Jeff Charbonneau – 2013 National Teacher of the Year
2013 Washington Teacher of the Year and the 2013 National Teacher of the Year
Zillah High School, Zillah, Washington
Chemistry, Physics, Engineering
For Jeffrey Charbonneau, every day in teaching is a “day in paradise” for him and his students, but for anyone who thinks that is an easy-to-achieve idea, think again.
As he says, “Paradise must be built, maintained and improved each and every day. It requires sweat equity, triumphs over adversity, and consistently positive attitudes. Paradise also removes the words ‘can’t,’ ‘too hard,’ and ‘impossible’ from our vocabulary. Great teachers create a paradise within their own classroom, but also in their school and greater community.”
To create such a paradise, Jeff follows six strategies:
- Today is the most important day for every one of his students;
- Great teachers do not allow failure;
- Great teachers create a culture of high ambition and lead by example;
- Great teachers help all students, not just the students in their classes;
- Great teachers are part of the solution;
- Great teachers help their peers become better.
Through the focus on these principles, he expects the fostering of self-confidence, academic success, collaboration and dedication throughout the education system.
From refusing to punish students who do not learn on his schedule as long as they learn the subject, to creating a Robot Challenge program, particularly to give students who arrive early each morning and need a place to hang but who may not take his classes, some opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Jeff strives to create an on-going education “paradise” that understands such an accomplishment is rarely created by the status quo.
Jeff’s principal calls him the best example of a performance-based school leader. “Jeff consistently selects outcome-driven criteria to evaluate his students and programs, and to determine if expectations are being met and, therefore, if plans of action to address areas of need should be implemented. He sets high goals for students, providing support and guidance for them, and his years of experience have enabled him to problem solve various issues and come to realistic solutions.” What is even more impressive, his principal emphasizes, “is his ability to implement innovative programs impacting student success and opportunities.”