Two Army Reserve Soldiers Take Instructing to the Mastery Level

By Sgt. 1st Class Emily Anderson | 94th Training Division - Force Sustainment | Aug. 31, 2020

CHARLESTON, W.Va. —

A teacher is the cornerstone for a student’s learning. In the Army Reserve, an instructor plays the position of teacher and works to shape a Soldier’s future. So it is only fitting that there are echelons to recognize the hard work that goes into training the next generation of combat-ready Soldiers.

Master Sgt. Raymond LaRose and Sgt. 1st Class Lynwood Owens showcased their instructing expertise and demonstrated why they deserved to earn the master instructor title when they appeared before the 1st Brigade (Quartermaster), 94th Training Division – Force Sustainment’s first virtual master instructor selection board.

“The decision to be a master instructor was a goal for me,” said LaRose, a Springfield, Massachusetts, native. “I set that goal, looked at the path ahead and knew the only way to achieve it was to give my very best each day.”

While the Basic Army Instructor Badge and the Senior Army Instructor Badge recognize the professionalism of Soldiers assigned as instructors, the Master Army Instructor Badge and the prestige that goes with the master instructor title showcase the elite who earn the right to wear this badge.

“Master instructors have qualities that include excellent technical and tactical proficiency,” said Col. John Joseph, commander of the 1st Brigade. “They have a desire to see students grow as Quartermaster professionals and ultimately leave courses as graduates who will have an enhanced professional development and gained an invaluable capability that will contribute to further growth of their military careers along with future unit mission success.”

Before instructors are even eligible to appear in front of a master instructor selection board, the Soldier must perform at least 480 hours as a primary instructor and complete numerous certification requirements set forth by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

“Master instructor selection boards are the highest of three badging boards that demonstrate the nominees’ commitment and devotion to becoming a fully knowledgeable learning professional,” Joseph said. “The Master Instructor Badge signifies an instructor can demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the fundamental principles of learning, design, and implementation.”

LaRose could not agree more that there is more to just earning the badge but a significant achievement in making a difference in a Soldier’s career.

“The most fulfilling thing about being an instructor is mentoring and developing Soldiers,” LaRose said. “When the class is over, and you get an email or message weeks, months, or even years later from a Soldier, and they tell you the impact that you’ve had on them, it’s the greatest reward you could ever have.”

“Additionally, my grandfather was an instructor with the 94th in the 1980’s, so I talked with him prior to instructing. You could tell by his stories it was something he was still passionate about,” he added. “After instructing my very first class, I knew I had made the right decision, and it immediately became a passion for me as well.”

With the manner in which LaRose’s grandfather passed the instructing torch to him, LaRose strives to put forth his best effort to instruct the future generation of service men and women. Both LaRose and Owens applied themselves and exceeded the standard to become master instructors and want to be the catalyst for other Soldiers looking to start their instructor journey. Owens shared his thoughts on what it takes to become an instructor and how it's an attainable goal.

“I want to show others that becoming an instructor and master instructor is achievable if you apply yourself and are willing to accept challenges and learn a finer process,” said Owens, the Washington, D.C., native. “I believe my duty is to help encourage others to achieve this milestone, show them that they have what it takes, and help them understand they will be coming into an area of mastery and mentorship.”

“I’ve seen Soldiers become motivated to achieve the necessary steps to attain an instructor badge, and some just gave up, not wanting to accept the challenge,” he added. “My responsibility and obligation are to encourage Soldiers, to cultivate and reinstall a commitment to instructing.”

LaRose echoed similar sentiments when highlighting what it means to be an instructor and what someone interested in the job should expect.

“Just remember it’s about the Soldiers you’re training, and not just the students, but your fellow instructors as well,” said LaRose. “You need to not only be developing them to take over for you, but you need to be learning from them as well.”

“If someone wants to be an instructor just to get promoted or enhance their career, they are doing it for the wrong reasons,” he added. “You need to be ready for some early mornings and late nights. If you give your all every day, the Soldiers will see it, feed off your motivation, and the rest will come naturally.”