By Kari Travis | Echo
Jeff Charbonneau grew up believing he could achieve anything, and that he could inspire confidence in others. Now, this science teacher from Washington State is named the National Teacher of the Year-and is currently touring the U.S. as a motivational speaker.
His next stop is Taylor's campus, where he will present a speech on Thursday, March 6, about the importance of learning, leadership and self-confidence.
"I greet my students in class every day by saying, 'Welcome back to another day in paradise,'" Charbonneau said. "The reality is that paradise must be built, maintained and improved each day. It removes the words 'can't,' 'too hard' and 'impossible' from our vocabulary."
The result of that idea within the classroom is what helped transform Charbonneau into a nationally recognized educator and speaker. Charbonneau's passion for learning itself is what prompted members of Taylor's education department to invite him for a campus visit.
Cindy Tyner, Taylor education department chair, met Charbonneau at the Kappa Delta Pi honors society Convocation in Dallas, where she and her education students asked if he would come and share his story at Taylor. Tyner's goal in coordinating the event was to inspire students from every department of the university.
"This isn't just for educators," Tyner said. "He will be able to share a lot with teachers, but he is much more than that. He is a true leader."
Charbonneau, a high school teacher in chemistry, physics, engineering and architecture from Zillah, Wash., was selected as National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers on April 22, 2013, and was honored by President Obama at a White House Ceremony the next day.Council of Chief State School Officers.
That commitment is what students like Christina Pena, a senior elementary education major, are looking to as an example of leadership both in, and out, of the classroom.
Charbonneau will speak on Thursday, March 6, at 7 p.m. in Rediger. Admission is free to students and the public.