Huffpost Politics

Obama Salutes Teacher Of The Year Jeff Charbonneau

Posted: Updated:
President Barack Obama is honoring the finalists for the 2013 National Teacher of the Year award and saluting the winner, a Washington state teacher credited with improving science enrollment at his high school. (Getty Images Photo) | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama honored finalists Tuesday for the 2013 National Teacher of the Year award and saluted the winner, a Washington state teacher credited with improving science enrollment at his high school.

The winner is Jeff Charbonneau, a science teacher at Zillah High School in Washington state's Yakima Valley.

Obama also made special mention of the six educators who died last December in Newtown, Conn., during a shooting spree where a lone gunman also killed 20 elementary school children.

The president said teachers encourage children's passions and inspire their imaginations.

"These teachers, they are the ones we entrust with our kids, they are the people who love our kids," he said.

Obama said the teachers didn't go into this line of work for light hours and easy work, but because of their passion for helping children. He thanked them for not only instructing a given subject, but also teaching students character, compassion, resilience and imagination.

"They're filling young minds with virtues and values," he said. "They're teaching our kids to cooperate and overcome obstacles."

Charbonneau started a program to help students get college credit for the classes they take at the high school but not through Advanced Placement tests.

Charbonneau started teaching in 2001 at Zillah. He instructs students in chemistry, physics, engineering and architecture, and he runs a statewide robotics competition, serves as yearbook adviser and started an outdoors club.

Charbonneau said he greets his students every day with, "Welcome back to another day in paradise." He said the work brings its own reward.

"You see the wrinkles," he said during the award ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. "Wrinkles are the born witness to the hours of laughter and the moments of joy that come from sharing the art of discovery with our students."

The president said he has a "soft spot" for teachers since his sister is and mother was an educator. While math and science teachers are often lauded, he also recognized English, art, music and history teachers for inspiring children to pursue their passion.

As Obama took pictures with the educators, he joked that if any have problems with their students, "tell them the president said ...," and the teachers laughed.


Associated Press writer Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.

Also on HuffPost:

Barack Obama's Greatest Hits
Share this
Current Slide

Suggest a correction

Around the Web

Obama honors Burbank's Rebecca Mieliwocki as teacher of the year ...

President Obama Welcomes the Teacher of the Year | The White ...

2013 National Teacher of Year: Public education not in crisis

Obama Honors National Teacher of The Year - ABC News

Obama salutes national teacher of the year

Obama's day: Education, diplomacy, outreach - USA Today

2013 National Teacher of the Year named - Washington Post

President Obama holds a science fair; top teacher disagrees with his policies ...

Editorial: Teacher of the year Jeff Charbonneau excels, inspires

Washington teacher named national teacher of the year

Is Obama teaching the class? Common core fight heats up in Montgomery

Washington Teacher Named “2013 National Teacher of the Year”