FORT EUSTIS, Va. — U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command recognized the best instructors in the Army during a ceremony in the Morelli Auditorium here, May 30.
During the ceremony, Gen. David Perkins, commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, known as TRADOC, emphasized that the instructor position is a critical job in the Army. In fact, developing leaders is the top priority for Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno, and a major responsibility for TRADOC.
“TRADOC searches out the best examples in the Army to put in front of our burgeoning leaders — to show Soldiers what right looks like, and to show that one day they can be just as professional and dedicated,” Perkins said.
From more than 11,585 military and civilian instructors in TRADOC alone, plus the large cadre of National Guard and Reserve instructors, the competition was narrowed to a pool of 73, who teach the total force of active duty, National Guard, Reserve and Civilians.
Candidates were judged on tactical and technical knowledge, communication skills and classroom management. Their contributions to training and education, including curriculum development, research and article publication were also considered.
Seven winners were selected, and recognized during the TRADOC Commanders Conference by TRADOC’s commanding general and senior leaders from throughout the command.
Each recipient received an Instructor of the Year plaque, TRADOC certificate of achievement, TRADOC coin and four-star note from Perkins.
“To be selected as an instructor means that a lot of confidence and responsibility is placed in these individuals, and the seven instructors that are here today are the best of the best,” Perkins said. “The fact they are representing the best in a very large organization, that is part of a very large Army, speaks volumes about their professionalism.”
Educator of the Year
Scott Porter is an Army civilian and assistant professor at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He is recognized for his ability to engage students using techniques to facilitate dialogue and for going to any length to help — inside or outside the classroom.
Brig. Gen. Christopher Hughes, the deputy commanding general for Leadership, Development and Education at Fort Leavenworth, accepted the award on Porter’s behalf.
“Scott is an inspirational and creative educator,” Hughes said. “He is wildly popular with his students and passionate about helping our young men and women.”
Officer Instructor of the Year
Capt. Michael McCauley is a Fire Support instructor at the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He was commended by the competition’s panel members for turning traditional lectures into dynamic, hands-on lessons that maximize student participation.
“I’m accepting this award on behalf of my team,” McCauley said. “I have the privilege to work alongside truly great Army and Marine instructors.
“Being an instructor is so rewarding because it takes you through the whole range of the human experience. Many of our Soldiers are fresh out of college, so we develop them through PT (physical training), the classroom, team building and field events.”
Non-commissioned Officer Instructor of the Year
Staff Sgt. Sony Merus is a senior training and education specialist at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center’s Non-commissioned Officer Academy at Fort Huachuca. He often asks his students to define their understanding of the subject matter and links previous lessons to future training.
“Getting this award and being here today is surreal,” Merus said. “This is humbling; my students are the reason that I am here today, and they challenge me to get better each day.”
Reserve Instructor of the Year
Master Sgt. Jason Kirk is a senior instructor and writer with the 83rd U.S. Army Reserve Readiness Training Center at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He is a retention NCO and teaches the 79V Senior Leader and Army Reserve Career Counselor Courses. Like many of the other top instructors, Kirk was recognized for his ability to lead meaningful dialogue with his students, often pulling from his own experiences.
Civilian Instructor of the Year
Michael Armstead is an instructor at the Adjutant General School, at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He served 30 years in the Army and retired as the school’s regimental command sergeant major. He is known for teaching with enthusiasm and passion.
“I absolutely love being an instructor,” Armstead said. “It gives me the opportunity to give back to the organization (TRADOC) that grew me and taught me how to be a Soldier. To be recognized for doing a job that I love is amazing.”
Warrant Officer Instructor of the Year
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Juan Jusino is an instructor with the Basic Officer Training Division at the AG School at Fort Jackson.
Jusino was actually a student of Armstead’s at the school and now works alongside him.
“This is the most humbling day I’ve ever had,” Jusino said. “Armstead was my instructor before, and it’s cool to be able to share this experience with such a great educator.”
For Armstead, the experience was equally rewarding.
“Jusino was the best type of student you could want — inquisitive, engaged,” Armstead said. “I’m not surprised that he is here being recognized for his dedication. I think he is a shining example of the professional warrant officer.”
National Guard Instructor of the Year
Sgt. 1st Class Paul Deegan, the 2013 National Guard Instructor of the Year, is an instructor in the North Dakota Army National Guard, Headquarters, 164th Regiment at Devil’s Lake, North Dakota. Deegan is a combat engineer, with experience training the Iraqi Army. He uses operational videos and training aids to draw in his class and stress the importance of the topic.
TRADOC has been recognizing the Army’s “best of the best” instructors since 1989.