UMS presenter at school.
“Thurston Elementary School has a very diverse population, and to have students see performers from their own cultures or from classmates' cultures is a great way to teach the students about countries and customs,” Rothfeld said of interacting with UMS.
“This is also an added layer to teaching students repertoire from other parts of the world. They get to see the instruments playing on the stage, watch the performers, and experience the performances first-hand. The level of excitement in the audience is amazing. Afterward, they gain an understanding that they wouldn't have if we just talked about it, or listened to recordings.”
In 2015, Rothfeld launched a successful program at Thurston to purchase ukuleles – an instrument that she says lends itself particularly well to teaching melody, harmony, singing, improvising and storytelling.
Rothfeld also takes her fourth-grade students once a year to the University of Michigan to present in a music education course. She also presents yearly at the Michigan Music Conference in Grand Rapids.
Eastern Michigan University’s School of Music and Dance is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music and offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in music education. Additional post-baccalaureate certificates in elementary and secondary education are also available.
About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest university in Michigan. It currently serves 20,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.