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New Iberia elementary teacher wins $25,000, 'Milken Educator Award'

10 years ago, Christine Bayard was working retail. Now, she's been nationally recognized, receiving what's been referred to as 'the Oscar of teaching.'
Posted at 5:30 PM, Feb 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-08 19:36:03-05
  • Students, staff, and special guests filed into Johnston-Hopkins Elementary for a surprise presentation.
  • 6th grade math teacher Christine Bayard was presented the Milken Educator Award in front of the entire school.


On Tuesday, Feb. 6, students, staff, and special guests filed into the Johnston-Hopkins Elementary School cafeteria for a surprise presentation.

"Let's embrace this day with high hopes, soaring spirits, and unspeakable joy," said Principal Ashley Lewis.

A step team dance performance, and various speeches took place, leading up to the main event. Dubbed as 'the Oscar of teaching,' The Milken Educator Award is a $25,000 prize, given out to 75 teachers nationwide.

"I was asking some of the students," said founder and chairman Lowell Milken, addressing the student body, "do you know why I am here today? It's a secret."

Sitting in the back row of the audience is 6th grade math teacher Christine Bayard, who had no idea that she was the recipient.

"The Milken Educator Award," said Milken, "goes to Christine Bayard!"

The room immediately erupted with cheers and applause as Bayard made her way to the front of the room. According to her nominators, Bayard 'uses her classroom as an innovative space for student-centered learning.' The New Iberia native also has a partnership with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching working as a master teacher.

"The moment I heard my name, I heard students on my right saying 'I told you! I told you!'"

Humbly accepting her $25,000 award, Bayard credits her husband for pushing her out of retail and into the classroom.

"I was like 'I can't go back to school and become a teacher,' I had a one-year-old at the time," said Bayard. "But he helped me do that I am."