The school is established as a competitive and highly reputable center for Irish Dance education, with dancers from the Coogan School earning first place awards in the New England Irish Dance Championship Traditional Set competition as well as regional, national and international awards in preliminary championship and championship level events. Our dancers partipate in various activities throughout the year including community shows, our annual Ceili, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and regional, national and international competitions.
The Coogan School of Irish Dance is not solely focused on competition, but rather emphasizes the enrichment of the student in all aspects of life. Self-esteem, social and communication skills, and physical health are nurtured in each dance lesson, aiming to bring enjoyment and confidence to every dancer.
Brenda A. Coogan O’Leary, Co-Director, A.D.C.R.G.
The co-director of the Coogan School of Irish Dance, Dr. Brenda A. Coogan, is a seasoned teacher, and holds certifications with The Irish Dance Commission Dublin Ireland, The Irish Dance Teacher’s Association of North America, and the New England Irish Dance Teacher’s Association. Brenda is also a registered adjudicator (A.D.C.R.G.) with the Irish Dance Commission, judging various events throughout the region during the year. Brenda has been a certified teacher for 19 years and she began her teaching career as a student assistant at the young age of eleven. She opened the Coogan School of Irish Dance in 1997. Brenda trained with the Griffith Academy from the age of 2 1/2 until she completed her competitive dance career at the age of 21. She was fortunate to start her dance career under the direction of the late, Mary Ann Griffith and she was a teacher with the school for many years.
Brenda has competed at the National and International level and she has also received accolades for her teaching skills, receiving the Distinguished Teacher Award through the Presidential Scholars Program and the U.S. Department of Education. She traveled to Washington, D.C. in July 2001 to meet President George W. Bush, attending a ceremony in recognition of the 200 teachers from across the United States honored with this award. Brenda is a previous second place New England Champion and top fifteen National awardee in addition to her participation in two World Championships. Brenda was also recognized for her dance achievements by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and she completed seven years of tap, jazz and ballet training and six years of voice training to complement her Irish Dance career.
In addition to her teaching endeavors, Dr. Coogan holds her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Connecticut and is a school psychologist at the middle school level.
Mrs. Regina (Fallon) Coogan, Co-Founder
Co-Founder and former Co-Director of the Coogan School of Irish Dance, Mrs. Regina Coogan, started her teaching career in Co-Longford, Ireland and continues to instruct and assist at the Coogan School on Monday evenings. Regina trained many dancers at the Fallon School prior to leaving Ireland to start her family in Connecticut more in 1967. One of those dancers is now a registered teacher herself and she also raised two championship dancers of her own. Mrs. Coogan was an integral part of the Griffith Academy for approximately 20 years, offering her time to assist parents and dancers at the Manchester branch and co-chairing the annual Ceili night for many years. In addition to her time devoted to teaching and correcting our students at the Coogan School, Mrs. Coogan was very involved in the scheduling and business end of our classes. Mrs. Coogan’s passion for Irish Dance combined with her many years of teaching experience formed a solid foundation for the Coogan School of Irish Dance. Mrs. Coogan passed away in June 2014 and her legacy lives on through her dancers.