Choir Program Revamps With New Directors

Left: Jenna McLean Right: Kimberly McConnell


Cori Getzendanner, Writer, Reporter

One travelled 2,000 miles. One drove 20 minutes. This year, CHHS replenished the choir program with two brand-new directors from completely different backgrounds. 

After Thomas Rinn and Nicholas Standish both left the choir program, the district had to hurry to find two new directors before the 2021-2022 school year. They eventually came up with Kimberly McConnell, from Oregon, and Jenna McLean, from Texas’ very own Coppell. 

Kimberly McConnell came to Colleyville, Texas all the way from the Pacific Northwest to become head director for the choir program. She has been teaching music for 35 years with a Bachelor’s degree in music education and Master’s degree in music, both from the University of Oregon. 

“[Texas is different from Oregon because] there’s lots more bugs; different kinds of bugs,” McConnell said.  “It’s hotter. Oregon cools down at night, and it doesn’t cool down at night [in Texas.] I would say there’s lots more people here, but I’m loving it. There’s no mountains here. It’s kind of cool, though. The sky looks bigger because there are no mountains. ” 

Jenna McLean has been teaching for three years with a Bachelor’s degree in music education and a Master’s degree in choral conducting, both from Baylor University. McLean actually planned to be a biology major but the music school contacted her and said they would pay her to go there. However, this isn’t her first time at CHHS. She was actually a student teacher with Rinn a few years back.

“I love this school year,” McLean said. “This is kind of like, I could have never dreamed of having this job at this school, because I student-taught here with the previous choir director and I always loved the atmosphere here and it’s just been really great.”

The choir directors have high hopes and big plans for this year.  For now, however, they will focus on building the program and getting more students involved. McLean specifically wants to present more “opportunities for students to get involved” and for them to have more “ownership and participation.” 

“I’m looking forward to getting to know the choirs and the choir program a little bit better,” McLean said. “We’re in week two. While I have memorized everybody’s names, I still need to get to know everyone, and so I’m really looking forward to that and I’m really looking forward to seeing how high we can get that level of music-making this year.”

Even though they are both experienced and skilled teachers, McConnell and McLean still learn more every day, whether it be that their parking spot is terrible or something slightly more profound.  

“[I’ve learned] that all students gain value from being in a select situation, or in something they  can take part in. It doesn’t have to be music… Students feel much more valued and invested when they can have something that they do that they’re successful at, and that they can feel. They can be part of a family.”

This year McConnell and McLean have big plans for the choir program. There will be a trip to Disney World over spring break and throughout the year the calendar will stay the same, including UIL contests, festivals, and annual activities. Besides the regular events, the directors hope to learn more about their students and what they do outside of choir.

“My biggest hope is really creating, or continuing, a feeling of family culture that everyone feels valued and accepted and part of the family.”