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First La. Guardsmen awarded new instructor badge

By Spc. Noshoba Davis, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office

PINEVILLE, La. – The Louisiana Army National Guard’s 199th Leadership Regiment presented 14 instructors with the Basic Army Instructor Badge during a ceremony at Camp Beauregard in Pineville, Nov. 19.

The badge was created in 2013 as part of the Noncommissioned Officer Education System Instructor Development and Recognition Program, which is designed to select, train, and manage the best instructors possible.

“They say the NCO is the backbone of the Army and that is a very true statement. You have been given the rare opportunity to train those NCOs that currently are, or will become, a part of that backbone,” said Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, adjutant general of the LANG. “Congratulations to the instructors that earned the instructor’s badge. It is no small task, everything you have to go through to receive this honor.”

This is the first time LANG instructors have receive the BAIB.

“The instructors truly are top notch and I’m proud to be the commandant of the Academy that has such great instructors,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Clifford Ockman, commandant of the NCO Academy. “This shows that the program here at Camp Cook strives for excellence and to achieve a higher level of instruction.”

The instructors teach the Basic Leader Course, formerly known as the Warrior Leader Course, at Camp Cook, in Ball. BLC is designed to prepare Soldiers to lead small groups and focuses on how to lead drill and ceremony, land navigation, to be confident in their leadership abilities and more during the course.

“I’m very passionate about training and developing individuals. It’s more than just showing up for a paycheck, anyone can show up for a paycheck,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Gorum, an Alexandria native and small group leader for the past 10 years. “The reward for me is seeing a Soldier transition and seeing the confidence in them, knowing I had a personal hand in developing that confidence.”

The Louisiana National Guard NCO Academy graduated its first class in 1988. It provides BLC training for Soldiers from the active Army, Army Reserves and National Guard from around the country. The academy has trained more than 3,600 Soldiers since the new instructor recognition program was created.

“An instructor position at the academy is considered an earned position, the instructors teach 12 classes a year at 23 days a class,” said Ockman. “This badge gives them the recognition that they have worked hard for, and their dedication in earning the badge speaks volumes of their professionalism and dedication to these future NCOs.”

To earn the badge, the instructors were required to teach 80 hours as a primary instructor. They were evaluated twice in several different areas such as classroom environment, how well they held Soldiers’ attention, presentation style and more.

“We give the instructors a copy of the evaluation and the rubric so they can prepare for their next evaluation,” said Natasha McZeal, a BLC senior small group leader and one of the evaluators. “They like to strive for excellence, which means they go above and beyond what is expected. They study the rubrics and see what they can improve on so we will see higher scores on their second evaluations.”

“It’s a very rewarding job, especially when you see the Soldiers come in and they do well,” said Staff Sgt. Nicole Bourgeois, an Alexandria native and BLC small group leader, who was awarded the badge.

The recipients range from six-and-half months to 10 years of experience as instructors. One of the challenges that the instructors face is adjusting to changes to the course, and the different types of Soldiers that come through the academy over time.

“I have to be an adaptive leader. If I don’t adapt, then my Soldiers won’t adapt,” said Gorum. “If they see that I can change, it gives them a confidence that they can change and grasp what’s being taught.”

Receiving the badge were Staff Sgt. Rory K. Briley, of Alexandria; Staff Sgt. Joshua A. Brister, of Dry Prong; Staff Sgt. Jonathan P. Brown, of Lafayette; Staff Sgt. Derrald L. Lemons, of Bossier City; Staff Sgt. Jeremy J. Coutee, of Alexandria; Staff Sgt. David P. Speed, of Satsuma, Alabama; Staff Sgt. Earnest E. Lachney, of Sterlington; Staff Sgt. Nicole L. Bourgeois, of Alexandria; Staff Sgt. Jonathan A. Gorum, of Alexandria; Staff Sgt. Austin R. McNeely, of Alexandria; Staff Sgt. Timothy E. Stamper, of West Monroe; Staff Sgt. Mark A. Swinnen, of Alexandria; Staff Sgt. Clinton A. White, of Shreveport; Staff Sgt. Tony B. Vincent, of Alexandria.

The instructors now have the opportunity to work towards earning the Senior and Master Army Instructor Badges.

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