About us

Mission Statement

CCHAT Center Sacramento is a unique auditory/oral school whose mission is to teach children who are deaf and hard of hearing to listen and develop spoken language.

Core Values

  • 1. Communication
  • 2. Building a community of learners
  • 3. Honoring and respecting individual differences
  • 4. Change with a positive purpose
  • 5. Commitment and responsibility to community

Educational Philosophy

The cognitively-based curriculum and individualized speech and language therapy services are the foundation of the educational philosophy at the school. We believe that deaf and hard of hearing children, regardless of the severity of their hearing loss, can learn to listen and communicate orally. Our small staff/student ratio ensures a caring, supportive, and nurturing environment optimizing the acquisition of listening, learning, and speaking skills. School-wide thematic-integrated instruction provides each child the opportunity to advance speech and language skills according to individual developmental needs.

The school promotes and strongly encourages active parent involvement including participation in class, therapy, and school wide activities. Parental involvement is an integral component to each child's success. The highly qualified staff provides education and guidance to parents so that they may assist their child in developing independence and self-sufficiency.


Since opening on July 29, 1996, the school has occupied a unique position in the greater Sacramento area. As California's only auditory/oral school north of San Francisco, CCHAT serves students from a wide region. To date, CCHAT has served students from more than 30 school districts or county parent/infant programs.

Our Staff and Board

The CCHAT staff includes five deaf and hard-of-hearing teachers, six instructional aides, six speech-language pathologists and three audiologists supported by an administrative staff comprised of the Principal, Development Director and School Secretary.

Faculty & Staff Profiles: Teachers

Leah Lind - Leah joined the permanent teaching staff in 2004. She earned her B. S. in mathematics and economics at the University of California, Los Angeles and her teaching credential and M. A. in Special Education with an emphasis on the deaf and hard of hearing from the San Francisco State University. Leah is certified as a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS Cert AVED) by the Alexander Graham Bell Academy and is recognized as a specialist for providing a high level of service to families wishing to utilize listening and spoken language for their child who is deaf or profoundly hard of hearing.

Taci Juchcinski - Taci joined the CCHAT staff in 2008 as a teacher of the deaf. She graduated from Chico State with a BA in Speech Pathology. Taci attended San Francisco State and graduated with a Masters degree in Deaf Education.

Meredith Wright - Meredith joined CCHAT as an intern in the Spring of 2013 and is now a permanent staff member. She earned her B. A. and M. A. in Communicative Disorders with an option in Deaf Education from California State University, Fresno. She also holds a Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential.

Elizabeth Sawyer - Elizabeth joined the CCHAT teaching staff in 2014 as a teacher of the deaf. She earned her B.A. in Communicative Disorders at California State University, Fullerton and her M.S. in Deaf Education at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Charlotte Moore - Charlotte has been a teacher of the deaf since 2004 and came to CCHAT in 2016. She graduated from Kent State University with a B.S. in Deaf Education. She later went on to pursue her M.Ed with a focus in literacy development. She has experience working in Early Intervention, toddler/infant groups, as well as preschool through second grade classrooms. She spent 2.5 years at Utah State University as a Graduate Student supervisor for students completing their Masters work in Speech-Language Pathology and/or Deaf Education with a focus in Listening & Spoken Language.

Faculty & Staff Profiles: Clinical

Katie Isbell - Katie joined CCHAT in July 2016. She received her Au.D. (Doctor of Audiology) in 2013 from the University of Memphis and her B.A. in Audiology and Speech Pathology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2009. Katie lived and worked in Alaska for three years prior to staring at CCHAT, working with the Alaskan Native population. She completed her audiology externship at Pediatric Ear, Nose, and Throat of Atlanta in 2012-2013, and has a passion for working with children. Katie enjoys running, playing soccer, reading, travelling, and going to the theater.

Stephanie Raval - Stephanie joined CCHAT in 2014. She received her Au.D. (Doctor of Audiology) from San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego and her B.A. from University of California, Santa Cruz. She shares her time between CCHAT and also working for the University of the Pacific Hearing and Balance Center. Stephanie has a special interest in pediatrics and completed a year-long clinical externship at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, in Palo Alto. Stephanie enjoys playing with her golden retriever, Penny, and biking along the American River trail with her husband.

Lisa McWilliams - Lisa has been a Speech-Language Pathologist since 1992 and came to CCHAT in 1999. She received her B. S. in Speech Pathology & Audiology and an M. S. in Speech Pathology from California State University, Sacramento. Lisa serves as a Speech Language Pathology Coordinator. Lisa is certified as a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS Cert AVED) by the Alexander Graham Bell Academy and is recognized as a specialist for providing a high level of service to families wishing to utilize listening and spoken language for their child who is deaf or profoundly hard of hearing.

Michelle Harder - Michelle joined CCHAT in 2000 as a Speech-Language Pathologist. She earned her B. A. and M. A. degrees in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from California State University, Chico and previously worked in rehabilitation center settings. Michelle is certified as a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS Cert AVED) by the Alexander Graham Bell Academy and is recognized as a specialist for providing a high level of service to families wishing to utilize listening and spoken language for their child who is deaf or profoundly hard of hearing.

Jody Wassermann - Jody joined CCHAT in 2000. She earned B. S. and M. S. degrees in Speech Language Pathology from California State University, Sacramento and worked previously in both public school and rehabilitation center settings. She served as adjunct professor at California State University, Sacramento teaching Aural Rehabilitation. Jody is certified as a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS Cert AVED) by the Alexander Graham Bell Academy and is recognized as a specialist for providing a high level of service to families wishing to utilize listening and spoken language for their child who is deaf or profoundly hard of hearing.

Cindy Garcia - Cindy has been a Speech Pathologist since 1994 and previously worked at CCHAT from 1996-1999 when it first opened. She earned her B.A. and M.A. degree from California State University, Fresno. She previously worked for an oral school in Fresno, provided aural rehabilitation in private practice and worked in a variety of public school settings. Cindy has known she wanted to work with children with hearing impairments since her undergraduate years and she is excited to be back at CCHAT collaborating with families wishing to utilize listening and spoken language for their deaf and hard of hearing babies and children. She and her husband live in Roseville with their two teenage daughters.

Gigi Nelson - Gigi has been a Speech-Language Pathology Assistant and instructional aide at CCHAT since 2008. She received her B.S. in Speech Pathology & Audiology from California State University, Sacramento. She received her M.S. in Speech Pathology from Nova Southeastern University. During her clinical internships, she has worked with adults with swallowing problems and children with Apraxia, Autism, hearing impairments and various other speech and language delays.

Noemi Colmenares - Noemi has been a bilingual Speech and Language Pathology Assistant (SLPA) since 2012. She received her Bachelor of Science in Speech Pathology & Audiology from California State University of Sacramento. Noemi has worked at in-home, clinical and school settings. Previously, she worked for a private practice in Los Angeles where she provided speech therapy services to Spanish speaking families. She has experience working with infants and toddlers, school aged children and adolescents. Noemi has provided therapy services to a wide range of clients with, but not limited to: Autism, Down Syndrome, Apraxia of Speech, receptive and expressive delays, developmental delays, Social Pragmatics and Phonological Disorders.

Faculty & Staff Profiles: Administration & Development

Laura Covello - Principal and licensed audiologist as well as teacher of the deaf, Laura joined CCHAT in 2004 and was promoted to principal in 2006. She earned her B. A. in Communication Disorders from California State University, Long Beach, an M. A. in Communicative Disorders - Audiology from California State University, Los Angeles, and an M. Ed. in Special Education from the University of Utah. She currently holds an Administrative Services Credential.

Licia King - Development Director and parent of profoundly deaf twins who are bilaterally implanted, Licia joined the staff at CCHAT in 2006. During her time at CCHAT, she's taught the Toddler classes, facilitated the daily afternoon music class and now dedicates her time to fundraising and raising community awareness about the CCHAT Center.

Faculty & Staff: Board

The Board serves to aide and guide the CCHAT Center-Sacramento. Board activities focus on fundraising, outreach, and developing community partnerships.

John Porteous, Chairperson, Chairperson John Porteous, was born with a profound, bilateral hearing loss. He attended our sister school, Jean Weingarten Peninsula Oral School for the Deaf in Redwood City, for a year in 1982 when he was 4 years old, making the commute several times a week with his mother from Modesto. He was mainstreamed with his hearing peers in kindergarten. John enjoys being active outdoors and his varied interests include golfing, skiing, running, and fishing. He also enjoys hiking and back packing with his yellow lab. He feels very fortunate to have great friends and family and spends time with them as often as possible. John received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon and his Juris Doctorate Degree from Lincoln Law School of Sacramento.

Anne Harry, Past Chairperson, Anne is a parent representative on the CCHAT Center Board. Her son Mitchell was among the first children enrolled at CCHAT in 1996. Mitchell was mainstreamed into his neighborhood kindergarten in 1998 and graduated from the University of Virginia in 2015. Anne graduated from the University of California, Davis where she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma national sorority. She was involved with scouts and other youth activities when her sons were young. The Harrys are commercial cattle ranchers in three states.

Aman Bains, Treasurer, Aman grew up in Yuba City, CA where he helped his family on their ranch and with their retail businesses. He moved to Sacramento to attend CSUS. During college, he worked for the Water Resources Control Board in downtown Sacramento in the accounting department. He completed his BS degree in Accounting in 2004 and moved back to Yuba City to work in the family operations. In 2006, Aman started his banking career by joining a local startup bank called Sutter Community Bank where he became a Commercial Loan Officer. In 2013, he joined Community Business Bank and was promoted to the Local Area Manager of the West Sacramento branch. More recently, Aman took a position as the Yuba Sutter Market President with Suncrest Bank. His primary focus is on growing the branch through deposits and loans. Aman lives in Rocklin, CA with his wife and two girls. Aman joined the CCHAT board in 2015.

Jeanie Simpson, Secretary, Jeanie knows firsthand the amazing work being done at the CCHAT Center as the grandmother of an alumni student who was bilaterally implanted at 91/2 months of age. She taught elementary school for 25 years and has been a business owner in Rocklin for 32 years. Jeanie enjoys traveling, sewing and working in her garden. She said, I am interested in educating people about the CCHAT Center and the hope it gives parents as they watch children develop to their full potential in the area of listening and speaking. I think CCHAT has one of the most dedicated staffs in education and families are fortunate to be a part of this wonderful school.

Brian Staller, Brian is a Management Consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services LLC (PwC), within the Health Industry Advisory practice. He works with Fortune 500 companies and some of the largest commercial payer companies providing leadership with business strategy, large scale transformational initiatives, process improvement, governance, and planning and execution approaches. Brian is a California native who grew up in Benicia but has lived in the Sacramento area since 1992. He currently lives in Folsom, CA with his wife and kids and enjoys spending family time in the outdoors. Brian joined the CCHAT board in 2016.

Julia Ahlquist Tanner, Julia, Doctor of Audiology, has been in practice as an audiologist specializing in helping adults with hearing loss since 1995. She hopes to increase awareness of CCHAT program and encourage support of the school from the population that she serves at her office. She feels fortunate to be part of an organization that changes the lives of children and their families. Julia is married and has a thirteen year old daughter.

Debbie Gabelich, Debbie attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where she met her husband Steve. They married in 1989 and now have two children, Alex, who is a sophomore at Saint Marys College, and Addison, who is a junior at Saint Francis High School. Professionally, her background is in business development and marketing. The last 14 years have been spent in the nonprofit sector, but Debbie recently returned to the for profit arena to help businesses with their corporate responsibility efforts.

Diane Durston, Diane Durston graduated from Standford University with a bachelor of arts degree in history and a minor in music. She received a master's degree in special education with a focus on deaf and hard of hearing. After spending a year teaching at one of the residential schools for the deaf in California, she began working at the Jean Weingarten Penninsula Oral School for the Deaf in Redwood City. She was one of three teachers who began the extended program for older deaf children at the San Francisco Hearing and Speech Center. She worked there for 8 years. When the CCHAT Center opened in Sacramento in 1996, she was one of two teachers to start the school. She taught at CCHAT for 17 years and recently retired from the classroom to work on the Board raising money for CCHAT. She is passionate about the mission of CCHAT having seen the life changing results for families during her teaching career.

Kathy Sussman, A past President of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Kathy Sussman is Executive Director at the Jean Weingarten Peninsula Oral School for the Deaf/ Foundation for Hearing Research. She earned a B. S. in Special Education & Early Childhood from George Peabody College (Tennessee) and an M. S. in Speech and Hearing from Washington University (St. Louis). A former Director of the Louisville Deaf Oral School (Kentucky) and Supervisor at the Montreal Oral School for the Deaf in Montreal (Canada) she has extensive experience mentoring and consulting with oral deaf schools as well as programs that train teachers of the deaf. Kathy developed and published "Rhythmic Phonetics" a new speech tool being used nationally and internationally and has worked diligently on an international level for the advancement of oral deaf education. Most recently, Kathy received the Honors of the Association award from Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing during their biannual conference in 2008.

Norman Waters, Ex-officio, A former president of the Foundation for Hearing Research, which owns and operates two oral deaf schools in California, Norman Waters has been a mainstay of the Board. Norm earned his B. A. in Business Administration from the University of Washington and worked for thirty years at Lockheed Missiles Systems Co. where he was Director of Financial Controls charged with cost estimating, contract negotiation, budget establishment, and cost control functions. In addition to working with the Foundation for Hearing Research and the CCHAT Center - Sacramento, Norm has been active in the Lions Community Association.

Cathy Ballantine, Advisory, Cathy is a Policy Analyst (Associate Governmental Program Analyst) with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), working on foster care legislation, policy, and regulations. She earned her B. A. in Communication Studies (public relations emphasis) from California State University, Sacramento where she also earned an M. A. in Education (Special Education emphasis). Deaf and legally blind since birth, Cathy wears a cochlear implant in her right ear and a hearing aid in her left ear. As a young child, she benefited from oral deaf education and was mainstreamed in hometown private and public schools beginning with kindergarten. She has won a Superior Accomplishment Award as a CDSS employee, has held a number of positions in public and private industry, and has many connections with the community through volunteer and leisure activity groups.