By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterApril 17, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 17, 2014) -- For some people, becoming an instructor is more about boosting their resume and getting a distinguished badge.
Some choose the path to make better Soldiers and to ensure the Army will always be strong.
CW4 Malachi Simmons, an academic facilitator and instructor at the Warrant Officer Career College, said the latter is why he decided to leave home behind to join a close-knit group of cadre on the installation.
"I wanted to help develop future warrant officers. I believe that the candidates are my replacements, so I have to ensure that my replacements will be good enough to replace me," he said. "I feel like I am giving back to the Army, the warrant officer corps and to all the individuals who have helped me in the past."
Simmons teaches a set of classes at Kliev Hall that focuses on operations of the Army, joint interagency operations and multinational operations.
"My daily duties include giving classroom instructions to warrant officer candidates and senior warrant officers," he said. "Most of my classes range from two hours to four hours."
He instructs four to nine lessons for each class of students, where he instructs the class, administers tests, writes lesson plans and makes sure everything he teaches is up to date.
"It is so important to make sure what I am teaching is credible because you don't want to teach incorrect information. Army doctrine changes all the time, and so is the Army in general, so, as an instructor, it is my duty to make sure that I stay abreast with those standards and regulations," he said.
The college uses the adult learning module, which allows instructors to have many tools to use at their discretion to teach the students. They use videos, hands-on activities, personal experiences, discussions, stories, along with traditional learning tools such as textbooks and slide presentations, said Simmons.
"After each lesson, I try to develop it. I ask questions and try to see how they can apply what they just learned to their professional career," he said. "I try to paint a picture in their minds by relating a personal story. That way, when it comes to taking a test, they can remember it more clearly, and sometimes more practically."
To become an instructor, Soldiers must complete the Army basic instructor course and a faculty development Phase 1 course. Before instructors are allowed to teach they instruct three courses, two to their peers and one to the commandant to receive a critique and to ensure they are ready to step behind the podium, he said.
"What makes my job great is that I have a great command here, from the commandant to the other instructors and the training, advising and counseling officers. Command is really approachable and they allow us to do our job successfully," he said, adding that the WOCC command officers make themselves available if instructors ever need them.
Simmons has held his position since August and, so far, he said that it is what he expected, with a few surprises here and there.
"I was always in the motor pool as a ground maintenance technician. I was turning wrenches and covered in one type of fluid or another, so this is really different for me. But I love it," he said. "Everyone has to do their part, and now this is my part.
"The main idea as warrant officer instructors is we have to make sure that our people are sound and can do their job out in the field," he continued. "Commanders need us for our expertise; they need us for guidance and advice. That is why my job is so important, to pour the foundation for those future leaders."
Simmons said he never gets tired of seeing the warrant officer candidates achieve success.
"When I see a candidate's (progression to graduation) and how they overcame something and persevered (it) is rewarding to see," he said. "I love watching them develop and see the pride on their faces when they graduate."
One student holds a unique place in his mind, and is a daily reminder why he signed up to be an Army instructor.
"(I once had a student) tell me that he was being recycled because he failed land navigation," Simmons began. "After talking to him for a minute, I realized that his pace count was off. So, we went outside and I helped him get an accurate count.
"About a month later, I saw him in the post exchange and he hugged me and said thank you. He was now able to graduate because of my help," he continued. "That really made my day. And what is great is I still see the student every now and then (because he is still stationed here)."
Simmons remarked that although it can be stressful to ensure that all of his students are absorbing the information and that what he teaches is on the leading edge of technology and protocol, he said the benefits of watching the fresh warrant officers pin on their rank for the first time greatly outweighs anything else.