Joan Reilly

RLRP Resident, Literacy Facilitator
Edward Hynes Elementary School

BIO: Joan Reilly graduated from St. Mary’s Dominican College with an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and multiple certifications in Special Education.  She received her Masters Degree from the University of New Orleans five years later in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Early Childhood.  She worked as a hospital homebound teacher her first year, then moved on to Lafayette Elementary where she taught first grade and kindergarten.  She found her “home” at Edward Hynes Elementary School where she taught first grade for the next “million” years.  In 2003, she became one of two Literacy Facilitators when the district adopted a new reading program.  She remained in that position until Hurricane Katrina left the city of New Orleans and her school under 8 or more feet of water.  During the 2005-2006 school year, she taught kindergarten at Benjamin Franklin Elementary and helped to re-open Hynes as a type 3 Charter School.  In 2006, she became the Literacy Facilitator/Ranking Teacher/Yearbook Coordinator and more, and has helped Hynes become one of 30 or so High Performing/High Poverty schools in the state.  Joan lives in Metairie, Louisiana with her husband Kevin, her daughter Meghan (19), her son Nicholas (16), and 4 wild and crazy dogs.


1. Where were you born?
Cut Off, Louisiana

2. Where did you graduate high school?
St. Mary’s Dominican High School

3. What was your favorite subject in school?
Well, other than band, it was always Literature.

4. Who was the most influential person in deciding your career path?
My mother.  She was also an educator.  Not only did I complete my degree in elementary education, she pushed me to complete several certifications is special education.  I completed my masters in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on early childhood.

5. Why did you decide to become a principal?
Sometimes it takes someone else to recognize a talent that you may possess and then push you in that direction.  My principal has been giving me leadership roles since we re-opened my school as a Charter school after Katrina.  She was the one who received the email and said, “I think you should do this”.  Without a second thought, I agreed.

6. What college did you attend?
St. Mary’s Dominican College

7. What do you think the biggest issue with education is today?
Accountability from teachers, students, and parents.

8. What did you do before you entered the RLRP program?
I was and am currently the Literacy Facilitator at Edward Hynes Elementary School.

9. What made you decide to participate in the RLRP program?
My Principal and the belief that it provides options for the future.  My two children are older (1 a junior in college and the other a junior in high school) and this was a great time in my career and personal life.

10. What is the hardest part about the RLRP program?
Honestly, I haven’t found a hardest part yet (I’ll let you know after I take the test ☺ ) but since you asked I would say the weekly reflections

11. What has been the biggest part of your success in RLRP?
My coach stays on top of us and tries to bring new experiences to us.  She calls it gentle prodding but I tease back and say there is nothing gentle about your PUSHING!  She makes it easier to stay ahead of the game.
I also think that my situation is unique in that my principal and assistant principal try to expose me to many situations and so a lot of the things we talk about I have already been a part of since we started our school up from the rubble of Katrina.

12. How has your learning experience been since joining the RLRP program?
I believe that the program is what you make of it.  You can either choose to go through the motions as a means to the end or you can be an active participant the whole way through.  I have chosen to participate in all options provided including the study sessions provided by another Learning Team Coach (Mrs. Pat).

13. What has been most rewarding since joining the RLRP program?
The feeling of accomplishment and being able to put my words into action with my own children.  They see me working towards a goal just as they are in school.

14. What piece of advice do you have for anyone considering the program?
Just do it.  It may seem like 14 months is a long time but it flies by and as the old saying says “if you don’t start the program, you’ll still be in the same place 14 months from now”  (or something like that)

15. Would you recommend the RLRP program to other teachers? Why?
If you have a passion for making schools a better place for students and adults then I’d say enroll now and be ready for the ride of your life!