For some people, winning seems to come naturally. Lately, Master Sgt. Ericka Tew, of the 83rd U.S. Army Reserve Readiness Training Center, has been on a hot streak, winning the 80th Training Command (The Army School System) Instructor of the Year, then the U.S. Army Reserve IOY, and most recently the Reserve category of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command IOY for 2020.
Starting in 1988, TRADOC has held its annual IOY competition to select and honor its top instructors at all levels of Army education. TRADOC selects IOY winners in seven Army categories: Reserve, National Guard, Active Duty Noncommissioned Officer, Active Duty Warrant Officer, Active Duty Officer, Civilian, and Educator of the Year.
Because of the Coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic, Gen. Paul E. Funk II, the TRADOC commanding general, hosted a virtual IOY ceremony Aug. 6. The seven winners were recognized for their “exceptional technical knowledge, communication skills, and classroom management techniques,” said Funk during the ceremony.
Considering the current challenges with COVID-19 restrictions, Tew was impressed with the hard work David Garrity, TRADOC IOY program director, put into coordinating the virtual ceremony.
“I was very pleased with the amount of time and effort Mr. Garrity put into the swag we received and the virtual atmosphere that was created to recognize all the winners,” said Tew, who serves as the 83rd USARRTC Master Leader Course manager. “There was importance placed on our accomplishments, as well as maintaining everyone’s safety, which I think was phenomenal.”
Hailing from Radcliff, Kentucky, Tew learned in early May that she was chosen over many other highly-qualified Army Reserve peers at the TRADOC level. Beginning at the 83rd USARRTC, under the 100th Training Division (Leader Development), and moving upward, she has maintained her strong work ethic, perseverance, and humility along the way.
“Oddly, I am still very much in shock,” said Tew. “The last six months have been such a whirlwind. I am so humbled at the totality of this experience.”
Winning in itself is a huge accomplishment, but Tew did not foresee the other perks that would come with winning. Tew had the opportunity to speak to members of her command about the IOY process and how they can win again next year.
“I look forward to the 83rd USARRTC holding the TRADOC IOY for the Army Reserve position for many years to come. Another perk to the win is that I’ve had the opportunity to do interviews and posters which have been placed in Reserve units across the United States, which I think is neat,” said Tew.
Little did Tew realize how much of an impact her winning would have on her personal life as well.
“When I told my oldest son that I had won, he told me he was proud of me, which was icing on the cake, and it hit me straight at my core,” said Tew. “Making my children proud and happy is something that is very near and dear to me. I live to do what's right for them and to set a good example. This has also reaffirmed my spiritual beliefs.”
When asked why being an Army Reserve instructor is important, Tew explained that the U.S. military provides the first line of defense for the nation, and the role of the Army Reserve instructor is essential to that defense.