Colleen McKenna (previously Ms. Harrah)
Hello, I’m Ms. Harrah!

I am a teacher of 3rd-4th grade students in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Program at Chase. Our DHH program opened in 2015 and I helped to set the foundation for it in its initial stages. It has continued to expand throughout the years, and I am thrilled to remain a part of Chase’s community. I have been teaching for thirteen years in deaf education (one year as an educational interpreter, one year in a total communication program, and eleven in an oral/aural program). I earned my bachelor’s degree in deaf education at Illinois State University. I then became National Board Certified in 2011 and just recertified this year. This has allowed me to be a leader in Washington, D.C. to help support federal funding for students and teachers in Chicago. In 2013, I went on to get a master’s degree in reading after studying abroad and working in schools in Brisbane and Sydney, Australia. Last year I also received an ESL Special Education Approval. Currently, I am working on finishing my last year in a doctoral program to earn a degree in special education leadership. I have received two Rochelle Lee Teacher Awards that have provided me with valuable updated resources and tools to better the reading and language skills of the students with which I work.

As a teacher of elementary school students, I believe in helping students to grow into critical thinkers, independent leaders, self-advocates, and active members in the school, neighborhood, and Deaf community. To help support them with this, I am highly involved in grant writing to provide students with the appropriate tools and materials they need. This includes flexible seating in our classroom (received this year), being on Chicago’s planning committee for the 5K Walk4Hearing (bring additional funds directly to our DHH program), bringing an outdoor classroom/edible learning garden to our school, and being awarded two grants to build our classroom library through the Working in the Schools (WITS) program. I also believe in consistent communication with parents and families and that building strong relationships is vital for the success of the students and school as a whole.

In my free time, I love to read, hang out with my nieces and nephews, and volunteer at the Chicago Park District. This year I have spent a lot of my time, however, planning my wedding! I am getting married this July and cannot wait!