President Obama: Basically, there is nothing that Jeff will not try to give his students the best education in every respect.
Scott: This year’s winner, Jeffery Charbonneau teaches chemistry, physics, and engineering at Zillah High School in Zillah, Washington.
Jeff Charbonneau: When I start out the school day, I say a very simple phrase that I think fits pretty perfectly with today: ‘welcome back to another day in paradise!’
Scott: When he first found out he was chosen, he couldn’t believe it.
Charbonneau: I think I had them repeat it about four times just to make sure I heard them correctly. It’s an overwhelming experience. We’re a very small school – only 400 students in the entire high school – and most of the teachers that are there now were my teachers when I was a student. So, I got to learn from them then, and now.
Scott: Teacher of the Year is kind of like the Miss America pageant. First, teachers must win their state’s competition, then battle it out for the big title, the national honor. The winner gets a ceremony at the White House and a year off classroom duties to travel the world to promoting the teaching profession.
Charbonneau says creating a bond with his students is the key to successful teaching.
Charbonneau: If you can make a positive relationship with a student, you can teach them darn near anything. You can take them all the way up into quantum mechanics and physics; take them into the intricacies of art and visual and performing. So it’s the relationships that come first; content comes second.
We are a nation of public schools that are continually working to improve and adapt to a changing world. And I’ll tell you what, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thank you.
Scott: Congratulations, Mr. Charbonneau.