It's not easy to pick up your comfortable, settled life and move somewhere new to face new challenges -- especially if that means moving to an impoverished area. But that's what one teacher from California did because she wanted to help struggling kids in New Orleans, which is still suffering the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina. Terrilynn Monette was even nominated for a "Teacher of the Year" award for her dedication to helping students. But tragically that dedication has led to something awful -- Terrilynn has been missing for two weeks. And her family is frantic.
The 26-year-old teacher, who joined a program called "teachNOLA," which sends teachers from around the country to help poor kids in the once storm-ravaged city, vanished after a night on the town celebrating with some friends.
"There's total emptiness in my life right now. I miss my daughter so, so much, no one can hardly believe the impact that she has had on our family," her mother, Toni Enclade, told CNN.
Terrilyn was last seen at a local watering hole a couple of weeks ago, where she went to celebrate her new adventure in teaching with some pals. Reportedly, the bartender eventually "cut off" Terrilyn because she'd been drinking too much. She then told friends she was going to "sleep it off" in her car. That was the last time she was seen.
Everyone has the right to celebrate -- and Terrilyn was doing the right thing by sleeping it off rather than driving. But I wish she had gone to a friend's home. People have the prerogative to party when they want to, but the reality is that it can make it more difficult to defend yourself if needed and your judgment becomes extremely impaired. This isn't blaming the victim -- NO ONE has the right to take advantage of a person who has had too much to drink -- but it is the unfortunate truth that too much alcohol can lead to trouble.
Hundreds of volunteers have been scouring New Orleans, but with no sign of Terrilynn yet. Not only is this a tragedy for Terrilynn and her family, but for the students of NOLA. This amazing teacher had, in her first year teaching second grade, turned one of the lowest performing classes into one of the highest. Which shows you what a good teacher can do.
Let's hope Terrilynn is found.
What do you think happened?
Image via CNN