NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Mount Carmel Academy opened it’s doors way back in 1840. From those small beginnings in the French Quarter, now sits a sprawling campus in Lakeview. 1,232 girls attend the Catholic school, but only 61 can call themselves Carmelettes.
The dance team is essential to the soul of the school, a tradition that’s carried on for decades.
“I remember watching them at open house and saying oh my goodness, what do I have to do to be a Carmelette. These girls are so talented. This is where I want to go to school. This is what I want to do. It was just instant, it was that quick,” said Carmelette alum Sabrina Culotta.
“My mom was a Carmelette actually, and my aunt, and my cousin. It kind of ran in my family. So I always wanted to be a Carmelette,” said Carmelette Elise Gruener.
The Carmelettes own state and national dance championships. The one constant during those titles, Coach Gloria Doran. Misses Gloria joined the Mount Carmel faculty in the 1970′s. She signed on to be a teacher, but those responsibilities soon multiplied once she stepped on campus.
“I was hired to teach American history, civics, and Algebra 1. Then I was told, I see you have a degree in dance, you’re going to take over the dance team. Yes sister, so I did that. The job was given to me, and it was the best gift they could’ve given,” said Carmelette Head Coach Gloria Doran.
Misses Gloria is in year 43 as the head coach of the Carmelettes. She’s universally loved at Mount Carmel thanks to a unique personality, and a ferocious work ethic.
“Gloria would be one of the faces of Mount Carmel Academy. Because when you think of Mount Carmel, you think of student activities, Carmelette dance team, it’s Gloria. There were many captains who worked under her, there were many parents who helped her, many stars who went on to be great dancers. But the name that’s there is Gloria Doran,” said Sister Camille Anne, President of Mount Carmel.
Current Carmelettes say she’s the glue that holds it all together.
“She puts her heart and soul into Carmelettes in everything she does. She touches everyone person’s lives involved in the team, past and present. She knows how to connect with every person that she meets, and she never meets a stranger,” said Carmelette Lindsey Lott.
“She’s very loud. She’s out of this world. She sacrifices so much for us. I feel like a lot of other coaches are just not like Miss Doran. She’s one of a kind,” said Carmelette Taylor Rivera.
Forty-three years in the same profession is a long time. The hours can be brutal, there’s always the need to sacrifice family time for the good of the team. But Misses Gloria wouldn’t have it any other way.
“What makes me do what I do is that I love what I do. If you love something as I do, and there’s days I’m like oh gosh I have to go to school. I say go to school, I never say I have to go to work. Or I have to go to my job. I’m being honest about that. It’s a family oriented place, I have friends here for life,” said Doran.
Next May Misses Gloria will retire as the head coach of the Carmelettes. That’s no more practices, no more Friday night football games, or parades. So now comes the tough part, what to do next August when school starts.
“It will be a very emotional time. I’m feeling it now as your talking to me. But I do deserve a new chapter in my life. I’ve been married to the same husband for 44 years, Raymond. I have four children, four in-laws, and I have nine grandchildren that I want to spend a little bit more time with. Those are by far, and I love this school, but there’s nobody I love more than my children, grandchildren, and my husband,” said Doran.
Yes, Misses Gloria is retiring, but don’t you worry, she’ll be back. When a substitute teacher is needed, or a call for advice comes, the word ‘no’ is never an option for an institution you love so much.