The list of acronyms Jeff Charbonneau threw up on the screen were extremely familiar to the teaching staff of the Finley School District.
"CCSS" for Common Core State Standards, "NGSS" for Next Generation Science Standards, "TPEP" for Teacher/Principal Evaluation Project.
Charbonneau, this year's National Teacher of the Year and a science teacher at Zillah High School, also listed two other acronyms as placeholders for future efforts by state lawmakers and activists wanting to improve a broken education system.
But the system isn't broken, he said.
"I don't think we're doing as bad of a job as people say we do," Charbonneau said. "But we're really, really bad at telling people about what we do."
Finley teachers met and heard from Charbonneau and others in the district Wednesday as part of a staff training event as the fall semester comes to an end.
District administrators said they wanted to energize teachers and show they are appreciated despite all the pressure they're under from new education standards and scrutiny.
Superintendent Lance Hahn said he's heard Charbonneau speak a few times and wanted to bring him to the district for a visit.
Charbonneau has spoken in front of crowds of thousands and around the world in his role as a nationally recognized educator.
River View High School Principal Bryan Long taught with him in Zillah, a small rural district, similar in some ways to Finley, and asked him to speak with the district's teachers.
"He is one of us," Hahn said.
Charbonneau worked a lot of comic relief into his comments. People's eyes glaze over when they find out he teaches chemistry, physics and engineering, he said. And his dedication to making education the best it can be? His daughter.
"I have to make sure every single kid in the state is educated because she is going to marry one of them," he said.
But he emphasized that education is really about turning kids into problem solvers and making them part of society. It's a teacher's job to instill in their students confidence, courage and self-sufficiency. And he and others have tried to accomplish that through the Zillah Robot Challenge and backpacking and hiking trips.
Criticism of education and how it needs to be reformed is constant, and there are plenty of hurdles facing districts like Finley, where almost 70 percent of students are from low-income families, Charbonneau said.
But as long as teachers remember their students won't be students forever, teachers can ensure those kids go on to do great things and serve the community.
Tyler Hogg, a senior language arts teacher at River View, said he was moved by Charbonneau's comments. Hogg is in his second year of teaching and acknowledged there is a lot of pressure on teachers. However, he said he's already seeing some of his students who previously showed little interest in education make plans for the future.
"We are giving kids hope," he said. "We are showing them they can succeed and they can become what they want to be."
The past few months of speaking and traveling have been busy for Charbonneau and have prevented him from teaching this academic year. He's said he's enjoyed learning about the ins and outs of education policy, though, and it's made him more eager to get back to the classroom.
"I keep calling my superintendent and keep telling him we have to do this and this and this," Charbonneau said.
-- Ty Beaver: 582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @_tybeaver; Google+: +TyBeaverTCHerald