FORT KNOX, Ky. - The 80th Training Command's 2017 Instructor of the Year Competition brought out a competitive edge in its candidates. Twenty-five Army Reserve instructors from across the command's three training divisions and the 4960th Multifunctional Training Brigade contended for the top prize here, Oct. 20-22, 2017.
Sgt. 1st Class Martin Rhoades, an instructor with the 94th Training Division, beat out the competition in the Noncommissioned Officer category, while Mr. Troy Winters, an instructor for the 83rd Army Reserve Readiness Training Center, 100th Training Division, earned the top civilian spot. Lt. Col. Kevin Miller, an instructor with the 100th TD, took the IOY title in the officer category.
Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Darlington, senior enlisted leader for the 80th TC, explained that the intent for the competition was to bring the finest instructors together and act as a readiness multiplier.
"At this annual event, we had our units collectively bring together our very best instructors who not only showcased their individual talents in the classroom setting but also in a readiness-enhancing event," said Darlington.
Preparation is an essential component to maintaining the U.S. Army Reserve's effectiveness as a ready and capable fighting force, and instructors throughout the 80th ensure that every Soldier receives the highest quality training.
He said that instructors are an integral part of the 80th TC's mission in developing trained, ready, and capable Soldiers. They are critical in the development of Soldiers' military occupational specialties, advanced training and leadership skills.
Last year's IOY officer winner at the 80th TC and the Training and Doctrine Command, Lt. Col. Jason Nagel agreed with Darlington on why Army Reserve instructors are essential.
"If we don't have top notch instructors, then who's going to train and mentor our future Soldiers?" said Nagel. "The foundation of our training is based on the effectiveness and success of our quality instructors."
In order to nominate instructors to compete at the 80th level, the divisions' battalions and brigades followed specific nomination criteria. Recommendations by the battalions' and brigades' commanders and command sergeants major were included in these nominations.
Once these instructors make it to the 80th level, they sharpen and refine their skills and techniques to gear up for the two-day event. Brigade command sergeants major and previous 80th IOY winners make up the board judging the competition, grading candidates on their ability to teach a 20-minute class involving numerous tasks and techniques, such as eye contact, effective communication and classroom management.
Competitors not only had the chance to show off their skills, but they also had the opportunity to sit in on other instructors' courses and learn from one another, serving as mock students in the classrooms.
Sgt. Robyn Wagner, an instructor with the 94th Training Division and one of the candidates, said that she benefited from competing in this year's event and hopes to return next year to compete again.
"I picked up some great practices from other instructors here," said Wagner. "What I learned from this event will improve my unit's readiness. I'm going to ensure that we will incorporate these new ideas into our instructional platforms."
This year's NCO winner said he benefited from the experience as well.
"I thought this was a very good event. I really enjoyed it," said Rhoades. "I look forward to getting back to my 92F10 (petroleum supply specialist) class and getting back to teaching so I can pass on what I learned here."
Although three winners emerged, Darlington said all competitors benefited from acquiring new teaching techniques and practices from each other to add to their own skill sets. Returning to their units, he said they now have additional experiences they can use to enhance training future Soldiers.
"Each one of you can take something back to your units from this event and be even better than you were before," said Darlington, addressing everyone at a final assembly. "This is a win for everyone here."
In addition to improving their classrooms, instructors should also cultivate a spirit of excellence, Darlington said. He explained that excellence in the small things leads to excellence in the big things.
"If you seek to make a difference every day, that reach will multiply when your Soldiers reach out to others," said Darlington.