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When It Comes to Student Potential, the Sky’s the Limit! New Iberia Math Teacher Earns $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Christine Bayard's out-of-the-box thinking is "out of this world" at Johnston-Hopkins Elementary

February 06, 2024

Santa Monica, Calif. — Johnston-Hopkins Elementary School sixth grade math teacher Christine Bayard (pronounced "Bye-yard") often transforms her classroom into extraordinary, real-world environments – including outer space, a race car factory, and a construction site, to name a few. However, students, colleagues and dignitaries today witnessed a transformation of astronomical proportions when their school assembly culminated in a celebration for Bayard! Milken Educator Awards Founder Lowell Milken, joined by State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley, presented Bayard with the national Award and its $25,000 unrestricted cash prize.

"Christine Bayard is an innovative, instructional leader who infuses the joy and adventure of learning in everything she does," said Lowell Milken. "Her exemplary dedication to educational excellence serves as an inspiration to students and fellow colleagues. We thank Christine for selecting teaching for her career and look forward to the contributions she will bring to the national Milken Educator Network."

In addition to today's fanfare, the Iberia Parish School District teacher joins the prestigious Milken Educator Network, a national group of exceptional professionals working to "Celebrate, Elevate, and Activate" the K-12 profession.

"Ms. Bayard's classroom is an innovative space where math transcends textbooks and students engage in real world lessons," said Dr. Brumley. "Her commitment to a student-centered approach is seen through academic outcomes and the difference she has made throughout her school."

Hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching," the Awards will honor up to 75 recipients across the country in 2023-24 as part of the Milken Family Foundation’s Journey to the 3,000th Milken Educator. 2023-24 will reach $75 million in individual financial prizes spanning the length of the initiative and more than $144 million invested in the Milken Educator Award national network overall.

Bayard was completely unaware of her candidacy for the Award. Recipients are sought out while early to mid-career for what they have achieved – and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities afforded by the Award.

More About Christine Bayard

An "Astronomical" Approach to Teaching: Sixth grade students in Christine Bayard's classroom at Johnston-Hopkins Elementary School (JHOP) explore math concepts far beyond the pages of their textbooks. Collaboration is encouraged as students work through Bayard's engaging units, seeing how math plays a pivotal role in daily life. Donning a full space suit for class, Bayard transforms lessons on decimals and rate reasoning into experiences that are truly "out of this world." Students calculate how much food, water and oxygen is needed to live on Mars for two years, how long a Mars text message would take to send to Earth, and how many days it would take to ride a horse to the moon. Bayard's classroom also becomes a construction site, where students use cubes to build habitats after calculating the cost, revenue and profit or loss for their projects. Then, stepping foot into the racing world, students explore fractions by virtually building racecars, working through weight’s effect on speed and velocity. Games are no stranger to Bayard's classroom – students are eager to review what they have learned by competing in "mathketball" teams. Bayard's students show consistent value-added achievement growth thanks in large part to her "astronomical" instructional and professional leadership.

A Leader and Mentor at JHOP and Beyond: Bayard serves on JHOP's instructional leadership team (ILT) as a mentor teacher, where she supports schoolwide instructional and curriculum strategy through a partnership with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET). Working alongside the 3-6th  grade math and science master teacher, Bayard helps lead collaborative professional development meetings, teacher observations and coaching efforts – where her data-driven mindset is essential to facilitating evaluations and providing meaningful feedback. Beyond JHOP, Bayard has contributed her skillset at both state and national levels, serving as a certified Louisiana mentor teacher and presenting at the 2023 national NIET conference with her master teacher on effective coaching strategies. 

Contributions to a Positive Culture in the School and Community: Working to provide a student-centered educational experience, Bayard strives to build positive and motivating environments both in and out of the classroom. JHOP's math club was established by Bayard and has consistently achieved gold-level status as a national math club through MATHCOUNTS. She also co-sponsors JHOP's Jr. Beta Club, co-founded the reading mentor program, and assists in planning “Fun Day” at the end of the year. Bayard is known for being one of JHOP's biggest "Dress-up Day" participants and makes Pi Day memorable by transforming into "Superhero Pi" to hand out Moon Pies to students. In the community, Bayard coaches youth t-ball and soccer, and volunteers as a stagehand. 

Education: Bayard is a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology with a minor in child and family studies in 2009 and completed the alternative teacher education program in 2017 in the area of 4-8 middle school math. 

More about the Milken Educator Award Journey: "The Future Belongs to the Educated"

  • The honorees attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles this June, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to broaden their impact on K-12 education.
  • Honorees receive powerful mentorship opportunities for expanded leadership roles that strengthen education practice and policy. Milken Friends Forever (MFF) pairs a new recipient with a veteran Milken Educator mentor; the Expanding MFF Resource and Explorer Program fosters individual veteran Milken Educator partnerships around a specific topic area; and Activating Milken Educators (AME) promotes group collaboration in and across states to tackle pressing educational needs.
  • Veteran Milken Educators demonstrate a wide range of leadership roles at state, national and international levels.
  • The $25,000 cash Award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. Some recipients have spent the funds on their children's or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children. 

Follow the Milken Educator Awards tour and use the #MEA3K and #MilkenAward hashtags on: Facebook (MilkenEducatorAwards) | X (Milken) | YouTube (MilkenAward) | Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn) | LinkedIn (MilkenFamilyFdn) | TikTok (MilkenAward).

Visit or call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4772 for more information.

About the Milken Educator Awards
The first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. Created by philanthropist and education visionary Lowell Milken, the Awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. The Milken Family Foundation celebrates more than 40 years of elevating education in America and around the world. Learn more at