“Welcome to another day in paradise!” That’s how Board-certified science teacher Jeff Charbonneau, the 2013 National Teacher of the Year, greets his students at Zillah High School (Zillah, WA). A joyful teacher who admits he feels like he hasn’t gone to ‘work’ since he started teaching, Charbonneau, 35, believes that every student can be a successful STEM learner, given the opportunity and support.
When Charbonneau arrived at Zillah High School in 2001, the school had no science or engineering curricula. Technology classes were held off-site. Calling on volunteer scientists, researchers, and parents, Charbonneau created the Zillah Science Boosters and the Zillah Robot Challenge. Free to any student in the state, the Challenge teaches students to assemble and program their own robots—and compete with other robots at an annual meet. More than 1200 students have taken part since the Challenge began in 2007.
Charbonneau will be a featured speaker at the 2013 Annual National Blue Ribbon Ceremony in Washington, DC, November 18–19.
Today, Zillah’s graduation rate is 95% and nearly every Zillah student graduates with some college credit. Charbonneau has acquired adjunct faculty status with local universities and more than 70 classes at Zillah High School can result in credits from state universities or community colleges. Charbonneau has a B.S. in Biology and a Masters of Education from Central Washington University and serves as co-president of the Zillah Education Association.
At a Rose Garden ceremony in which President Barack Obama honored Charbonneau and the State Teachers of the Year, Charbonneau said “I firmly believe we are a nation of succeeding schools. It is time to share the message that the students in the United States have some of the best opportunities to succeed. Their teachers are high-quality educators, their districts are pro-active about their educations, and their government is committed to implementing real reform measures.”
The Council of Chief State Officers selected Charbonneau as the 63rd National Teacher of the Year for his passion in making science and engineering exhilarating and accessible to students. The teacher-of-the year program began in 1952 to focus public attention on excellence in teaching. Learn more about the CCSSO Teacher of the Year program.
Follow the National Teacher of the Year at #NTOY13 and Jeff Charbonneau at @JeffCharbonneau