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Zillah High School science teacher and regional STEM innovator Jeff Charbonneau (ZHS Class of 1996) is the 2013 National Teacher of the Year!

For media contacts, interview, photos or further information please contact the following:

Kate Dando; 303-818-4738

Paul Ferrari; 508-826-9212

David Goehner 509-454-3131


Media Releases

Meet Jeff Charbonneau-WEA Video:

Yakima Herald Republic Video:

April 22, 2013 CBS Morning Show in New York City:

KIMA TV Video 4-22-2012:

NBC Nightly News:

Horace Mann Blog on Mr. Charbonneau-NTOTY:,+2013&utm_campaign=hml&utm_medium=email

 Jeff Charbonneau Video on Great Teachers and Other Educational Topics.


A Photo Scrapbook of Jeff's Journey to National Teacher of the Year Click Here


The Teaching Channel:  Take this link see the trailer about Mr. Charbonneau and watch for a feature presentation later this year. 


Sunday, April 14, 2013-Seattle WA, Safeco Field.

As Washington Teacher of the Year, Jeff Charbonneau with Mariners Kelly Shoppach getting a few tips about throwing out the Honorary First Pitch. The Mariners vs Rangers MLB game welcomed Exceptional Teachers from across the state. To see an outstanding slide show of the event please go to:


WA Teacher Named 2013 National Teacher of the Year

April 22, 2013, Washington, D.C. - The Council of Chief State School Officers announced today that Jeff Charbonneau, a 9-12th grade Chemistry, Physics and Engineering teacher in Washington state, is the 63rd National Teacher of the Year. Charbonneau, along with all 2013 State Teachers of the Year, will be recognized by President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House, on Tuesday, April 23.

Charbonneau teaches at Zillah High School (ZHS) in Zillah, Washington, where he has spent his entire 12-year teaching career. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and was a member of the William O. Douglas Honors College at Central Washington University, and holds a Masters of Education from Central Washington University. He is a National Board Certified teacher. He has received numerous awards, among them being various business donations and grants totaling more than $25,000 to support the ZHS Robot Challenge, of which he is founder and director.

Jeff also participates as the Zillah Education Association Co-President. He recognizes that many students see his course subjects as the 'hard' science classes and welcomes the challenge to overturn that stigma, saying they are designed to be accessible. He's created interactive learning experiences, like the robot challenge, to help students develop confidence in their abilities.

"I greet my students in class every day by saying, 'Welcome back to another day in paradise,'' said Jeff Charbonneau. '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.'

For a press kit with additional information about Jeff Charbonneau click here. For more information about the National Teacher of the Year program, click here. There will be media availability with Jeff Charbonneau on Monday, April 22 from 10:30 - 12:30 ET. To arrange an interview with him please contact Kate Dando ( or Paul Ferrari ( President Barack Obama will honor the 2013 National Teacher of the Year and all of the State Teachers of the Year at the White House April 23 at 2:00 PM ET.

A panel of educators, representing 15 national education organizations, chose the finalists from the 2013 state teachers of the year in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and four U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. State teachers of the year are selected on the basis of nominations by students, teachers, principals, and school district administrators throughout the states. Applications are then submitted to CCSSO, where the national selection committee reviews the data on each state candidate and selects the four finalists. The selection committee then personally interviews each finalist before naming the National Teacher of the Year. The finalists for 2013 National Teacher of the Year are Rhonda Holmes-Blankenship (Maryland), Alex S. Lopes (Florida) and Heidi Welch (New Hampshire).

NTOTY Information


NTOTY Website is which will allow you to follow all the events happing this week in Washington, DC.

Mr. Charbonneau's selection as the National Teacher of the Year is the latest step in a remarkable, year-long path for the area educator. He was named the Zillah School District Teacher of the Year last February, was selected as the ESD 105 Regional Teacher of the Year in August, then in September emerged from a slate of nine statewide educators to become the 2013 Washington State Teacher of the Year. In January 2013 he was named as one of the Top Four Finalists for National Teacher of the Year.

About the National Teacher of the Year Program The National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) Program began in 1952 and continues as the oldest, most prestigious national honors program that focuses public attention on excellence in teaching. The NTOY is chosen from among the State Teachers of the Year by a National Selection Committee representing the major national education organizations. Each April, the NTOY is introduced to the American people by the President of the United States.

Criteria for Selection A candidate for National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) is a State Teacher of the Year who is an exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable, and skilled teacher in any state-approved or accredited school; prekindergarten through grade twelve, who is planning to continue in an active teaching status. The National Teacher of the Year candidate should

  • inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn
  • have the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues
  • play an active and useful role in the community as well as in the school
  • be poised, articulate, and possess the energy to withstand a taxing schedule


Becoming National Teacher of the Year At the national level each State Teacher of the Year submits a written application containing biographical and professional information, eight essays on topics ranging from personal teaching philosophy to the issues facing education, and letters of endorsement. A National Selection Committee, composed of representatives from fifteen national education organizations, meets in early December to choose four finalists from the nominations received and, following personal interviews with the finalists in Washington, D.C. in late February, selects the National Teacher. In April the National Teacher is introduced to the nation by the President and honored in a series of events in Washington, DC.

The National Selection Committee is represented by these esteemed organizations:

These organizations represent all the major, noncurricular based, national associations representing the education profession. (The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development represents all curricular areas.) Because of the broad range of constituencies within these associations, their consensus view embodies what is current and needed in education. This consensus view truly makes their selection the nation's Teacher of the Year.

Duties of the National Teacher During the official year of recognition, the National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) is released from classroom duties to travel nationally and internationally as a spokesperson and advocate for the teaching profession. The teacher's home state and district ensure the teacher's salary and benefits. All scheduling and logistical arrangements for the National Teacher are coordinated through the NTOY Program. National Teachers average over 150 events each year before audiences ranging from several hundred to over ten thousand. Television, radio, and the print media readily utilize National Teachers to represent the voice of education. The National Teacher may be called upon to represent American educators to audiences in other nations. National Teachers are frequently requested to sit on national and state commissions and policy advising bodies.


ZHS Instructor Mr. Jeff Charbonneau

2012-13 Washington State Teacher of the Year

KIMA TV Video-Finalist for National Teacher of the Year:

Washington State Teacher of the Year Ceremony

KIMA TV Video State Teacher of the Year Announcement

KIMA TV Video-Regional Teacher of the Year Announcement

Jeff Charbonneau, a leader in science education at Zillah High School, the Educational Service District 105 Regional Teacher of the Year for 2012-2013, has been named the Washington State Teacher of the Year as announced by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction on Monday, September 17, during a ceremony at the Experience Music Project / Science Fiction Museum in Seattle.

Charbonneau is a 1996 Zillah High School graduate who returned to his former school in in 2001 to begin his career as a teacher of chemistry, physics, engineering, and architecture. During the past 11 years, he has been a pioneer in expanding opportunities in STEM-focused learning (science, technology, engineering, and math) within his own school district, as well as in schools throughout the region and state.

In recent years, the Zillah teacher has successfully initiated articulation agreements that have given him adjunct faculty status with several area institutions of higher learning, allowing his students to obtain college credits with their high school science classes. Since the fall of 2010, Zillah's students have been able to earn 10 credits in physics through an agreement with Central Washington University. Since the fall of 2011, Zillah students have also been able to receive 3 college credits in engineering and 6 in architecture through Yakima Valley Community College. And this fall, Charbonneau becomes the first high school instructor in the state to offer 5 credits in chemistry through Eastern Washington University.

"At the same time I have made my classes more rigorous, I have also made them more accessible," Charbonneau wrote in his application materials, noting that enrollment in his upper division science courses has increased by more than 20% during the past two years. "Over 60 students in this coming year's junior class - a class of just over 100 students - have signed up to take chemistry. About 26 of the coming year's seniors - a class of just over 80 students - will take physics."

In his nomination letter for Charbonneau, Zillah High School principal Mike Torres wrote: "Prior to [Jeff], we did not have technology courses at Zillah High School and students went off campus to receive instruction in this 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."

In his own nomination letter, Zillah High School guidance counselor John Griffin added: "Jeff's enthusiastic, innovative and technology-infused instruction has increased interest in science in our school and community. More students are choosing science electives to fill their schedules. The requests for science courses have again increased to a point where we are looking at the need to add teaching staff to meet the demand."

In 2008, Charbonneau started a program called the Zillah Robot Challenge, a robotics competition that provides students with practical, hands-on applications of their math and science learning. Through fundraising and parent volunteer efforts, Charbonneau has been able to acquire more than 80 Boe-Bot robot kits that are loaned to public, private, and alternative high schools and middle schools throughout the state at no cost. Students in school teams have approximately 6 weeks to learn how to assemble and program their robots before the competitions. In the past four years, more than 850 students and 65 teachers from 43 different schools have been able to expand their STEM offerings through the nine competitions that the program has hosted so far.

Charbonneau also helped create a student hiking, backpacking, and ecology program called the Leopard Pathfinders. Since 2002, the group has taken students on trips to Yellowstone National Park, the Beartooth Mountains, and the Pacific Crest Trail from Chinook Pass to White Pass in excursions that may last from 1 day to 2 weeks. Several students in the program have gone on to study wildlife, land management, biology, and ecology at the university level.

"I fight a stigma," Charbonneau wrote in his application. "Students hear the words 'quantum mechanics' and instantly think 'too hard' and 'no way.' It is my job to convince them that they are smart enough, that they can do anything. I have created a culture at ZHS that any student can be successful in the upper division sciences. I teach to try and inspire the confidence in others that they can do anything."

Outside of his role as a science educator - which includes responsibilities as the school's Science Club advisor - Charbonneau has helped guide Zillah's students as assistant director of Zillah's drama program. As ASB advisor during 2007-2011, he helped the 400-member student body annually raise more than $1,200 to benefit Special Olympics and earn distinctions as "Largest Fundraising School" through the Yakima County Sheriff Department's Polar Bear Challenge. And as advisor for the school's yearbook, he taught fiscal management that helped the publication turn a profit, and led the development of a website for which students scanned and posted the contents of every Zillah High School yearbook from 1919 through 2002.

Charbonneau has also assisted his fellow educators as an online instructor during 2004-2011 for courses benefitting more than 300 teachers who were pursuing a Continuing Teaching Certificate. He has also offered online cohorts for National Board Certification as an adjunct for CWU, and currently serves as co-president of the Zillah Education Association.

Charbonneau was selected by his fellow colleagues as the Zillah School District's Teacher of the Year in February of 2012 and as the Zillah High School Teacher of the Year in 2004-2005. He was also honored as the Freemasons of Washington's State Outstanding Educator of the Year in 2006.

"I have a strange habit of welcoming my students to class the same way every class period of every day," Charbonneau wrote in his application materials. "I say, 'Welcome back to another day in paradise.' Paradise cannot simply 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 greater community."


OSPI NEWS RELEASE -- Jeffrey Charbonneau, a high school science teacher at Zillah High School in Zillah, 20 miles southeast of Yakima, was named Washington's 2013 Teacher of the Year at an awards ceremony held this afternoon at the EMP Museum in Seattle.

State Superintendent Randy Dorn congratulated the nine Regional Teachers of the Year before announcing the State Teacher of the Year. The event was hosted by EMP and The Beresford Company.

Superintendent Dorn praised the group saying, "Jeff and the 2013 Regional Teachers of the Year represent the best our state has to offer. These teachers are mentors, coaches, community leaders and friends. We couldn't be more proud to claim them as Washington state's teachers, and we celebrate their life-changing work. The selection process is rigorous and these teachers rose to the top."

Program sponsors PEMCO Insurance, SMART Technologies, and Saxton Bradley, Inc., each have donated cash awards, technology prizes and scholarships for classroom improvements for bothCharbonneau and the Regional Teachers of the Year. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and The Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession have provided professional development for all nine finalists.

About Jeffrey Charbonneau
Jeffrey Charbonneau, a National Board Certified Teacher, began teaching science at Zillah High School in 2001. He has been instrumental in creating a series of demanding STEM offerings in his small, rural high school. This year, students will be able to earn college credit in four of Jeff's classes. To accomplish this, Jeff has become an adjunct faculty member at Yakima Valley Community College, Central Washington University, and Eastern Washington University.

Jeff is a whirlwind on a mission. He reminds himself that each day is the most important day of the year for his students, and he fills his plate with responsibilities - both in and out of the classroom - designed to engage all kinds of students. Like many great teachers, Jeff is an advisor to a host of clubs including drama and science. As the yearbook advisor, Jeff led his students in an historical preservation project to digitize all of Zillah's yearbooks - from 1919 to 2002.

Jeff has also designed an exciting robotic challenge open to students from across the state, independent study opportunities, a hiking club that completes community service projects on their trips, and much more. The robot challenge alone has served over 850 students from 43 school districts over the past four years. These opportunities, combined with his innovative instruction, have dramatically increased the interest in science at Zillah. This year, over 60 percent of juniors are registered for chemistry and one-third of seniors will take physics.

Jeff embraces every opportunity to encourage and support colleagues. As an online instructor for both National Board candidates and ProCert, he has been able to mentor teachers across the state. Jeff refutes the notion that we are a nation of failing schools, by reminding educators and community members of the many improvements we have made. He points to our continued efforts to educate all children as evidence of our resiliency.

"I am fortunate to have Jeff as an instructor at Zillah High School," Principal Mike Torres says. "But I am even more fortunate to have him as a teacher for my own children. Both my son and daughter have taken classes from Jeff and they have expressed that he is the type of teacher every student deserves to have. He is innovative, enthusiastic, challenging and motivating. He takes a personal interest in every student. As a parent, I see how Jeff has motivated my children, not only to learn the content, but also to become advocates for learning in general. It is what makes him a standout."

As the 2013 Washington Teacher of the Year, Charbonneau will serve as an ambassador for the teaching profession in 2012-13 while maintaining his duties at Zillah High School.

The award was selected by a two previous state teachers of the year and representatives from the following organizations:

  • Washington Education Association
  • Washington State Board of Education
  • Washington State Parent Teacher Association
  • Office of the Governor
  • Professional Educator Standards Board
  • Washington Technology Industry Association



You may send messages of congratulations to Jeff at this email address

or mail to Jeff Charbonneau, Zillah High School, 1602 Second Avenue, Zillah, WA. 98953-9682