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TEA News Releases Online Dec. 5, 2013

JOSHUA – Commissioner of Education Michael Williams today joined Milken Family Foundation Co-Founder and Chairman Lowell Milken in presenting the 2013 Milken Educator Award to Christal Bookhamer, an eighth-grade science teacher in the Joshua Independent School District (JISD).

Bookhamer is the state’s sole 2013 recipient of one of education’s most prestigious recognitions, which comes with a cash prize of $25,000. The award was formally announced in a surprise presentation during a school assembly at Bookhamer’s home campus, Loflin Middle School.

“This award affirms my belief that great teaching can be found in every school district across our state no matter the size of the community,” said Commissioner Williams. “I congratulate Christal Bookhamer on this well-deserved recognition, and applaud her dedication to providing her students with exemplary instruction every school day.”

Bookhamer’s approach to teaching science brings with it an exciting and interactive experience for her students. She dresses up in military fatigues to promote her Science Bootcamp and sings in cadence as she marches around the lunchroom. However, it’s not just about fun and games. Bookhamer is serious about learning and improving her students’ academic performance.

The two-week Science Bootcamp she conducts prior to state assessments reinforces scientific concepts. The preparation augments classroom learning to produce high-achieving students. In 2012, her students achieved a 99 percent passing rate on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) Science test.

Her effective teaching style has been showcased as exemplary during district administrator and staff development sessions. She co-presents a workshop called “What’s Your Target?” that reviews college readiness standards and helps instructors make these standards applicable in their classrooms. She has also presented best practices to JISD’s elementary and middle school in-service days.

Candidates for the Milken Educator Awards are selected on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Exceptional educational talent as evidenced by effective instructional practices and student learning results in the classroom and school;
  • Exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide models of excellence for the profession;
  • Individuals whose contributions to education are largely unheralded yet worthy of the spotlight;
  • Early- to mid-career educators who offer strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership; and
  • Engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.

As a new award recipient, Bookhamer will be invited to join the Milken Educator Network, a group of distinguished educators coast to coast whose expertise serves as a valuable resource to fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others shaping the future of education.  Since first presented to a dozen California teachers, the program has grown to become the nation’s preeminent teacher recognition program having honored nearly 2,600 K-12 teachers, principals and specialists. More than $136 million in funding, including over $64 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the overall program, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers. For more information about the Milken Educator Awards, visit