News: Luncheon celebrates teaching excellence
Story by Lance Cpl. Paul Peterson
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - The Marine Corps relies upon the experiences and expertise of its instructors to pass on their vital knowledge to each successive generation of Marines. In recognition of their accomplishments in that endeavor, instructors from several of the Marine Corps’ schools on the East Coast gathered in the ballroom of Jacksonville’s USO for the annual Instructor of the Year Awards Luncheon, April 19.
Supported by the efforts of Mainstreet, a civic organization made up of 98 businesses from the Jacksonville and Wilmington areas that regularly organizes events to honor service members, 12 of the Marine Corps’ Instructor of the Year awardees were singled out for their teaching excellence and dined at the USO’s head table.
“You have to realize how important it is, no matter how busy we get, to take time out of our schedules and make sure that the individuals that deserve that recognition are getting it because someday, they may not be here,” said John Reed, the executive director of Mainstreet. “I know that a lot more Marines and sailors might not have come home if wasn’t for their training.”
The instructors came from schools such as combat service support and infantry training, as well as field medical training and special operations. Among those honored were Gunnery Sgt. Collen M. Stewart, Staff Sgt. Aundrea M. English, Staff Sgt. Dustin S. Sammons, Gunnery Sgt. Eric T. Jackson Sr., Cpl. Jeremiah C. Reilly, Petty Officer 1st Class Stanley D. Ponder, Staff Sgt. Corbin L. Choquette, Staff Sgt. Phillip B. Castro, Staff Sgt. Joshua R. Litton, Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth L. Reynolds, Staff Sgt. Joseph L. Bivins and Staff Sgt. James A White.
“Honor, courage and commitment are not strange terms or ideas to people in this room,” said Col. James F. Glynn, commanding officer for the Special Operations School, Marine Corps Special Operations Command, and the guest speaker for the event. “They’re part of our ethos and core values. We seek leaders and we emphasize leadership. It’s the thing we reward the most in Marine and sailors.”
Great instructors must embody the traits they seek to instill in their students, said Glynn. The students that have the privilege to lead will turn to their example as a measure for their own behavior and expectations.
“Whether or not you recognize it, you are what right looks like to that student,” said Glynn. “The reason that you are here today is because you recognized a standard and held yourself accountable to it. That is recognized not only by those that chose to nominate you for this award but by those with whom you work and those with whom you lead.”
Glynn reminded the crowd that each one of them had an instructor at some point in their lives who helped them get to where they are today. As Marines and sailors, he said, there is always the call to teach and to lead.
Each instructor competed with their professional peers to win their respective Instructor of the Year awards, while continuing to support the operational goals of their individual schools. Shortly after the ceremony, the room cleared and the instructors headed back to their respective duties, a reminder that their responsibilities remained with their students.
“At the moment, these [service members] happened to be thrust into a role as an instructor, where it’s what they do and who they are regarded as,” said Glynn. “Your impact is likely more lasting than you or I know.”