FORT LEE, Va. – The Judge Advocate General Legal Center and School in Charlottesville has selected an Army staff sergeant here as its 2021 Instructor of the Year.
Last week’s announcement of the award included words of congratulations from Command Sgt. Maj. Joshua L. Quinton, the school’s Noncommissioned Officer Academy commandant, who also spoke on behalf of Brig. Gen. Alison C. Martin, commandant.
Staff Sgt. Tarik Ayoola summed up the recognition as “humbling.” Getting the opportunity to compete alone is a “great professional honor,” he observed, because it symbolizes the high level of trust and confidence leaders have in the individual representing their organization.
“Winning takes it to another level,” Ayoola said. “It’s a reward from leaders who are basically saying, ‘we recognize your hard work and professionalism.’”
Vying for an IOY title requires glowing recommendations from unit leaders and high marks from faculty directors during classroom inspections. Competing noncoms must demonstrate more than mastery of the material they are teaching but also interpersonal skills to “connect with and inspire” the minds of those who will support tomorrow’s Army.
Ayoola reflected on the latter, saying, “NCO’s are here to show Soldiers what right looks like and what they should aspire to be. One of my leadership philosophies is to do what I expect my Soldiers to do. Winning this award gives me credibility when motivating my Soldiers to step up and volunteer for demanding assignments or tasks.”
To state the obvious, an IOY win does not look shabby in an NCO’s personnel file either. Ayoola noted how hard-stripe influencers of his 10-year career taught him to be competitive and distinguishable from peers. Any Soldier dead-set on climbing the ranks recognizes that as a winning factor.
“I already have my sights set on earning the senior instructor badge,” he said. “I’m also working on completing my Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies.”
Ayoola expressed thanks to the “trusting Soldiers who allow him to lead and develop them;” the team at the Paralegal Specialist Training Center that helps mentor him; the cadre at his assigned unit, J Company, 262nd Quartermaster Battalion; and his family for steadfast love and support.
In response to the win, the 262nd QM Bn., command team – Lt. Col. Daniel Trost and Command Sgt. Maj. Chesa Freeman – and the J Co. command team – Capt. Julia Flores and 1st Sgt. Odane Morgan endorsed the following message.
“We congratulate SSG Ayoola for being selected as the 2021 27D Instructor of the Year. We are happy his commitment to excellence in teaching our future military paralegals was recognized. SSG Ayoola’s students consistently speak of his professionalism, his support and mentorship. We also congratulate his wife and children, as we know it takes their support to enable him to lead from the front. CONGRATULATIONS!”
Ayoola hails from Williamston, North Carolina. He has been serving as an advanced individual training Paralegal Specialist Course instructor since September 2020. Upon departure from Fort Lee, he said he is hoping for an assignment as a Brigade Combat Team senior legal NCO or work in National Security Law for a Special Operations Forces unit.