Washington State Teacher of the Year Finalist for National Title

I knew it.

I met the Washington State teacher of the year, Jeff Charbonneau, last week.  He was so impressive and I told him I wouldn't be surprised if he were one of the four national finalists.  And it was announced today that he is a finalist.   The National Teacher of the Year will be announced in April.

Jeff teaches physics, chemistry and engineering at Zillah High School in Zillah, Washington (outside of Yakima).   They have 400 students. 

After years of perseverance,  he was able to offer college-level classes.  In his classroom alone, students can earn 24 college credits. 

What makes Zillah outstanding?  Despite a high minority population (Latino), the school graduates 96% of their seniors.

From the Zillah School District:

Charbonneau is a National Board Certified STEM teacher, adjunct faculty at three colleges and universities, Pro-Cert and National Board mentor, co-president of his local Education Association and advisor to numerous clubs. He has created a series of college-level offerings in math and science that allow students in rural Zillah to earn up to 24 college credits before graduating.
Outside of the classroom, Charbonneau has created a statewide robotics challenge that has served almost 1,000 students. His Pathfinders club teaches backpacking and hiking skills along with environmental studies and community service. His yearbook recently digitally preserved over eighty years of the publication for enjoyment by alumni and future generations.
From the Yakima Valley:
In recent years, he has successfully initiated articulation agreements that have given him adjust faculty status with several institutions of higher learning, allowing his students to obtain college credits with their high school science class. Since the fall of 2010, Zillah’s students have been able to earn 10 credits in physics through an agreement with Central Washington University. In the fall of 2011, Zillah High School students were able to receive three credits in engineering, and six in architecture through Yakima Valley Community College.

This fall, he will become the first high school instructor in the state to offer five credits in chemistry through Eastern Washington University. In a nomination letter, Torres said that prior to Charbonneau, they did not have technology courses at the high school, and students went off campus to receive instruction in the area.

“Jeff brought life to the concept of how we could incorporate these classes using the Computer Assisted Design program, coordinate with our Career and Technology Education program, and create opportunities for students in the areas of engineering that will further enhance the chances of students continuing in the field of science after high school graduation.
“I have a strange habit of welcoming my students to the class the same way every class period of every day,” Charbonneau said in his application for the award. “I say, ‘Welcome back to another day in paradise’. Paradise simply cannot be found. It must be built, maintained, and improved each and every day. It requires sweat equity, triumphs in the face of adversity, and consistent positive attitudes. It removes the words ‘can’t’, ‘too hard’ and ‘impossible.” To be a great teacher, one must strive to create a paradise not only within their own classroom, but also in their school and great community.”
Jeff is such an inspiration and it was a pleasure to meet him.  I hope he wins the national title. 


Catherine said…
Congrats and I wish him good luck in the finals!
mirmac1 said…
Yay! That's great news! : )
WATOY2013 said…
Hi Melissa,

Thank you so much for the kind words.

I too was impressed - by you - when we met at the State Board meeting.

Your enthusiasm, drive, and commitment to improve education for students not only in your area, but all students, is truly commendable.

If there is ever an issue you think I might be able to help with, please let me know.


Jeff Charbonneau
Zillah High School

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