NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (TRADOC News Service, May 28, 2009) In 1988, The Army Theme Plan tasked the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command to create a recognition program to distinguish the outstanding accomplishments of its instructors. From its humble beginnings in 1989, to this month in 2009, the program has grown, evolved and adapted to changing theoretical constructs and teaching approaches, in an effort to applaud and celebrate the accomplishments of the "Best and Brightest" instructors that TRADOC has to offer.

As most in the training and education community know, before this year, HQ TRADOC had not presented its recognition locally-- plaques and notes and coins were sent to the winner's respective installations for presentation. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the TRADOC Instructor of the Year program, the winners came to Newport News to receive their awards at the first Army Training and Education Development (ATED) Summit, May 5-7.

TRADOC honored these men and women, who embody the quintessential characteristics of excellence in instruction, in a way befitting the importance of their mission and obligation to our soldiers and our Nation. The TRADOC Deputy Commanding General, Lt. Gen. David Valcourt presided over the ceremony, shaking the hands of our winners and presenting the plaques, notes and coins.

Susan Brownell, the USAR Winner for Instructor of the Year, represented the 84th Training Command, Fort McCoy Wisconsin during the competition.

Brownell was unable to attend, but she was honored despite her absence. According to her Commandant, she "is a master at employing creative training techniques to enhance student learning. Her instruction is laced with a passion for teaching [and]-sincere care for student learning."

Brownell herself feels that her greatest contribution as an instructor is her development and instruction of the ATRRS Operator Course," which in her words is "urgently needed by the USAR to help reduce the number of no-shows and unfilled quotas." She feels her greatest challenge has been being an Army civilian in the world of Reserve training, and connecting with her military students.

CW3 Melissa Farmer, the Warrant Officer Category champion represented the US Army Soldier Support Institute, Adjutant General School, Fort Jackson South Carolina. Farmer now works at Fort Knox.

Her former Commandant at SSI said of her teaching ability, "I strongly endorse...CW3 Farmer... Melissa is an amazing instructor, not only known across this organization, but throughout the Adjutant General Warrant Officer course, for a teaching style that consistently exceeds standards and expertly meets student educational requirements. She is a consummate professional, whose human resource experience is relevant to teach our future leaders."

Farmer's greatest contribution as an instructor was using her own recent deployment "to bring real world situations and work them into training on a daily basis, no matter the topic."

Capt. Laura A. Gordon represented the US Army Quartermaster Center and School, Fort Lee Va. Gordon presently works at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington.

Laura's former Director of Training said about her teaching efforts, "Gordon is the epitome of what an instructor should be. She is very enthusiastic, with a natural ability to educate. [She] challenges students to think critically and provokes great participation."

Gordon finds her greatest contribution is the "passion, enthusiasm and expertise" she brings to the classroom, which "ensures that [the students] understand and learn the material not only because they are required to, but because they want to."

Fort Knox is also home to our next champion, the TRADOC Instructor of the Year NCO Winner for 2008, Master Sgt. David G. Heideman, representing the Armor School. The NCO and Officer categories had the largest number of competitors this year, and Heideman emerged victorious against 19 others in his category.

Sgt. 1st Class Charles R. Porter of the North Dakota Army National Guard is the NGB 2008 Instructor of the Year Winner, representing the 164th Regiment, RTI-ND, Devil's Lake. Porter's greatest contribution as an instructor is bringing his specialized training to soldiers who will benefit "not only in the units but also at home for their personal use." His training on Aca,!A"interior wiring systems, carpentry, and masonry construction" provide practical skills for the Guard in all facets of their lives. His greatest challenge is "interpreting his student's reactions," and tailoring his approach to better help soldiers understand the material.

The civilian category representative, George E. Sutphin, representing the US Army Engineer School, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. According to superiors, peers, and students alike, Sutphin is a "total team player and accomplished professional, whose actions and techniques set the standard for all who work with him." His greatest contribution as an instructor is "the opportunity to make a lasting impact on the future leaders of our military and letting them know that we as a nation truly appreciate their contributions and sacrifices."