Jeff Charbonneau, a leader in science education at Zillah High School and across the state, was 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 had been previously named the Regional Teacher of the Year by the Educational Service District 105, which qualified him for this prestigious state award.
Charbonneau, a 1996 Zillah High School graduate, has taught chemistry, physics, engineering and architecture for 11 years. He’s credited with being a pioneer in expanding learning opportunities under the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program at his school and other schools throughout the state, according to a ESD 105 news release.
Charbonneau has initiated programs allowing high school students to obtain college credits in science, physics, architecture and engineering. This fall, he becomes the first high school teacher in the state to offer five credits in chemistry through Eastern Washington University, the release said.
In 2008, Charbonneau started a program called Zillah Robot Challenge, a robotics competition that offers students a hands-on approach to math and science. Through donations and parent contributions, he’s been able to acquire more than 80 robot kits that are loaned to schools — public and private alike — throughout the state at no cost. Students in the program have six weeks to learn how to assemble and program their robots before competitions. The program has reached more than 850 students in 43 schools in the past four years.
Charbonneau also helped create a student hiking, backpacking and ecology program. Since its 2002 inception, students have gone to Yellowstone National Park, the Beartooth Mountains and the Pacific Crest Trail.
In his nomination letter, Zillah High School principal Mike Torres said,
“Prior to (Charbonneau), 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, coordinated with our career and technology program, and created 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.”
~Phil FerolitoYakima Herald Republic, August 22, 2012