Still in shock after a 10:30 p.m. assembly at Joshua ISD’s Loflin Middle School, eighth-grade science teacher Christal Bookhamer said she walked slowly to the podium after hearing her name called to ensure she didn’t stumble.
“I had no idea they were going to call my name,” Bookhamer said. “There are so many incredible teachers on this campus that any one of us could have been chosen. This is an honor for Joshua ISD, which is an incredible district academically and one no other can compare with.”
Bookhamer — who has taught eight years, all of them at Loflin — received one of this year’s Milken Educator Awards, an award presented to outstanding educators by the Milken Family Foundation.
Milken Family Foundation co-founder and Chairman Lowell Milken presented the award, which was a surprise to all in attendance, save a select few.
About 2,600 educators across America have received the award since its inception in 1987, 45 of which were Texas recipients. Texas joined the program in 2000. Bookhamer is the sole Texas recipient among about 40 educators across the country to receive the award this year.
“I had the secret for so long it nearly killed me not to be able to tell anyone else,” Loflin Principal Damon Patterson said after the ceremony. “I [first learned Bookhamer was under consideration for the award] in June, but didn’t find out for sure until Nov. 1 or so.”
Bookhamer, after the ceremony, said neither she nor the rest of the staff had any idea what to expect going into Thursday’s assembly.
“There was an email we were going to have a staff meeting and there was a secret,” Bookhamer said. “People thought maybe [former President George Bush] was coming or the school was going to get some kind of award.”
Milken created the Milken Educator Awards to recognize the value of outstanding educators and to encourage students to seek careers in teaching.