A Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Noncommissioned Officers Academy instructor has achieved a feat that makes him one of only 14 in the U.S. Army.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Gibson was certified to wear the Army Master Instructor Badge via a video teleconference certification board Jan. 12. He becomes the first on Fort Leonard Wood to reach the highest level of instructor recognition.

Gibson, a senior small group leader with the Military Police Senior Leader Course, called obtaining the right to wear the badge a representation of the pinnacle of the Army instructor profession.

"It's a great honor achieving this recognition, regardless of being the first on Fort Leonard Wood," said Gibson, who has three-and-one-half years on the platform of his 13 years in the Army. "There were many instructors prior to me who deserve this recognition, but I was fortunate to be assigned to the NCOA during the inception of the Armywide instructor recognition program."

The Army authorized instructors to wear badges indicating their level of proficiency in 2014. There are three levels -- basic, senior and master instructor.

"Sgt. 1st Class Gibson is an accessible, enthusiastic and caring small group leader," said 1st Sgt. Richard Oxendine, MP Senior Leader Course first sergeant. "He always has the extra time for students to ensure they understand the information."

In a great instructor's classroom, each person's ideas and opinions are valued; students feel safe to express their feelings and learn to respect and listen to others, according to Oxendine when asked the traits of a good instructor. He said Gibson "displayed this in every class he instructed."

However, an instructor must want to become a master instructor, Oxendine said.

"Not only did he (Gibson) have to meet the numerous requirements as outlined in the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Regulation 600-21, he had to spend countless hours preparing for a grueling board," Oxendine explained.

The board consisted of the NCOA commandant, a member of the Institute for Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development and two of its appointed members.

"The most difficult factor in achieving the badge is staying the course," Gibson said. "Throughout the process, I had to find time to complete the additional requirements. I had to grind out a class here and a class there while maintaining my proficiency. I was able to accomplish this because of the assistance from my leaders and peers."

Command Sgt. Maj. Alma Zeladaparedes, MSCoE NCOA commandant, said Gibson achieving the highest instructor certification proves Fort Leonard Wood is a team of teams, with the NCOA leaders, MSCoE staff and U.S. Army Garrison team playing a role.

"His certification and recognition exemplifies the unified efforts of committed professionals who live and work on Fort Leonard Wood," Zeladaparedes said. "When Sgt. 1st Class Gibson returns to the field, he will bring a set of unique skills he acquired here. That is our ultimate victory."

Gibson echoed his commandant's views. "The skill set I have learned through the process will allow for future assignments where I will have the ability to continue to coach and mentor other instructors pursuing the same goals," he said.

The Tacoma, Washington, native also credited teamwork as key to him becoming a master instructor.

"This is an individual and organizational accomplishment, due to the efforts of the NCOA's thorough continued education of its instructors and putting the students first in a learner-centric environment," Gibson said.

"This would not have been possible without the expertise and guidance, throughout the years, from the MSCoE civilian staff and instructors, as well as the motivation, drive and guidance from my leaders and peers," he added.

Gibson's ascension to master instructor included fulfilling several regulatory requirements, six evaluations by INCOPD-certified evaluators, four additional approved professional development courses, redesigning a lesson plan and being recommended for and appearing before the master instructor selection board.

A noncommissioned officer education system instructor is an Army instructor who is primarily assigned to an NCOA as an educator. The Instructor Development and Recognition Program was created to bridge the gaps and addresses the selection, development, assessment and management of NCOES instructors.

The IDRP contains three levels of instructor recognition, performance outcomes for each level, an instructor development plan to achieve the levels, and an evaluation plan to assess instructors at each level. Participation in the IDRP is voluntary. A snapshot of criteria to wear each badge follows.

Army Instructor Recognition and Badge
NCOs who wear the Basic Army Instructor Badge are able to facilitate and present instruction in a variety of learning environments. Instructors closely adhere to the instruction outlined in the training support package and effectively plan, prepare and execute instruction. Among other requirements, they must successfully teach at least 80 hours of instruction as the primary and pass two-instructor evaluations (conducted at a minimum of 30 days apart). The NCOA commandant is the approving authority for the BAIB.

Army Senior Instructor Recognition and Badge
In addition to continuing to improve instructor skills, senior instructors also use student reaction and learning data to recommend areas for instructor improvement or curriculum changes. To earn the Senior Army Instructor Badge, instructors must meet all requirements for the basic badge, successfully teach at least 400 hours of instruction as the primary instructor, complete three additional instructor courses and redesign a lesson and score at least 70 percent. The MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general is the approving authority for the SAIB.

Army Master Instructor Recognition and Badge
Master instructor recognition is awarded to instructors who are able to design new lessons and make evidence-based recommendations regarding instructional strategies, methods, media and technology. They must meet all requirements for the senior instructor badge, successfully teach at least 400 hours of instruction as the primary instructor after being awarded the senior instructor badge, complete two additional instructor courses and be recommended by the Master Instructor Selection Board. The approving authority for the Master Army Instructor Badge is the MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general.