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Zillah School District Educator Named Teacher of the Year
Innovative science instructor inspires success in demanding coursework

SEATTLE — September 17, 2012 — 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 both Charbonneau 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.”

Regional winners
Monte Syrie, English Teacher
Educational Service District 101
Cheney High School | Cheney School District

Jeffrey Charbonneau, Science Teacher
Educational Service District 105
Zillah High School | Zillah School District

Eric Saueracker, Math and Science Teacher
Educational Service District 112
Hudson’s Bay High School | Vancouver School District

Pamelia Valentine, Visual Arts Teacher
Educational Service District 113
Oakland Bay Junior High School | Shelton School District

Richard Newell, Spanish Teacher
Educational Service District 114
Central Kitsap High School | Central Kitsap School District

Darcy Smith, 6th-Grade Teacher
Educational Service District 121
McMicken Heights Elementary | Highline School District

Brian Sites, Math and Social Studies Teacher
Educational Service District 123
River’s Edge High School | Richland School District

Barbara Quintasket, Science Teacher
Educational Service District 171
Paschal Sherman Indian School | Omak School District

Rick Gile, Senior Naval Science Teacher
Educational Service District 189
Everett High School | Everett School District

Next steps
The 2013 State Teacher of the Year, Jeffrey Charbonneau, will be considered for national Teacher of the Year, which is awarded by the Council of Chief State School Officers. President Obama will announce the winner in a special ceremony at the White House in the spring.

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 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


About OSPI
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.

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Nathan Olson
OSPI Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015

For more information

Photos and bios of Washington’s 2013 Teacher of the Year finalists

Teacher of the Year nomination and selection process

National Teacher of the Year program


   Updated 4/23/2013

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