2024 New Orleans Mom Teacher of the Year Finalists!!

Disclosure :: Our 2024 Teacher of the Year campaign is sponsored by our partners at Children’s Hospital New Orleans.

2024 New Orleans Mom Teacher of the Year Finalists!!

We received some amazing nominees for our New Orleans Mom Teacher of the Year campaign … nominated by parents, students, colleagues, neighbors, and friends … all who have made a difference in the lives of students and who motivate and inspire those around them. Selecting the top 10 finalists from all of the nominations proved to be a very difficult task.

A team of objective judges will determine the New Orleans Mom Teacher of the Year from the 10 finalists below, and the winner will be announced on Monday, May 6th!

Top 10 Finalists

Teriece Reynolds – McDonogh 35 Inspire NOLA district

{Nominated by :: Violet Smith, Carla Scott Strickland & Richard Mihans} Ms. Reynolds goes above and beyond by developing healthy relationships with the students and parents. She checks in with parents on the students’ progress and is always willing to help in any way that she can. She is very accessible and willing to work with the students to help them achieve their goals. She is involved with school activities and serves as the Sophomore Class Sponsor and also Co- Sponsor for the Ethics Bowl team. She understands the importance of making sure that her students are prepared for the real world not only with academics but life lessons as well. She challenges their thinking and pushes them to go beyond the surface. She is dedicated to her students and profession as evidenced by her committee to personal and personal development.  

Sherland Hart – Lafayette Academy of New Orleans

{Nominated by :: Multiple Parents, Students & CoWorkers} Ms. Hart’s dedication to teaching is evident in the way you engage with us and help us understand even the toughest subjects. You go above and beyond to ensure that we succeed, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.

I also appreciate her kindness and support. Whether it’s answering questions, offering encouragement, or simply being there when we need help, you’re always there for us. Her commitment to our education means a lot to me, and I’m thankful to have Ms. Hart as my teacher. I’m excited to nominate Ms. Hart for the Teacher Mom Award. She’s not just a teacher; she’s like a second mom to all her students.
Ms. Hart makes learning fun and exciting. She’s always there to help us understand tricky stuff and cheers us on when we succeed. She cares about each of us like we’re her own kids.What’s special about Ms. Hart is how she connects with us. She listens to our problems, gives us advice, and celebrates our achievements. She’s like a friend and a mentor rolled into one.And it’s not just us students she cares about. Ms. Hart keeps our families in the loop too. She talks to our parents, keeps them updated, and works with them to help us do our best.Ms. Hart isn’t just a great teacher; she’s a great mom-figure too. She deserves this award for all the love and support she gives us every day.Thanks for considering Ms. Hart for this special recognition. Thank you for being the best TEACHER-MOM Ms. Hart!

Amanda Gardner – Stuart Hall School for Boys

{Nominated by :: Sarah Offner} Middle School Math can be the pits. Not only is it the beginning of more complex topics that are necessary to build upon week after week, but simply put, it’s just not as fun as when you get to blow up things in a science lab. That is, unless, you have Amanda Gardner as your math teacher.

I have been fortunate to have two of my sons have Ms. Gardner as a teacher while at Stuart Hall School for Boys. She possesses the innate ability to push the boys to be the best they can be, challenge their abilities, all while simultaneously nurturing them and ensuring that a true understanding of each concept occurs. She’s happy to spend extra time before or after school if something doesn’t make sense or needs some additional instruction. She cares deeply about each boy, their growth both academically and socially, and makes math fun!

How can math be fun? When you are learning the Order of Operations (forget the “old” Please My Dear Aunt Sally!), surprise your students by welcoming them into their own operating lab, complete with Scrubs, personal medical IDs and an operating kit to conquer a complex order of operations problem!

A highlight of the year is the Fifth Grade Food fest. Each boy in the class invents his own restaurant and establishes pricing and works to create a digital menu. He is then tasked with taking orders from friends and family for his restaurant and creating their final bills to include all charges, taxes, and fees. Little do the boys know they are learning how to multiply percentages, add multi digit and decimal numbers, and hone in on their computer skills all at the same time. The lesson culminates with each boy brining an item from their menu to class. Somehow, she manages to make learning these topics fun and incorporates real world scenarios so that the boys understand why the skills are important and impactful to their day to day lives.

When learning about circumference and parts of a circle, the boys enjoy Oatmeal pies in class, but not before measuring the oatmeal pies’ radius, diameter and of course, multiplying it by 3.14 to understand the ideas of areas and circumferences of a circle.

Ms. Gardner is a wonderful example of a teacher that sets high expectations for her students and her colleagues. She is creative in the manner she teaches, dedicated to her students and a model educator. She pushes each student to be their best and fosters a love of learning by making math fun!

Elizabeth Talbot – St. Dominic School 

{Nominated by: Libby Talbot} A humble woman, my mother would never admit that she should win this award. However, it is evident that the hours upon hours she has spent planning Stations of the Cross, morning prayer, Sign Club, weekly mass, and all the events/activities she is responsible for due to her being religious director, that her work is more than just a job. Teaching people about the Catholic religion, more so teaching children about Jesus, is a passion of hers that has never wavered. It is evident when I visit the school and walk into the building with her, how much the children admire “Mrs. Talbot” as they flock to her immediately to tell her stories about their afternoons. It is evident that she makes an irreplaceable impact in the lives of so many families who gather to talk to us after church on Sundays. She will go to any length to help someone out, devotes her time to creating mercy bags for the poor and homeless, and tutors after school. Her service to the St. Dominic community is remarkable, as not only does she spend the school year there, but also a few weeks in the summer running and planning for Vacation Bible School. She still meets up with former students from Baton Rouge and Lakeview who are eager to tell their beloved teacher about their new lives. During COVID, she was still in the position of a kindergarten teacher (which she had been for over 20 years), and her then kindergarteners and room moms took it upon themselves to visit our house and draw happy pictures on the sidewalk to express their gratitude to the women who continued to send out lesson plans while raising her own children amidst a pandemic. We never go anywhere without someone knowing her name. She treats every student, even the ones she did not have in kindergarten, as important and special, gives each their own unique nickname, and works tirelessly to make sure each student feels seen, heard, and loved, which is shown throughout the amount of people who have told me how awesome she is and how lucky I am to have her as a mother. Not only am I lucky, but the teaching staff and students of St. Dominic school are even luckier and more blessed to have such an amazing, genuine, and passionate coworker and teacher by their side every day. She is my inspiration, the light of my life, and my guiding force to keep pushing, even when times are difficult. She encompasses everything it means to be a teacher, and is 100% deserving of this award.

Joelle Gomez – ReNEW Schaumburg – Orleans

{Nominated by :: Multiple Parents, Students & CoWorkers} I am thrilled to nominate Joelle Gomez for the esteemed New Orleans Mom’s Teacher of the Year award. As a colleague and a friend, I have had the privilege of witnessing Joelle’s exceptional dedication, passion, and impact on her students’ lives firsthand. I am confident in her qualifications for this prestigious recognition. Joelle’s commitment to excellence, coupled with her ongoing pursuit of professional development through the Master of Art in Teaching program at Tulane University, truly sets her apart as an outstanding educator.

Joelle’s approach to teaching goes beyond imparting knowledge; she fosters a nurturing and inclusive learning environment where every student feels valued and empowered. Her classroom is a vibrant hub of creativity, curiosity, and collaboration, where students are encouraged to think critically, express themselves freely, and explore their unique strengths and interests.

Beyond her pedagogical prowess, Joelle’s genuine care and empathy for her students foster a sense of belonging and motivation. She goes above and beyond to build meaningful relationships with her students, understanding their backgrounds, challenges, and aspirations. Her commitment to their holistic development extends beyond academics, instilling values of resilience, empathy, and curiosity.

Joelle’s impact extends far beyond the classroom walls. She actively engages with parents, colleagues, and the community to create a holistic educational experience for her students. Whether it’s organizing parent workshops, collaborating with other educators on cross-curricular projects, or participating in community service initiatives, Joelle is always looking for ways to enrich her students’ learning journey and make a positive difference in their lives.

Furthermore, Joelle is a lifelong learner herself, constantly seeking professional development opportunities to enhance her teaching skills and stay updated with the latest educational trends and research. Her commitment to ongoing growth and improvement not only benefits her students but also inspires her peers and contributes to a culture of excellence within the school community.

In conclusion, Joelle Gomez embodies the qualities of an exceptional educator – passion, dedication, empathy, innovation, and a commitment to ongoing learning and growth. Her impact on her students’ lives and the educational community at large is profound and deserving of recognition through the New Orleans Mom’s Teacher of the Year award. Thank you for considering her nomination.

Bonnie Collins – Academy of Our Lady, Jefferson Parish

{Nominated by :: Emily McGowan, Kahlen Langlinais, Gilana Chavarria, Adrianna Manno & Savana Guill} Mrs. Collins is a truly inspiring, passionate, and devoted teacher. She treats every student like her own child. She makes every student feel important and valued. If a student is going through something, she is the first to notice and makes sure they are ok. If not, she is always available to listen or give advice. If she is not available at that exact moment, she makes herself available after class or later in the day to speak with you. There is never been a dull moment in her classroom and she always tries to put a smile on our faces or make us laugh. Teaching is not just a job for her; it is her passion. She is always happy and she truly wants to be there for her students. She pushes her students to reach their potential and to aspire to do better in their academics and personal life. Her presence lights up the room and I always look forward to her class. She is always open to new things and is always doing fun activities with her students and for our school. I am extremely lucky to have Mrs.Collins as a teacher. She is what teachers should aspire to be.

Mrs. Collins is not only the ideal religion teacher, but also one of the best examples of what us students should strive to be like. She exuburates so much joy through her realness, honesty, humor, patience, and willingness to bring others closer to God. Her confidence and spiritual maturity is so prevalent and is what makes her glow whenever she is teaching or just walking in the hallways. She is always assuring that she loves each of us so much and she goes out of her way to comfort or check in on students if their having a tough time. Mrs. Collin’s is the type of person you meet once or twice in a life time; leaving me so blessed to be one of the many people she leaves a life altering impact on.

Julie DesRoches – Academy of the Sacred Heart

{Nominated by :: Multiple Parents, Students & CoWorkers} I am honored to nominate Mrs. Julie DesRoches for the Teacher of the Year award. Mrs. DesRoches has been an exceptional educator who has not only impacted the lives of students for over 30 years but has also made a profound difference in our daughter’s journey.

Our daughter initially struggled with anxiety and fear of new environments, particularly in classroom settings. However, under Mrs. Julie DesRoches’s guidance, she not only overcame these challenges but also blossomed into a confident and enthusiastic learner. She provided opportunities for our daughter to participate in classroom activities at her own pace, offering encouragement and positive reinforcement along the way. Mrs. Julie DesRoches demonstrated unparalleled dedication and commitment to helping her navigate through her fears, providing a nurturing and supportive environment where she felt safe to explore and grow.

Beyond academic support, Mrs. Julie DesRoches went above and beyond to address our daughter’s shyness, building her self-esteem and fostering a sense of confidence in her abilities. She motivated our daughter to bring books, happy grams, and items from home related to the current teaching lesson, enabling her to take center stage in the classroom and nurture her self-confidence. Through personalized encouragement and innovative teaching methods, Mrs. Julie DesRoches instilled a belief in our daughter that she could overcome any obstacle and succeed.

What sets Mrs. Julie DesRoches apart is not only the impact she has had on our daughter but also the influence she exerts in the wider educational community. Mrs. Julie DesRoches serves as a beacon of inspiration for other educators and parents, setting an example through her unwavering dedication, compassion, and commitment to student success.

In summary, Mrs. Julie DesRoches exemplifies excellence in education, both inside and outside the classroom. Her outstanding contributions, tireless efforts, and unwavering dedication have undoubtedly left an indelible mark on our daughter and countless other students. It is with great enthusiasm and gratitude that I nominate Mrs. Julie DesRoches for the Teacher of the Year award.

Payton Uliscni – Norco Elementary St Charles Parish

Payton{Nominated by :: Todd & Lindsey Albarado} I am writing to nominate Payton Ulicsni for the Teacher of the Year award. As a parent of both a ninth grader and a fourth grader, I have had the opportunity to observe various teachers in action. However, none have made as significant an impact on my children as Payton Ulicsni.

My son has faced challenges in school, particularly in finding motivation and joy in learning. Payton’s involvement with him began during the boost program, where her dedication and skill became evident. Through her guidance and support, my son’s attitude towards learning has undergone a remarkable transformation.

Payton possesses a rare ability to connect with her students, empowering them to reach their full potential. Her motivational approach is inspiring and has been instrumental in fostering a love for learning in my child. In a time when such skills are increasingly scarce in the classroom, Payton stands out as a beacon of excellence.

Furthermore, Payton’s dedication extends beyond the classroom. She consistently goes above and beyond to ensure the progress and well-being of her students even after they have moved on from her classroom. Payton’s commitment is evident through her attendance at their events and her willingness to provide additional support, such as tutoring, to help them succeed academically. Her genuine care and investment in her students’ success exemplify her exceptional dedication to their growth and development both inside and outside of school.

I wholeheartedly believe that Payton Ulicsni is deserving of the Teacher of the Year award for her outstanding contributions to the education and well-being of her students.

From, A Dad that noticed a teacher that consistently go above and beyond.

Alayna Gonzales – Mount Carmel Academy

{Nominated by :: Alison Ruckert & Cisco Gonzales} I have watched Alayna bloom as an awesome, dedicated teacher over the last six years. She is passionate about her content, but perhaps more passionate about her students. She spent her first five years of teaching moderating student council at our school, and the hours she willingly gave to that both at school and after school hours/weekends made her someone the students felt like they could go to when they needed a caring adult. She gives her time during the school day and after school assisting students with extra help with writing assignments or gaining a better understanding of the literature she teaches. Sometimes, this time she gives to her students is during her lunch when she could be taking a break with other teachers. She is passionate about her content, continuously seeking new ideas for teaching challenging topics and making learning more accessible for her students. She evaluates curriculum to ensure that the kids are both engaged and successful. She is a kind, passionate teacher who truly sees every one of her students and helps them to feel seen, safe, and cared about. She is quick to recognize the best in other teachers but too humble to see those same traits in herself. As someone who has known her as both a student and as a teacher, I am impressed by the deep passion she has for teaching and for her students. Her students are so lucky to share a classroom with her, and her colleagues are made better teachers by working with her.

Cherie Bourgeois – Mount Carmel Academy

{Nominated by :: Multiple Parents, Students & CoWorkers} Cherie Bourgeois is the definition of a dedicated teacher. She spends every minute at school helping students or helping other teachers. She devotes tireless effort to helping her sophomores understand math and develop a confidence in their skills that helps every student succeed in the next level math. She spends her lunch and study hall time every single day tutoring students, sometimes on the floor of the hallway or on the ground in the outside lunch areas when she has lunch duty. She is at school early and leaves late because of tutoring. She spends half of her summer working summer camps and other school events and gives a lot of weekend time to working with the sophomores as part of student council. She is the most giving teacher I have ever encountered both as my time as a student and in my 16 years of teaching. No one deserves to be recognized for her commitment to teaching more than she does.

Not only will the winner be crowned the 2024 New Orleans Mom Teacher of the Year, but s/he will also win the fabulous prize package giveaway valued over $3,300+ including:

  • A two nights stay with premium room type upgrade as available, a $25 food and beverage credit, and complimentary car parking from Higgins Hotel and Conference Center {value of $875}
  • One free Jessner peel with our Aesthetician Monique, 4 EltaMD products, and 2 SkincCeuticals products from Sanova Dermatology {value of $479.99}
  • A full family session, 30 minutes long and includes 15 image files, online gallery for social sharing, and print release from Lululove Photography NOLA {value of $399}
  • 14K Yellow Gold 11.3mm Satin Bead and Diamond Cut Post Earring from Symmetry {value of $350}
  • An edible classroom celebration from The School Bakery {value of $250}
  • 1 case of wine, including 1 bottle each of from Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Riesling, Chateau Ste Michelle Light Chardonnay, Chateau Ste Michelle Light Sauvignon Blanc, Liquid Light Pinot Grigio, Liquid Light Chardonnay, 14 Hands Sweet Red Blend, 14 Hands Buttery Chardonnay, 14 Hands Unicorn Rose Bubbles, A to Z Rose, Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Brut NV, Intrinsic Cabernet, Erath Pinot Noir from Chateau Ste. Michelle {value of $220}
  • A selection of Pelican’s new 2023/24 kids books including: Someone in Louisiana Loves You, Five Little Termites, Gator’s Big Mouth, Michael the Wildlife Detective, Greta’s Gumbo, I know My Louisiana Colors, King Cake ABCs, Rougarou at Mardi Gras, King of the Shoebox Parade, Gumbo Weather, Rainbow Rodney +more from Arcadia Publishing {value of $200}
  • Family four pack of Boo at the Zoo tickets from Children’s Hospital New Orleans {value of $152}
  • A large board of the recipient’s choice from Sorrenteaux {value of up to $150}
  • $100 gift card from tasc {value of $100}
  • A 6 foot balloon garland delivered to classroom from Sparkle & Swag {value of $100}
  • $75 gift card from Bra Genie {value of $75} 
  • Quatrefoil cuff from Mimosa Handcrafted Jewelry {value of $69}
  • Swag from evamor {valued at $75}, and a case of evamor water from evamor {value of $50}
  • Gift set including a 12oz bag of Medium Roast Blend and a 12oz bag of Coffee & Chicory Blend from Orleans Coffee {value of $20}

The fine print (please read in full before entering) :: Per the IRS guidelines, the winner will receive a Form 1099 from New Orleans Mom for tax purposes since the value of the giveaway package exceeds a value of $600. 


  1. Hi just wanted to add a little more background information about Cherie Bourgeois. She currently serves as the Sophomore Class moderator, has a chauffeurs license so she often and at the last minute drives groups in the schools bus. She taught grammar school math for 10 years and came to Mount Carmel in 2002, so she’s at roughly 30 years in education. She tutors students non-stop in all areas of math and she often does it for free, before/afterschool, gives up her lunch. She moderated our very large and active student council for the first 15 years she was here, she assists in the organization of the Saint Joseph’s Altar and oversees the incoming collection of fair tickets, out of the goodness of her heart. She is just the most wonderful and most deserving member of our faculty and is an excellent role model to her peer teachers and all of her students.

  2. I would like to add to the previous commenter’s remarks about Ms. Bourgeois. She is absolutely everything that was said and more. We have had wonderful experiences with many special teachers, but Ms. Bourgeois is on a whole different level. She goes above and beyond to let her students know she is there for them. Hands down, she is the most dedicated teacher we have ever encountered and we are so grateful for her!

  3. Ms. Bourgeois taught me 5th grade math at St. Dominic, tutored me after school while my my parents worked and taught me 11th grade math at MCA. I became a teacher and now an Admin at a school because of growing up watching her be an amazing teacher and person. She is the best of the best! She deserves and is my TEACHER of the year!


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