WASHINGTON, D.C. — Twelve years ago, Zillah High School in Washington state had no engineering classes. The science curriculum was lagging behind, and students had to go off campus to take technology classes.
Jeff Charbonneau, who returned to his hometown 11 years ago to teach at Zillah High, was determined to change that. And he did. Science enrollment is way up. Kids are graduating with college-level science credits. The school expects to have to hire more teachers now to meet the demand.
On Tuesday, April 23, President Obama honored Mr Charbonneau as the 2013 National Teacher of the Year.
According to The White House blog, “Mr Charbonneau teaches chemistry, physics, and engineering, and works to create accessible, interactive lessons that help convince kids that the science classes most students consider hardest are worth diving in to, not running away from.”
President Obama said that what is true for Mr Charbonneau is also true for the other state Teachers of the Year, who stood behind the President during the event.
“They understand that their job is more than teaching subjects like reading or chemistry. They’re not just filling blackboards with numbers and diagrams. In classrooms across America, they’re teaching things like character and compassion and resilience and imagination. They’re filling young minds with virtues and values, and teaching our kids how to cooperate and overcome obstacles.”
The President later added: “Any parent knows it’s hard to drop your son off or your daughter off at school that first time. In the instant the car door slams or the school bus door shuts, there is a little flutter that goes on. I like quoting somebody who said that being a parent is like having your heart outside your body wandering around,” said Mr Obama. “But these teachers, they're the ones that we trust with our kids. They’re people who love our kids.”
In The Rose Garden early Tuesday afternoon, the President again honored the adults killed on 12/14.
“A few months ago, we saw the true depths of a teacher’s commitment when six educators were killed trying to protect the children they embraced as their own. There was the teacher who locked her first grade students in a bathroom and whispered, ‘I love you,’ because, in her words, ‘I wanted that to be the last thing they heard, and not gunfire.’ The special education teacher who was found cradling a student in her arms, trying to protect him from the evil that ultimately took them both,” he said.
“In those moments, those brave teachers showed the world what they do is more than just educate kids. They embrace them and they nurture them and they love them. And we know that the men and women behind me do the same.”
The National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) is a professional award. The program began in 1952, as a project by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and aims to reward excellence in teaching. Each year’s teacher is selected 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.
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, pre-kindergarten through grade 12, 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; and be poised, articulate, and possess the energy to withstand a taxing schedule.
CCSSO announced Mr Charbonneau as the 63rd National Teacher of the Year on Monday, April 22. 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.