NCOL CoE holds inaugural Facilitator of the Year competition

Staff Sgt. Johnnie Ayala from the Fort Dix, New Jersey NCOA, leads a 20 minute facilitation during the inaugural NCOL CoE Facilitator of the Year Competition. Ayala was one of nine competitors from across the Army’s 33 NCO Academies chosen to compete. (Photo by Spc. James Seals)

By David Crozier, Command Communications

Across the Army’s 33 NCO Academies facilitators, formerly known as instructors, are leading military education classes for Soldiers preparing to become noncommissioned officers and master sergeants. During the weekend of October 13-14, the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence held a competition to see who the best was at facilitating the Basic Leader Course and the Master leader Course.

“Each of these competitors were selected to represent their academy,” Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Simmons, director of NCO Professional Development and Education said. “They volunteered to be here.”

Simmons explained the competitors were selected to represent their academy through an arduous process that began at their academy and included a digital board conducted by members of the Center of Excellence.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael V. Davis, a BLC Senior Facilitator with the Joint Base Lewis-McChord NCOA, performs the 3RM Deadlift that will be in the new Army Combat Fitness Test. Davis was one of nine competitors in the inaugural NCOL CoE Facilitator of the Year Competition. (Photo b y Spc. James Seals)

Once selected, the competitors were tested over the two-day event on their physical fitness, their facilitation of a 20 minutes class using the Experiential Leaning Model, and their ability to answer a 5-essay test. A total of nine Soldiers competed in the inaugural event: Staff Sgts. Johnnie Ayala from the Fort Dix, New Jersey NCOA; Vanessa R. Carillo from the 7th Army NCOA in Germany; Jeremy S. Dodge from the Fort Indiantown Gap NCOA in Pennsylvania; Jimmee S. Laster from the Fort Bragg NCOA in North Carolina; Sgts. 1st Class Andre Mangual from the Fort Dix NCOA; Michael V. Davis from Joint Base Lewis-McChord NCOA in Washington; Master Sgts. Colbie T. Jackson from JBLM NCOA; Aaron L. Griffing from Fort Bragg NCOA; and Larry D. Foreman from Fort Dix NCOA.

The winners were announced during ceremonies October 15 at the NCOL CoE. Facilitator of the Year for the Basic Leader Course is Staff Sgt. Vanessa R. Carrillo. Facilitator of the Year for the Basic Leader Course Senior Facilitators is Sgt. 1st Class Andre Mangual. The Facilitator of the Year for the Master Leader Course is Master Sgt. Larry D. Foreman.

“It was good, very different,” said Carillo who explained that her leadership asked her to compete. “I liked that everything was a mystery and I liked that they incorporated the physical events as well.”

Carillo said she enjoys being a facilitator and always puts 100 percent into everything she does, so she takes great satisfaction in being able to compete and win.

Staff Sgt. Vanessa R. Carrillo answers questions during the board appearance portion of the NCOL CoE Facilitator of the Year Competition. (Photo by Spc. James Seals)

“For me it gives me a lot of pride, not only for being a Soldier, but being a part of my academy and being a facilitator,” she said.

For Mangual, he wanted to do something different and pave the way for others to come to the competition. He also enjoyed the not knowing what to expect.

“Not being able to prepare yourself for the competition, I kind of like it in the sense of you just had to go with it,” he said adding that similarly, the same could be said about having to do the Army Combat Fitness Test. “It is a challenge on its own. I wasn’t expecting it and I wish I could have started conditioning myself earlier.”

Foreman, who took the challenge of competing to see how he compares to his peers, said having to do the essay was another unexpected challenge.

“So, after going through the Master Leader Course and then coming here and the mystery challenge was the five-question, 50-minute essay, I wasn’t prepared for that,” Foreman said. “I didn’t know what the questions were going to be just like some of our students. So, what I did was read the questions as fast as I could and then answered them to the best of mu ability. That’s pretty much what we ask our students to do in class.”

Mangual agreed.

Master Sgt. Aaron Griffing of the Fort Bragg NCOA, North Carolina, pulls a 90-pound sled simulating the strength needed to pull a battle buddy out of harms way during the Army Combat Fitness Test portion of the Facilitator of the Year Competition. (Photo by Spc. James Seals)

“It was good. It put me in the mindset of what the students are experiencing, having to follow a rubric, having to stay within a certain topic,” he said. “It got me in the feeling of so this is what my students are going through. So I understand what is expected of them.”

Foreman also noted the challenge of having to do the ACFT and while has passed it, he had some advice for others.

“It’s not easy. It is very challenging,” he said. “Going forward I would just recommend everybody readjust your workout habits in order for you to be successful in the ACFT when it debuts.”

Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, commandant of the NCOL CoE, lauded the competitors and presented the winners with Army Commendation Medals and the other competitors with Certificate of Appreciation. All received a commandant’s coins for excellence for a job well done.

As the competitors make their way back to the respective academies to resume their facilitation of their PME courses, Carrillo remarked on the new method of facilitation.

“I like the new system the Army has moved to and I really like the new BLC too,” she said. “I think it is great. It is definitely different from the way it used to be and really tests the knowledge, the critical thinking, of the young Soldiers.”

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