Henrico’s Top Teachers – Amy El-Khouri

Amy El-Khouri’s passion for singing and music began early in her childhood when she sang for church choirs, played piano and even ran rehearsals in high school when her teacher was absent. At 37 years old she has transformed her passion into an impactful career that allows her to use her talents and be surrounded by what she loves as the choral director at Deep Run High School.

“Music and choir was the place I felt most connected,” said El-Khouri. “I had some really fantastic music teachers that helped me grow and gave me confidence, and I wanted to give that to other people. If you’ve been performing long enough, you realize teaching is just a different type of performance.”

El-Khouri grew up in Henrico County and attended Three Chopt Elementary, Tuckahoe Middle and Tucker High. She said teaching and music have always been a part of her life, since her dad served as assistant principal for Thompson Middle and Mosby Middle in Richmond.

“It was great for me to grow up in Henrico County where so many things were going well, “said El-Khouri. “I grew up going to school on teacher work week and putting up bulletin boards and helping arrange the classroom, which prepared me for that part of teaching. I feel like I’m giving back to the community that got me started, which is very rewarding.”

One week after graduating from UNC Charlotte with a double major in music education and performance, El-Khouri had an interview for a teaching position at Pocahontas Middle School. She was only 22 years old when she began her career.

“I started teaching right away. Workers in the cafeteria asked for my lunch number when I was in line for lunch, and some of the parents would make comments that I wasn’t older than their oldest child,” said El-Khouri. “It was a funny situation because I was so young, but everyone was very accepting of me and patient.”

After spending three years at Pocahontas, she moved to Deep Run when the school first opened and has been there for the past 15 years. El-Khouri teaches students at all levels, including two audition women's choirs, an audition mixed chamber choir, a concert choir and a show choir.

“It’s great to teach students for longer than a semester or year, because I really get to know them and make that long-term connection, especially when more than one student in the family comes through,” said El-Khouri. “I get to see their confidence in singing grow, and it’s wonderful to know that they know they’ve improved.”

For students, being able to open up to El-Khouri and feel comfortable is something they cherish.

"Mrs. El-Khouri helps her students by placing them where they can succeed and always has confidence in us,” wrote one student. "She has also been a confidante for those who feel depressed or anxious and is willing to do whatever she can to make you feel safer."

El-Khouri strives to help students gain confidence, feel more comfortable giving presentations and be creative and learn in a way that is not bound by the pressures of standardized testing. The music program at Deep Run is designed to benefit students, as the skills they learn in the choir classroom expand far beyond just music. One student said that El-Khouri is a daily inspiration to her class.

"Mrs. El-Khouri inspires her chorus students every day," the student wrote. "She always reminds us how working hard and keeping a positive attitude is the best way to achieve our goals. She also is extremely trustworthy and her students feel like they can talk to her about anything. Mrs. El-Khouri is the kind of person who can make your day better just by smiling at you or telling you a heart-warming family story.”

“I know the kids, and it’s also nice to be able to share more about yourself and my personal experience with music,” said El-Khouri. “You have to like what you’re doing, love what you teach and love the people you’re teaching – regardless of who they are – and be yourself. I’ve seen how a warm and loving environment can shape kids into such wonderful people. “
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September 2017

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Henrico's Top Teachers

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