News: Turek tops at teaching battlefield concepts
Story by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Vought
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - He imparts infantry knowledge with ease and enthusiasm to tentative students better than anyone west of the Mississippi.
That's the consensus about Staff Sgt. Brett A. Turek, who was named West Coast School of Infantry Instructor of the Year in September.
Turek, a 16-year Marine Corps veteran, then competed against the East Coast SOI Instructor of the Year and is now the second-best infantry instructor in the Corps.
Since coming to teach at the Advanced Infantry Training Platoon Sergeants Course in July 2001, Turek has made his mark in the School of Infantry's instructor community.
For Turek, instructing Marines isn't a job but a lifestyle. Prior to arriving at SOI in September 2000, he built his career by educating Marines.
"Before the Marine Corps even added SOI instructor to the B-billet list, I believed and still believe I have the greatest job in the Marine Corps," said Turek, one of eight children hailing from a family in Hinsdale, Ill.
He said his selection "just reinforces how important the job at SOI is, and gives that much more substance to the creed 'every Marine a rifleman.'"
The School of Infantry is broken into three entities: Infantry Training Battalion, Marine Combat Training Battalion and Advanced Infantry Training Company.
After nominating the top instructor from each SOI section, a board of sergeants major and senior instructors critiqued two classes conducted by each instructor. The process takes three to four months, according to 1st Sgt. K.W. Crutcher, AIT first sergeant.
On top of observing the instructors in class, the board held a mock meritorious promotion board, which consisted of a uniform inspection, tests of Marine Corps knowledge, SOI familiarity and other academic and occupational tests.
The board looks for platform presence, ability to disseminate knowledge, ability to learn and subject-matter expertise.
"My philosophy is that anyone can give a period of instruction, but few can truly teach," said Turek.
Turek is a whiz on subject matter, Crutcher said.
"He has the ability to break things down so anybody can understand it," he said. "He goes from A to Z and gets everything in between.
"On top of just learning and teaching the bare minimum material, Turek researches and teaches much more."
"Most instructors I've had in the past read straight off the Power Point, but he doesn't need to read the material," said Sgt. Erick L. Jones, an AIT student. "He knows what's going on."
In a little more than a year at AIT Company, Turek has logged nearly 500 hours of instruction, plus numerous hours outside the classroom.
In the classroom, humor is Turek's ally.
"He explains things common-sense, with a touch of humor and definitely not dry," said Sgt. Matt J. Harden, an AIT student. "He'll go over a topic until everyone gets it."
"I like to make the classroom fun and relaxed," Turek said.
Sgt. Bill Cramer, an AIT student, succinctly summed up Turek's teaching style as "down and dirty, to the point."
Any instructor can read off a video screen, but it takes a true teacher to mentally lift the students out of their seats and place them in the battlefield.
"He paints a mental picture and relates it to things on the battlefield," said Staff Sgt. Camilo Gutierrez Jr., another AIT student.
No doubt part of Turek's success stems from his love for what he does.
"I'm glad of the billet I have now because it gives me the chance to spread the knowledge and experience I have gained through my time in the Marine Corps," Turek said. "I have so much fun passing the knowledge that I have gained to others.
"If you're not having fun in what you're doing then why do it?"