Story by Scott A. Thornbloom on 12/12/2018The 2018 NSTC IOYs are: Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jason Potts, named Officer IOY from Officer Training Command (OTC) in Newport, Rhode Island; Senior Chief Aviation Air Traffic Controller Jacqueline Williams is the Senior Enlisted IOY, also from OTC; the Mid-Grade Enlisted IOY named is Equipment Operator 1st Class Joseph Sperry; and the Junior Enlisted IOY is Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Racquel Gunnell. Both Gunnell and Sperry are Recruit Division Commanders (RDCs) at Recruit Training Command (RTC), Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois. In a new category this year, NSTC also has named Navy Lieutenant Tyler Arp the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Officer IOY. Arp is a Naval Science Instructor (NSI) at the University of Texas in Austin.
"The Military Instructor of the Year program is a great opportunity for leadership to recognize the best that their commands have to offer when it comes to their Sailors and officers and the outstanding work that they are accomplishing," said NSTC Command Master Chief Jimmy Hailey III, who headed up the board that selected this year's top-teaching candidates.
NSTC is commanded by Rear Adm. Mike Bernacchi, headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill. Bernacchi and his staff oversee 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy. This includes OTC, RTC and NROTC.
Lt. Arp, 30, from McGregor, Texas, graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics.
A submariner, he graduated from Naval Nuclear Power Training Command (NNPTC) Submarine Officer Basic Course (SOBC) and Prototype training at Nuclear Power Training Unit Ballston Spa. He first submarine duty was onboard USS Hampton (SSN 767) in February 2013. He was named the 2015 Squadron Eleven Submarine Junior Officer of the Year for his service on Hampton.
In April 2016, the Texan returned to his home state and reported to the NROTC unit at the University of Texas in Austin for duty as a Naval Science Instructor. During 2018, Arp served as the operations officer for Career Orientation and Training for Midshipmen (CORTRAMID) West coordinating the summer training of 509 Midshipmen participating in Fleet Aviation, Surface, and Submarine training in San Diego, California. For that summer training and his accomplishments as an NROTC NSI at UT, the lieutenant was named the first NSTC NROTC Officer Instructor of the Year.
"I feel honored and humbled to be considered as one of the best instructors within the NROTC-Domain," Arp said. "I know many instructors throughout the NROTC program, and I hold them in high regard for their instructional ability and technical expertise."
As an NROTC instructor, Arp instructs and molds college students into midshipmen, Seaman-to-Admiral Officer Candidates (OCs), and Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEPs) who eventually will be commissioned as new Navy Ensigns and Marine Corps 2nd Lieutenants.
"I instruct students participating in the University of Texas Naval ROTC program in Naval Ship System I (Naval Engineering Systems) and Naval Systems II (Naval Weapon Systems). Occasionally, University of Texas students not participating in the NROTC program will take the Naval Science courses for their own general interest," Arp said.
Arp provides classroom-based instruction to students taking the Naval Science Curriculum offered by the university and required for commissioning through the Naval ROTC program. Outside of the classroom, he said NROTC instructors provide training and instruction to midshipmen, OCs and MECEP students that helps prepare them for service in the Navy and Marine Corps.
"The outside-of-the-classroom instruction includes activities such as preparing students for technical interviews for acceptance into the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program (NNPP), supporting NROTC Leadership Lab classes, coordinating and evaluating the physical development of midshipmen through the physical fitness program, and mentorship of midshipmen as they practice leadership within the Battalion Organizational Structure."
CWO4 Potts, 38, originally from Las Vegas, has been in the Navy for more than 20 years. He said he is proud to be part of a schoolhouse, command and accession training at OTC.
"I'm humbled by this accolade and greatly appreciative of my teammates' support and the
chain of command's efforts in fostering a true meritocracy."
Potts instructs the roughly 470 newly commissioned limited duty and chief warrant officers that pass through the Limited Duty Officer/Chief Warrant Officer (LDO/CWO) Academy doors each year.
"They are the driving force behind the staff's high level of performance. Their engagement and feedback demand our absolute best every single day," said Potts, who has been stationed at OTC for two years.
Potts, who attended the LDO/CWO Academy in May of 2011, said the students' experience, talent and tacit knowledge demand the utmost of instructional ability.
"Challenging, humbling and rewarding are the best words to describe an LDO/CWO Academy staff assignment. The opportunity to engage, train and learn from the fleet's top talent, both staff and student, is an absolute honor. I can't thank LDO/CWO
enterprise leadership enough for the opportunity to serve in this capacity," Potts said.
Senior Chief Williams, 43, from Indianola, Mississippi, called it a tremendous honor to have been selected as the NSTC Senior Enlisted Instructor of the Year.
"I am certain the talent level of instructors across our domain is very high, and I will continue to work hard to represent them well. It is a great privilege to have such an impact on the future leaders of the Navy, and I am humbled to be recognized for my efforts."
As an RDC, Williams instructs, molds, guides and turns civilians into new Navy officers. She has instructed at Officer Candidate School (OCS), Officer Development School (ODS) and the Direct Commission Officer Indoctrination Course (DCOIC).
"I make a genuine effort on a daily basis to lead and mentor each person I encounter. There is nothing more gratifying than to know that great leaders are ready to assume the watch," Williams said.
Williams added she and the other more than 30 RDCs handle every aspect of sailorization, militarization, leading, and mentoring.
"I train civilians and develop them into the Navy's newest war fighters by instructing officers and officer candidates in military, drill, and physical training requirements. I demonstrate proper procedures to keep clothing, equipment, barracks and new officers and officer candidates in smart, shipshape condition. I am readily available to answer any questions or concerns and provide mentorship from a senior enlisted leadership prospective," said Williams, who has been at OTC for 19 months.
EO1 Sperry, 28, from Peoria, Illinois, graduated from the Navy's only boot camp, RTC, in 2009. He has been an RDC at RTC since 2016 and said he is very proud to be named the NSTC Mid-Grade IOY.
"I'm honored to have been put up for this award and very proud to have been chosen as Mid-Grade IOY. I believe at RTC we have some of the best PO's (Petty Officers) in the Navy and to compete with them helps drive me every day," he said.
This past year, Sperry has been an instructor at the RDC "C" School at RTC, where he trained the Sailors that become the next RDCs, who train recruits and mold civilians into Sailors.
"As an RDC you transform volunteers into highly professional Sailors through screening, equipping, education, training, and attitudinal development," he said. "You instill in them and continually reinforce the highest standards of honor, courage, and commitment with a basic professional background in support of Fleet requirements."
EO1 credits Chief Electrician's Mate Joseph Lima, an RDC at RTC, who was named the NSTC Mid-Grade IOY last year, with his success.
"My mentor Chief Lima won Mid-Grade Instructor of the Year last year and we competed with each other all year. Chief Lima pushed me last year and set me up for success this year."
The equipment operator, who has been assigned to several "Sea Bee" construction battalions, said being an RDC, to him, is the most important job in the Fleet.
"Every job is important, but without civilians becoming Sailors we have no Navy. That
is why 14-16 hour days seven days a week is worth it to me. I give 100 percent to every recruit that comes to RTC because I would never want them to think I didn't care about their development as a Sailor. Developing Sailors motivates me more than anything else in the Navy. Receiving an Award like this is amazing, but if next year I get to guide someone else to this award then I'll really feel I've done my job."
EM2 Gunnell, 31, from Los Angeles, said being named the NSTC Junior Enlisted IOY is a huge honor.
"I was a little shocked at first but I could not be more humbled receiving this award at the Quarterdeck of the Navy'."
Like Sperry, Gunnell credits her leadership for the selection.
"I think I was selected because I have one of the most amazing leadership teams in the entire fleet. RTC constantly pushes you to be better, and in general a more rounded Sailor. The teamwork and overall support is unmatchable here and I truly owe my selection to them."
She called being an RDC for the Navy's newest Sailors the greatest job in the Navy.
"I know it sounds like a generic answer, but being a part of the foundation of building a Sailor could not be more rewarding. To know you've had a lasting positive impact on someone is a true privilege."
Gunnell said as an RDC she provides basic military training to Recruits, from personnel inspection, bunk and locker lay out, fire-fighting, line handling, weapons turnover and basic military skills. And she remembers very well being a recruit herself at RTC in 2008.
"Being back here means I can pay back my RDCs and instructors the amazing ethics they instilled in me to instill into our future Sailors," Gunnell said. "I want Recruits to take with them, Honor Courage and Commitment. I then want to instill in them accountability, initiative, toughness and integrity. And hopefully something that can perhaps save a life in the Fleet!"
NSTC supports the initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy. This includes RTC at Great Lakes. Ill., made up of more than 870 RDCs and instructors that oversee and train more than 39,000 recruits annually. There are NROTC units at more than 160 colleges and universities across the United States with more than 5,900 midshipmen enrolled annually who are taught, guided and molded by more than 500 Navy and Marine Corps officer and enlisted instructors. OTC annually graduates more than 2,900 students per year under the instructing guidance of 39 RDCs, Marine Corps Drill Instructors and technical trainers. NSTC also oversees Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.
For more information about NSTC, visit http://www.netc.navy.mil/nstc/ or visit the NSTC Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/NavalServiceTraining/.