INFLUENCER OF THE WEEK: Stephen Corneau, Horizon West Middle School

Mr. Corneau is the director of instrumental music at HWMS and teaches multiple skill levels.

  • West Orange Times & Observer
  • News
  • Share

Stephen Corneau is the band director and orchestra and guitar teacher at Horizon West Middle School and is responsible for teaching students how to perform on all the musical instruments. He teaches several levels of band, orchestra and guitar, as well as Jazz Studies.

“Mr. Corneau … has been with us since the inception of the school, tirelessly building an outstanding program,” Principal Michelle Thomas said. “His leadership in the performing arts department has resulted in remarkable performances and enriched our school community.”

What brought you to your school?

After moving to Florida from Connecticut I started with OCPS at Colonial High School. I have taught both high school and middle school throughout the last 23 years. I feel I have a greater impact at the middle school level. It is amazing introducing them to instruments and molding them into young musicians.


What do you love most about your school?

Opening a new school was one of the most difficult things I have ever done, but I love that we have built it from the ground up. My colleagues and I are creating traditions and experiences and molding the culture of our school as a team. I work with some of the greatest admins in OCPS, and our performing arts team is amazing!

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I love seeing my students succeed beyond the level that I attained in middle school. As a middle school teacher, I enjoy starting them on their musical journeys and watching them continue into college still performing. Many of my past students have become performers and music educators.

What would you be if you weren’t in this profession?

I would be a firefighter or involved in some area of the fire service. While living in Connecticut, I was highly involved as a volunteer firefighter for over 17 years. I enjoyed being a first responder and working with my department. I retired from my department at the rank of captain; I currently hold multiple certifications and was a state-certified trainer. While with the department I ran the Cadet Program for high school students introducing them to the fire service.

Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?

Any music teacher will always tell you that they were influenced by their high school band or orchestra director. My band director, Mr. Novack, had the most influence on the career path and my success as a performer and teacher. He gave me many opportunities to grow as a musician and educator. I still speak with him often, and he is still performing and teaching to this day.

What is your favorite children’s book and why?

“Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” or anything from Mo Willems. These were some of my favorite books we read to my son. The Elephant and Piggy series is also a fan favorite.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I enjoy traveling with my family. We love cruising and camping in our travel trailer. Fort Wilderness is one of our favorite camping spots. Last summer we towed it all the way to Key West, which was incredible. This summer we will be traveling to Europe for the first time, and I’m very excited to experience it with my family.

If you could dine with any famous person, past or present, who would it be and why?

John Williams (composer) — his influence on music and film scoring is unmatched in this century. I have seen him conduct many times; I think it would be fun to ask him about his approach to composing and what influences his writing.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

I think life would be easier if I had the ability to communicate in all languages. For many of our students at HWMS, English is not their primary language. I am always working to find ways to better communicate with my students.

If you could only listen to three bands or artists, who would they be and why?

Being a musician, this is one of the toughest questions to answer. I enjoy all genres of music from classical to rock. Most of my favorites are due to growing up in the Boston area, as many performed there regularly and even started there. Favorite trumpet performer/educator, Maynard Ferguson; favorite orchestra, The Boston Symphony; favorite rock band, Aerosmith.

What was your go-to lunch and favorite snack as an elementary student?

As an elementary student, my favorite meal was Kraft Macaroni and Cheese; favorite snack would have to be Cheez-It.

What is your favorite holiday and why?

Being from Salem, Massachusetts, I would have to say that Halloween is my favorite holiday. I always enjoyed going out with my friends and seeing who could get the most candy. I enjoy it even more here in Florida since we don’t have to deal with frigid temperatures or snow.

Who was your best friend when you were in school and why? Are you still in touch?

I had many friends throughout high school and college; we were all involved in music and stayed together for many years. I am still in contact with many of them who continue to play and teach all over the U.S.

What were your extracurricular activities as a student? Did you win any accolades or honors?

I have always been highly involved in music. In high school I was band vice president, section leader and lead trumpet in the jazz program.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

Latest News