Jeff CharbonneauJeff Charbonneau WA headshot
2013 National Teacher of the Year
Chemistry, Physics and Engineering Teacher
Zillah High School, Zillah, Washington


Jeff Charbonneau is a chemistry, physics and engineering teacher at Zillah High School in Zillah, Washington. He’s been working in this position for his entire 12 year teaching career. Jeff 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. In addition to his role as a science instructor at ZHS, Jeff is a yearbook advisor, drama assistant director, science club advisor, and is the 9th grade class advisor. He also is an adjunct faculty member at three colleges and universities, allowing students who do take his classes to earn 24-college credits upon successful completion. Jeff admits his classes are “more rigorous” but says they are designed to be accessible. He’s created interactive learning experiences, like the robot challenge, to help students develop confidence in their abilities. Jeff said, “I believe my greatest accomplishments are revealed each time a student realizes that he or she has an unlimited potential. The rest are simply vehicles to make it happen.”


Support for Jeff Charbonneau


“Jeff’s passion for education and learning extends beyond the boundaries of the classroom. What makes him unique is his ability to get students motivated about their own learning and guide them to becoming advocates of their education,” said Mike Torre, Principal of Zillah High School. “This produces students who can think outside the status quo and become the next generation of innovators.”


“Jeff Charbonneau is an inspiration to his students and to every teacher in Washington. He understands that great teachers create a culture of high ambition and lead by example, and help students become better citizens in their communities,” said Randy Dorn, Washington state Superintendent of Public Instruction. “He is the perfect choice for this honor, and I know he will do an outstanding job of teaching the nation about the innovative ideas happening every day in Washington’s public schools.”


“We know that teachers are essential to helping students meet high expectations,” said Chris Minnich, Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers. “Jeff’s story shows us that collaboration and cooperation in the classroom, school and community is essential to creating a successful high-quality education for all students. Congratulations to Jeff, the State of Washington, and all of the Teachers of the Year.“


“We are pleased to honor Jeffrey Charbonneau, from our home state of Washington, as the 2013 National Teacher of the Year, and invite him to travel with us to China this summer,” said Tony Dombrowik, interim CEO of Ambassadors Group, Inc. “Providing Jeffrey with the opportunity to expand his international perspective and engage with other educators abroad is essential to our mission of fostering global citizenship and cross-cultural understanding.”


“It is an honor to once again sponsor this program, which gives deserved recognition to those educating and tapping into our children’s potential,” said Rhonda Mims, president of the ING Foundation and senior vice president of ING U.S.’s office of Corporate Responsibility. “ING congratulates Jeff Charbonneau on this distinction and the other state winners for their commitment to children across the country.”


“Congratulations to national teacher of the year Jeffrey Charbonneau who creates interactive learning experiences for his students, so they not only learn content, but gain confidence and understand how this knowledge applies to real world scenarios,” said Dr. Meredith Curley, Dean of the College of Education at University of Phoenix “Charbonneau is a true teacher leader whose approach and engagement will impact students long after they graduate. The educators who have been named Teachers of the Year are using their classrooms to spark change in the lives of their students and communities. University of Phoenix is proud to support these teacher leaders by providing full-tuition scholarships they can ‘teach forward’ to deserving individuals. Changing students’ paths and opening new doors are the true rewards of teaching and the University wants to recognize the dedication of these inspiring teacher by giving them an opportunity to profoundly impact the lives of other individuals. “