2022 New Orleans Mom Teacher of the Year Finalists!

2022 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 2nd!

Top 10 Finalists

Todd Wray – Metairie Academy of Advanced Studies – Jefferson Parish

{Nominated by: Tracy Bruno, Rebecca Boyett, Nicole Guilmino, Rachel Eriksen, Pia Chowdry Ray & Anita Obenschain}    Each day after school and at dinner my 1st grade daughter can’t wait to tell us what she learned and what fun they had with Mr. Wray. They even have dance parties! She said, “Mr. Wray deserves to win Teacher of the Year because he is funny!” She loves to tell us the interesting facts he teaches them about history and science. This prompts our family to have such interesting conversations at home! As a parent, I’m even learning from his immense knowledge through my child! Mr. Wray has a natural gift to keep our 1st graders engaged in learning. His personality and enthusiasm make learning fun for our kids and show how much he truly loves teaching. He values and encourages learning opportunities inside and outside of school that enhances their curriculum and builds confidence within our children! Mr. Wray truly is a teacher that my daughter will remember for the rest of her life. He inspires her, keeps her love of learning alive and is truly leaving a remarkable impression on her (and us).

Because of his positive attitude. He has a passion for teaching. He’s got complete control over his classroom, but at the same time he’s funny and he relates to the kids. He is always telling jokes and rewards the students for good behavior. He makes learning interesting and he challenges the children to their fullest potential.

Anne-Sophie Ortoli – Ecole Bilingue de la Nouvelle Orleans

{Nominated by: Gabriela Barnetzer} I’d like to nominate Anne-Sophie Ortoli for the New Orleans Mom’s Teacher of the Year. I know of no one better qualified or more deserving for this title than Anne-Sophie. In my time knowing Anne-Sophie, I can honestly say that my family’s life has been significantly affected by her amazing teaching skills. My son had the privilege of being in her class as a Pre-K 4 student in a very pivotal time in his life. We had recently had micro-preemie triplets that were hospitalized for months and with the huge change in his life, my son was experiencing tremendous anxiety at school. Anne-Sophie completely changed his life. I say this with no exaggeration. My son is now thriving, excelling, and absolutely loving school and his teacher. I cannot ever thank her enough for the year of love she gave to us.

However, this alone is not my only reason for nominating her. The passion for teaching and caring for children that I experienced with Anne-Sophie is not unique to my child. Every single student she has is special to her – and every single student feels that same love. Her life is teaching, her love is teaching, and I truly know that there no one more deserving of the accolade. In today’s difficult world, our kids (and even us adults) need nothing more than the security and kindness taught by Anne-Sophie. She changes the lives of both children and adults by teaching mindfulness, kindness, love, and greatness to those in need. Our world and our community would be greater served with more Ann-Sophies – and I hope that she is able to be celebrated with this title of Teacher of the Year.

Cindy Bourque – Holy Cross School

{Nominated by: Micki Andry} As a new student this year, my son entered Holy Cross as a 7th grade student. He came from a parochial school where he had been a student since Pre-K3. Moving to a new school after 9 years was more than just a big change for him; it was life altering. Mrs. Bourque is the 7th grade Math teacher as well as the 7th grade coordinator. She welcomed my son (and the other new students) with open arms and absolutely made them feel at home. Every day, Mrs. Bourque goes above and beyond the call duty as a teacher and mentor. She is an advocate for each child; a cheerleader for each child; and takes time in every class to make sure her students understand the material that is being taught. She offers free tutoring sessions at least twice a week for her students before school and will work with students on her free time as well. Most of all, she holds them accountable, treats them with respect, and teaches them to be a Holy Cross man!

Seventh grade at most parochial schools is considered the “senior” year for the students and Mrs. Bourque makes sure these 7th grade students feel the same way at Holy Cross. She plans field trips and community-building events each month for the grade. She attends their extracurricular events and asks them how their day is going. The brotherhood that the boys feel is wholeheartedly facilitated because of Mrs. Bourque. I feel that she is their mother at school and it’s very comforting to know that my son has someone that is always in her corner. She communicates with the parents often and sends pictures of their activities at school, so we can get a small glimpse of their day because let’s be honest, how much does a 7th grade boy tell their parents about their day at school!?!?!

My son has had the most amazing transition to his new school this year and I know the biggest reason for that is because of Mrs. Bourque. She has pushed my son to be the best student he can be and it brings me great joy to see him flourishing at his new school. It has truly been an honor to have her as a teacher and I cannot wait for my younger son to be in her class in two years. Mrs. Bourque will definitely be our Teacher of the Year for the impact she has had on my son.

Michelle Haysley – Metairie Park Country Day School

{Nominated by: Tom Haysley, Giullian Caparas, Zayrion Harris, Ryan Capebianco} Not only is Mrs. Haysley a dedicated mother to her family, but her character and passion really shine through the world as an educator. When she was my teacher in high school, it was evident how much thought and love she put into her work not only in actual school paperwork and lesson planning but in forming a safe, inclusive, welcoming learning environment by really bonding and getting to know her students. She cares for her students as much as she does her own children. It’s been years since I’ve graduated high school and I still keep in touch with Mrs. Haysley. Her support has made such a huge impact in my life. She continues to teach me about living with an open heart and mind, even if she doesn’t know it. She truly is a shining example of an incredible mom teacher.

Madeleine Raymond – Academy of the Sacred Heart

{Nominated by: Ashley Ellis, Juliette Camenzuli, Olivia Boyd, Madison Stone, & Olivia Finch} Ms. Madeleine Raymond is an incredible teacher. She joined Sacred Heart in January and has greatly impacted the academic performance and general well-being of her AP Biology students. She is encouraging, patient, and understanding. She deserves to be recognized for her dedication to her craft and to her students.

Laura Dutron – ISL Dixon New Orleans

{Nominated by: Krissy Brumfield, Eunide Lesperance, Paul Malborough, Jr., & Diana Navas} Ms. Dutron goes above and beyond for her students. She is encouraging to all of her students. She is consistently providing information for extra at home help and study materials to help students improve in the classroom. She takes the time to celebrate all of her students for all of their accomplishments.

Kathryn Braddick – Hynes Charter School – Lakeview, Orleans Parish Public Schools

{Nominated by: Lory Lewis & Laura Higley Chasanoff} Ms. Braddick is my daughter’s amazing kindergarten teacher.  She was the leader of the virtual kindergarten orientation for the school last summer, and I secretly hoped that my daughter would be assigned to her class because she seemed like such a bright and caring person.  Ms. Braddick goes above and beyond to make learning a fun experience for her class.  Before the first day of school, she gave her students a “Welcome to Kindergarten” bag with a 1st Day pennant, a letter introducing herself, and a poem with “magical dust” (confetti) to put under their pillows before their big day.  Going from a very small preschool to a larger kindergarten class, my daughter had a sometimes tearful transition, and Ms. Braddick was very understanding and helpful in addressing concerns related to a social issue.  When my daughter had trouble with adjusting to using educational technology, Ms. Braddick let her sit by her side until she felt more comfortable and confident.  Ms. Braddick successfully taught her classroom full of kindergarteners solo for several weeks while her aide was on maternity leave because subs were hard to get because of COVID.  When Ms. Braddick had a mild case of COVID, she continued to teach morning and afternoon virtual classes to her students.  During this period, I was able to see her teaching in action.  (What patience, focus, and energy she has!)  At other times, if students had to miss school, Ms. Braddick would invite them to “zoom in” to the class during snack time so they could see their classmates.  For her student’s birthdays, Ms. Braddick decorates their table spot with marker drawings tailored to the student’s interests.  Outside of the classroom, I have seen Ms. Braddick attend birthday parties of her students when she is invited.  How excited the children are to see her!  For my daughter’s birthday she gave her a book with a character she loves and wrote a personal message in it which included “I know you can read most of the words in here!”  It’s nice that Ms. Braddick knows her students’ individual progress.  Another example of Ms. Braddick’s caring for her students is assigning them harder math exercises (with no pressure) to prepare them for what they will be doing in 1st grade.  In regard to community, Ms. Braddick is a Girls on the Run coach (Girls on the Run encourages girls in grades 3 – 8 to set goals and achieve them.).  I wish I had a teacher like Ms. Braddick when I was a child!  I hope my daughter appreciates the gem that she is.  I know she will look back on kindergarten as a wonderful experience because of her teacher!

Emily Barnitz – Lusher Charter School, Orleans

{Nominated by: A.K.} Mrs. Emily Barnitz is a third grade Science and Math teacher at Lusher Charter School for the past three years and has taught my son for this past year. I believe all teachers deserve the New Orleans Mom’s Teacher of the Year distinction (such a hard job!), but Mrs. Barnitz’s star shines very bright.

  1. Her calm demeanor creates a positive space for her students to excel, both in their studies and in being themselves. The pandemic created a social void in students, one that most parents saw reflected in their children’s well-being. Mrs. Barnitz’s positivity and demeanor continuously create a safe space for her students to be themselves and relax more during these tough pandemic times. I saw a definite switch in my child’s anxiety, even from the first day in Mrs. Barnitz’s class.
  2. Mrs. Barnitz recognizes when a student is struggling and excelling and takes action. She noticed my son has a speech issue AND a talent for the arts, the latter being something I have tried to convince my son to pursue for years. But when Mrs. Barnitz saw the talent in him and referred him for evaluation, he was honored. He now BELIEVES he has the talent because she noticed his special gift and cared enough to make sure he is challenged in that area. She gave him the reassurance he needed. His self-confidence and self-worth have grown tremendously in such a short time. I get chills thinking about the impact a teacher can have on one student’s life like she has had on my son’s.
  3. Mrs. Barnitz’s class was recognized for leading the whole school in donations in a school fundraiser that asks each class to give to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. While this is an admirable feat, I am most thankful for the time and effort Mrs. Barnitz took to create a positive memory associated with generosity and fundraising for her students. She taught the kids that hard work pays off and that giving your time and energy to other people is an enriching experience.

My main hope for my kids is that they grow up into kind, smart adults who are true to themselves. I am forever grateful to Mrs. Barnitz for helping steer my child and all her students on the course of becoming who they are meant to be.

Courtney Blanco – St. Therese Academy

{Nominated by: Jeanne DeLasalle} Ms. Blanco teaches 7th grade at St. Therese Academy. This school has been a huge blessing to our family and Ms. Blanco has been an integral part of it. St. Therese is a school for children with learning exceptionalities. My son would hate to go to school and his confidence was low. Ms. Blanco was able to help show that her students can do anything, even when the odds are stacked against them. She knows not all students are cookie cutter learners and she goes above and beyond to make sure her students are prepared and comfortable in the way they learn. She is my son’s favorite teacher and is already sad he will not have her next year. She truly deserves this award.

Deborah Jacob – Airline Park Academy for Advanced Studies, Jefferson Parish Public Schools

{Nominated by: Elizabeth Seaton} Ms. Jacobs has shown a tremendous amount of dedication to her students through another trying covid/hurricane school year. I am particularly grateful for the care and concern she’s shown. Our home was damaged during Ida, my childrens rooms had to be gutted to the studs. Many of their precious belongings were ruined. Ms. Jacobs has made school a place where my daughter can forget about losing all of her special things. When we were living in a hotel for repairs to be completed, Ms. Jacob’s went above and beyond and sent home felt board games for my kids to play with. Then found a fun Sorry game at the Dollar Tree and sent that home too. When we had Covid at the end of winter break, she hand delivered my daughter’s lessons to our front porch so she wouldn’t fall behind. Then when my daughter was exposed to Covid again just a short time later, she hand delivered again. My daughter has grown tremendously academically, and socially this year despite all of the challenges faced. Ms. Jacob’s has a heart of gold, and I’m convinced must be an angel sent to walk among us. I will forever be grateful to all she has given my girl this year. Lessons in kindness are written in our hearts forever.

Not only will the winner be crowned the 2022 New Orleans Mom Teacher of the Year, but s/he will also win the fabulous prize package giveaway valued over $1,000 including:



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 2nd!


  1. Miss Laura ha enseñado a mi hija Sophia francés desde cero ahora sophia está finalizando el año es capaz de decir oraciones cantar canciones en Francés realmente ella hace mucho por los niños tiene ese Don de ser maestra 🎉🎉🥰

  2. I cannot say enough great things about Ms. Braddick. She has helped my son grow and mature and feel confident in himself, so that he can be his best version of himself. She’s believed in his potential from the moment she met him and always operates with the belief that her students can and will be successful. We’ve been so fortunate to have her as our son’s K teacher this year. She has truly changed his life (and ours)! A teacher like her is a very very rare find!!


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