Editor’s note: This instructor profile is part of a series profiling some of the best instructors and company commanders at Training Center Cape May, N.J. Force Readiness Command will be featuring outstanding instructors regularly who go above and beyond to help shape the future of the Coast Guard at our eight training centers. Petty Officer 1st Class Rick Bauz is an experienced company commander from Training Center Cape May, who recently was selected as the Coast Guard’s Top Cadence Author for 2013.
Written by Chief Warrant Officer Donnie Brzuska
What made you decide to become an instructor?
I think that anyone who comes to do this job automatically looks back to the ties they have to their own experience here in recruit training. I can still remember being on watch in Sexton Hall and getting the opportunity to wake up the forming recruits. I have always enjoyed teaching and mentoring as a boatswain’s mate and this job seemed to be a perfect fit for those particular attributes.
What do you find most rewarding in your role as an instructor?
I enjoy watching the progression whether it be in the classroom or teaching manual of arms and close order drill. In recruit training, you experience the greatest change in the growth of a person from civilian to military member, and no matter how many companies you run, the end result is always impressive. Every week two company is the worst group you have ever trained, and every week eight company is motivated and prepared to serve. It’s just funny that way because every two months they come and go.
What are some of the lessons you have learned from your students?
No matter the subject you have to keep it interesting. You have to buy in to what you are teaching. Just because you had a bad day or don’t like the subject isn’t the students fault, they are here for a reason. We are setting the ground work for junior professionals who are going to be mentoring and developing their own subordinates.
Where do you want to go for your next assignment, and how will this tour as an instructor help you in your career?
My next assignment will hopefully be on a patrol boat as an operations petty officer. In this role, it will be imperative to the success of the unit that the crew is well informed and trained on all aspects of the units responsibilities. We work in an ever changing environment of policy and procedure, and it is incumbent on the senior leaders at the unit to keep the crew trained.
Share a memorable anecdote or “sea story” from your time as an instructor or describe the most significant challenge you have overcome as an instructor.
In recruit training, one of the biggest challenges is the balance of company commander and instructor; meaning the ability to take it down enough to convey your message but the ability to manage the class properly to maintain military bearing while fostering a functional learning environment.
Describe some new innovative methods or equipment you are using in the classroom.
Recently we have been making a lot of changes to recruit training. One of those aspects is the Recruit Aptitude and Motivation Program, which is targeted toward recruits who need a little more motivation to get through recruit training. We took all the remedial instruction from RAMP and put it into lesson plan format, then wrote specific tasking so that the remedials are applied in phases that build through the few days spent in the program.
How do you ensure that you keep current, teaching students the most up-to-date information and skills they will need?
I use the message board to keep things current. I keep the recruits informed on policy changes that may affect them during their career, but more importantly, I review the mishaps as they come across the board. From the worst and most tragic to the minor injuries caused by complacency, it is important for them to understand the importance of always being alert and aware.
Are there specific experiences, skills, or knowledge you have found helpful in this tour as an instructor?
My “sea stories” and those of my shipmates help a great deal while doing this job. Every task can be related to life after boot camp, that’s what really motivates the recruits.
What would you say to someone who is considering a tour as an instructor?
If you enjoy teaching and mentoring in your current job, I would highly recommend this job to you. Being a company commander is unique, and you will hear it time and time again: you have to be here for the right reasons. It’s not about being in charge. It’s not about making friends. It is about building a strong foundation for someone to go out and pursue a successful career serving their country.
Who do you think would make a great instructor? What would you say to encourage them to pursue assignment to an instructor billet?
Great instructors are passionate about the material they have the responsibility to teach; they are motivators who keep the student on track and accountable for the information that they need to know. For any hardworking Coast Guardsman with great drive and pride in their service, this job has no equal. I would highly recommend it.