Courtesy Terrilynn Monette
03/13/2013 at 11:00 AM EDT
Terrilynn Monette, a 26-year-old elementary school teacher who helped her second-graders turn their academic performances around, has apparently vanished.
The California native, who moved to New Orleans as part of that city's initiative to improve teaching in impoverished zones, was last seen with friends on March 2 after visiting Parlay's, a bar in the town's Lakeview section, police tell CNN
That night, Monette had been "cut off" by a bartender who said she had too much to drink, according to Parlay's manager Anna Boudousque. The teacher was celebrating her nomination as "Teacher of the Year" in her district.
Police said Monette told her friends she'd sleep it off in her car, a 2012 black Honda Accord, before driving home, and was seen around 4 a.m., talking to an unidentified man in Parlay's parking lot.
Since then, both Monette and her car have disappeared.
Authorities tell CNN that the man in the parking lot has been interviewed and is not considered a suspect in the case. So far, there are no suspects or persons of interest.
Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputies, using magnets and grappling hooks, have searched a bayou between the bar and Monett's home, and investigators are reportedly continuing to review security footage from outside Parlay's. Billboards have also gone up in downtown New Orleans, asking the public for assistance.
Monette is originally from Long Beach, Calif., and a graduate of Cal State San Bernadino. A vigil for her was held last weekend at Wilson High School in Long Beach, say reports.
Her mother, Toni Enclade, told CNN: "She's a beautiful person. She walks in the room, she lights up with her beautiful smile. I can't imagine anyone that would take her away from us."