Instructor earns jewel on journey of excellence
Sgt. 1st Class Joel C. Sain, a Basic Wheel Division, Wheeled Maintenance Training Department instructor, won the fiscal 2021 Ordnance School Military Instructor of the Year Competition. He is representing the schoolhouse at the subsequent Training and Doctrine Command-level. The results of that competition will be announced this spring. (U.S. Army photo by T. Anthony Bell) (Photo Credit: Terrance Bell) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEE, Va. – Sgt. 1st Class Joel C. Sain is a steadfast goal-setter.

“It gives you purpose,” pointed out the 91B wheeled vehicle repairer from Effingham, Ill. “It keeps you pushing toward success.”

Amidst his latest ambitions was earning a place among the best instructors at the Ordnance School.

Box checked, target hit and mission complete.

Sain was announced as the Ord. School’s Military Instructor of the Year for fiscal 2021 in November and is representing the schoolhouse at the Training and Doctrine Command level of competition that just got underway.

“I really wanted to do it,” he said about his IOY journey. “It’s a higher level and larger platform. Being recognized at [the TRADOC] level would be something I’ve never done, and it’s certain to be a great experience.”

Thirty-nine-year-old Sain teaches steering, suspension and hydraulics in the 14-week 91B Wheeled Vehicle Repairer Course and has been an instructor at the Sustainment Center of Excellence for three years.

Describing himself as a no-nonsense person who is goal-oriented, Sain has been about the business of being the best version himself for some time. Earlier in his career – as an E-4 promotable – he turned around a company-level motor pool with an inspection score of 52 percent to one boasting 96 percent in roughly a year’s time.

“My goal was to be way better than what we were,” he said.

Sain landed at the schoolhouse with the same mentality. He wanted to separate himself from the typical instructor by putting forth his all and doing as much to enhance the student learning experience as humanly possible.

“For me to set myself out from the rest of my peers was a plus,” he said, “but it was about being able to teach the Soldiers – you know, giving them something outside the norm.”

For the Ordnance School competition, Sain and his fellow candidates were required to submit a video up to 25-minutes in length that demonstrated their instructional abilities; checking boxes such as presentation, interaction and coverage of course material.

A similar video was submitted for the TRADOC competition; therefore, Sain’s brand of goal-motivated exuberance will be measured against instructors from installations across the country. To some extent, there are distinct disadvantages at that level. For one, he is not familiar with his competitors, and because he is not, Sain has been a tad uneasy as he awaits the final results.

“It’s nerve-racking not knowing where I sit amongst the rest of the instructor peers,” he opined. “Putting myself in there to figure out where I’m going to be is the hardest. Am I as good as them? Or, am I better than they are? You just don’t know.”

Win or lose, Sain said there several advantages in challenging oneself in competitions such as IOY. Chief among them is that competitors are bound to improve their skills through the process.

“When I got my evaluator feedback for instructor of the year,” he said, “it was really good. It was very constructive. There were a few things I knew I needed to change. I redid my video for TRADOC, and I was able to implement the changes and make adjustments according to my teaching style.”

He acknowledged how the TRADOC feedback will allow him to continue the process of self-improvement.

“Getting the feedback at the TRADOC level will be tremendous because I’ll be able to take that and use it to improve my work and that of my peers here at WMTD,” he said.

Box checked, target hit and mission complete.

The TRADOC results will be announced this spring. Click here for the list of last year’s winners that includes Ord. School civilian instructor Kelly Bieschke.