A year and 300,000 frequent flyer miles ago, Jeff Charbonneau, a science and engineering teacher from the small town of Zillah in Eastern Washington, started his journey as the 2013 National Teacher of the Year.
His travels took him to 32 states as well as China and Japan. He gave roughly 175 speeches to crowds as big as 9,000 people and as few as 40. He’s met with future teachers as well as governors, state education chiefs, and members of Congress.
As he finishes up his term as the nation’s top teacher, we caught up with him between trips, to see what he’s been thinking and doing.
Q: What have you learned in the past year?
A: I’ve learned there is a lot more going right in education than makes it into the national media. I have seen STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs in high schools that rival that of universities.
I was shocked at how much better it is than I had realized. In the beginning, I kind of felt that maybe we in the Yakima Valley were doing things way better than anybody else, and I found out that wow, everybody is doing just as well as we are.More