Terrilynn Monette, Missing New Orleans Teacher, Vanishes After Night Of Drinking

03/13/2013 02:52 pm ET

A talented young teacher credited with turning around her underperforming elementary school class in New Orleans has been missing for almost two weeks.

Second-grade teacher Terrilynn Monette was last seen on March 2 after a night of drinking with friends. The 26-year-old was celebrating her nomination as "Teacher of the Year" in her district, CNN reported.

A barkeeper cut off the tipsy Monette, who told friends she was going to sleep it off in her car parked nearby, WGMB reported.

Friends said they saw the California native talking to a man near her car at 4 a.m. -- by sunrise she and her 2012 black Honda Accord were gone without a trace.

Her cellphone stopped emitting a signal several hours before she disappeared, police said.

The man that she was seen speaking to in the wee hours of the night has been interviewed by police and ruled out as a suspect in her disappearance.

Volunteers, including co-workers from Woodland West Elementary School and family members from her hometown of Long Beach, turned out in droves to search for Monette, WWLT reported. More than 200 people checked New Orleans' City Park, which is near Parlay's Bar in the Lakeview section where she'd been partying with friends.

The city's "Teach NOLA" program, which sends new teachers to troubled schools, attracted Monette, the New Orleans Times Picayune reported. She is credited with significantly improving the performance of her students.

Monette is 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighs about 180 pounds and has long brown hair. On the night she vanished, she wore a pink and yellow sweater and jeans. Her left leg is tattooed.

if you have seen Monette or have any information, please call the New Orleans Police Department at 504-658-4000.

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