A Pacific Northwest science teacher, Jeff Charbonneau of Zillah, WA, has been named the 2013 national teacher of the year by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
Since Charbonneau started teaching in 2001 at Zillah High School (ZHS)—the same school he attended as a student—he has encouraged his students to realize their full potential. Ninety percent of last year’s graduating class went on to college and apprenticeships, and ZHS Principal Mike Torres credits a large part of that success to a program Charbonneau started to help students get college credit for the classes they take. This year, students will be able to earn college credit in four of Charbonneau’s classes. To accomplish this, he has become an adjunct faculty member at Yakima Valley Community College, Central Washington University, and Eastern Washington University.
“I greet my students in class every day by saying, ‘Welcome back to another day in paradise,’ Charbonneau told the CCSO. “The reality is that paradise must be built, maintained, and improved each day. It removes the words ‘can’t,’ ‘too hard’ and ‘impossible’ from our vocabulary. This concept has become my philosophy of teaching, as I foster self-confidence, academic success, collaboration, and dedication within my classroom, school, and greater community.”
President Barack Obama honored Charbonneau, along with the three other finalists for National Teacher of the Year, at a White House ceremony earlier this week. Next school year, Charbonneau will travel the United States and abroad, serving as a national and international advocate for education. A substitute will teach his classes at ZHS until he returns.
Education Northwest has enjoyed working with the Zillah School District on our Washington English Language Learners Demonstration Project, and we’re fortunate to have Jeff Charbonneau and other excellent teachers like him in our region.