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National Teacher of the Year Named to Central Washington University Board of Trustees

Governor Jay Inslee has appointed Jeff Charbonneau, a CWU alumnus, longtime STEM educator and principal of Zillah Middle School to the Central Washington University Board of Trustees. His term ends in Sept. 2027, when he may be appointed to an additional term.

Charbonneau graduated CWU in 2000 with a BS biology education; he also earned his science-teaching certificate (2004), Master Teaching degree (2005), Career and Technical Education Certificate in STEM (2013), and in 2017 his principal/administrator certification—all at Central. In 2013 he was named the National Teacher of the Year, while working as a high school science teacher in his hometown of Zillah. Charbonneau said he looked forward to putting to work for Central his experience as a STEM teacher and working with first-generation students.

“Education offers unique and life-changing opportunities to Washington families,” said Charbonneau. “Central’s impact on student success, accessibility for our diverse population, and immense value Central grads bring to the state’s workforce is what drives me.”

Charbonneau’s CWU training prepared him for the biggest honor of his 20-year career: the National Teacher of the Year award(link is external), presented by then-President Barack Obama. The same year, he won the Washington State Teacher of the Year honors and received CWU’s Alumni of the Year award. He also received the 2015 Global Teacher Prize, awarded to the top 50 teachers around the world. 

The longtime STEM educator has been the principal of Zillah Middle School since 2018 and taught science at Zillah High School for 17 years. Charbonneau also has worked as an assistant principal in the Zillah School District, a STEM coordinator for Educational Service District 105, and an adjunct professor at Yakima Valley College and CWU.

Charbonneau serves on the national legislative committee for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and has been a member of the Washington Student Achievement Council since 2013.

CWU President Jim Wohlpart said Charbonneau was a perfect choice for the board because of his affiliation with the university.

“Jeff Charbonneau has an extensive history with CWU, as a student, educator, and educational partner,” Wohlpart said. “He’ll be a welcome addition to the board in the years to come as we address Central’s new vision, mission, and goals for the future.”

Media contact: Dawn Alford, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1484,

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