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T.L. Rodes Teacher Deemed a Rock Star and Gold Star

Team work makes the dream work and if you ask anyone at T.L. Rodes Elementary in Haughton, first grade teacher Leslie Raley is the epitome of a team player and leader among her peers. It is why she was nominated for – and the winner of – Bossier Schools’  Gold Star award for November. 

“She pours her heart into her grade level, always making sure they have everything they need,” Shelley Lowery expressed.

“She is always willing to share any new techniques or resources that she finds so our entire team can benefit from them,” Tiffany Page added. “She is a dedicated teacher who is always looking for the best and most up to date way to reach her students. Her hard work does not go unnoticed and our First Grade Team would not be the same without her.” 

Principal Stephanie Cockrell agrees.

“Mrs. Raley leads her team with humility and grace. She is a rock star in the classroom, but you would never hear her say that! She has a love for the science of reading and a passion for ALL students to become readers.” 

Cockrell also shared, “During the summer before I became the new principal at Rodes, Leslie had heard about my passion for foundational reading and we began sharing reading articles and new books on the science of reading through email and texts before we had even officially met! Her desire to learn all that she could was something I instantly loved about her. I knew she was ‘my people’ even before we met.” 

Raley has taught at T.L. Rodes for 10 years and is exactly where she wants to be, having grown up in the Haughton area, and doing what she has always dreamed of doing. 

“I remember playing school as a child and always wanting to be the teacher,” Raley confided. 

She also remembers visiting Meadowview Elementary when she was a student in the Bossier Youth Leadership program and enjoying interacting with the children. 

“After each visit, one of us was selected for an award. I was chosen to receive the award for patience because of how well I worked with the students at Meadowview. I felt like this was one of many signs that teaching was my calling,” Raley explained.

Now, Raley has her own classroom, teaching dozens of little people each day. 

“First grade is so much fun,” she said. “They love you and find very little fault in just about anything you say or do. They are independent, but need you all the same. I know without a doubt that first grade is where I am meant to be.” 

And you can bet her first graders love to read because reading is Raley’s passion and one she instills in her students.  

“First grade development is crucial for literacy and I want to be sure that I provide my students every opportunity to succeed,” Raley shared. “During Covid, I came across a few literacy teachers online and I liked what they were sharing. I decided to dig a little deeper and it all just made perfect sense. Little did I know, Science of Reading was about to become a BIG deal. Through the years of teaching, we have always taught phonics and phonological awareness, but I don’t feel like there was a big emphasis on it as there is now. I wholeheartedly believe that the ideas behind Science of Reading is the key to successful readers and I want to make sure that I am making every effort to cover all the skills that it encompasses.” 

It is evident that Raley is a difference maker, not just in her classroom and at T.L. Rodes, but throughout Bossier Parish and why she more than earns the distinction as Bossier Schools’ shining Gold Star!  

Editor’s note: Know an unsung hero who works for Bossier Schools that is deserving of recognition for going above and beyond? Nominate them for the Gold Star award, proudly sponsored for the last 10 years by Bossier Federal Credit Union. Just go to and tell what sets them apart.