PRAIRIEVILLE, La. (BRPROUD) — Two teachers in the Greater Baton Rouge area were surprised with $25,000 checks Tuesday.

Elise Frederic, a first-grade teacher at Lakeside Primary School in Prairieville, and Dereka Duncan, a fifth-grade science teacher at Cohn Elementary School in Port Allen, each received a Milken Educator Award for their teaching styles.

Frederic is celebrated for her unique teaching methods that get her students engaged in the classroom while learning phonics, according to the Milken Family Foundation. She uses sand or gel and mirrors to improve their reading skills.

Duncan has challenged her fifth-grade students to dream big and shoot for the stars to go into fields of engineering, science and technology, the foundation said.

A news release said that Frederic and Duncan were surprised with the award Tuesday in front of their students and colleagues.

Here’s what Louisiana Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley said of both teachers:

“Elise Frederic is an educator who stays ahead of the curve in constantly discovering new methods to improve student outcomes,” said Brumley. “By also serving as a guide for fellow teachers, every child at Lakeside Primary benefits from her dedication to her craft.”

“Students do more than learn science in Dereka Duncan’s class, they participate in experiences that allow them to see themselves as scientists, engineers, and researchers,” said Brumley. “She is the type of transformational educator who will help move our state forward.”