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CWU Commencement

CWU Commencement Speakers

Jeff Charbonneau, a CWU alumnus and an Eastern Washington science teacher was named national Teacher of the Year for 2013.

Charbonneau, from Zillah High in the Yakima Valley, is the first winner from Washington State since 2007, and he is spending a year traveling as an ambassador for the teaching profession.

Charbonneau, the 63rd National Teacher of the Year, was recognized along with all 2013 State Teachers of the Year by President Obama in a ceremony at the White House.

Charbonneau is a 2000 graduate in biology education, who also received his biology teaching certificate that same year. He earned his broad area science teaching certificate in 2004 and in 2005, he earned his master’s degree, all from CWU.

In addition, Charbonneau teaches online professional teacher certification courses and facilities the online National Board Teacher Certification candidate program through the CWU Office of Continuing Education. He also is a teacher in CWU's Cornerstone program, which allows his high school physics students to earn college credit.

His accomplishments during the past 12 years at Zillah High School include:

  • Initiation in 2008 of the Zillah Robot Challenge, a robotics competition that provides students with practical, hands-on applications of their math and science learning. Jeff has arranged for more than 80 robot kits to be loaned at no cost to public, private, and alternative high schools and middle schools throughout the state, allowing more than 850 students and 65 teachers from 43 different schools to expand their STEM offerings through the nine competitions that the program has hosted so far.
  • Obtaining articulation agreements that allow his students to obtain college credits in all of his high school science classes. Since the fall of 2010, Zillah’s students have been able to earn 10 college credits in physics through an agreement with Central Washington University. Since the fall of 2011, Zillah students have also been able to receive 3 college credits in engineering and 6 in architecture through Yakima Valley Community College. And last fall, he became the first high school instructor in the state to offer 5 credits in chemistry through Eastern Washington University.  As a result, all of Jeff's classes are available for college credits.
  • Co-founding in 2002 of the Leopard Pathfinders, a hiking, backpacking, and ecology program that has taken students on single-day to two-week excursions of Yellowstone National Park, the Beartooth Mountains, and the Pacific Crest Trail from Chinook Pass to White Pass.
  • A period as Zillah's ASB advisor during 2007-2011 in which he helped the 400-member student body annually raise more than $1,200 to benefit Special Olympics and earn multiple distinctions as "Largest Fundraising School" in the Yakima County Sheriff Department's Polar Bear Challenge.


Student Speakers

First Ellensburg commencement — Ms. Mary Johnson

Second Ellensburg commencement — Mr. Steven Pray

Kent commencement — Ms. Gabrielle Mathiesen