Editor’s note: This instructor profile is part of a series profiling some of the best instructors and company commanders throughout Force Readiness Command. This series will feature outstanding instructors who regularly go above and beyond to help shape the future of the Coast Guard. Petty Officer 1st Class Jeromy Sherrill is an instructor at the Coast Guard’s Container Inspection Training Assist Team in Oklahoma City, Okla.
1. What made you decide to become an instructor?
To be honest, it was not part of my master plan. After I didn’t receive any of the billets on my dream sheet, I was emailed a supplemental list including 6 open billets to choose from. One of the billets was as a CITAT instructor. That one seemed to be the most interesting, so I ranked it #1 on my supplemental list. Shortly thereafter, I had orders to CITAT in Oklahoma City. I had some difficulty at first and was unhappy with the assignment, but after steady practice I began to get the hang of it. I have become much more comfortable instructing and with all the required travel. Now, two years into my instructor billet, I’m really happy with the job.
2. What do you find most motivating or rewarding in your role as an instructor?
I really enjoy helping students develop a comprehensive understanding of how to do the job right. Many students that we teach are assigned to a container inspection shop at their unit, or will be soon; I like being able to help someone develop proficiency and become more comfortable and confident with their day-to-day job.
3. What are some of the lessons you have learned from your students?
I’ve taught courses in three other countries. The students’ culture and language were very different from my own, but I’ve found that being respectful, open-minded and maintaining a good attitude translates positively to any language.
4. Where do you want to go for your next assignment, and how will this tour as an instructor help you in your career?
I would like to get back to a prevention department at a sector or MSD on the east coast. This billet has an assignment priority 4, so it should definitely help with that.
5. 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?
The largest challenge I had to overcome was simply getting comfortable speaking in front of a room full of strangers. It took some time, but eventually the nervousness stopped. Now I look forward to it.
6. Describe some new or innovative methods or equipment you are using in the classroom.
The majority of CITAT’s courses are taught on the road, so the equipment used is minimal, no fancy props or gadgets, but our instructional method is a good mix of classroom lessons, practical exercises and field experience.
7. How do you ensure that you keep current, teaching students the most up-to-date information and skills they will need?
As soon as a new edition of an applicable regulation comes out, we immediately switch over to the new regulations and teach the students the new material and highlight any new changes.
8. Are there specific experiences, skills, or knowledge you have found helpful in this tour as an instructor?
Past experience with the subject matter definitely helps, but with the frequent travel and such a diverse pool of students, I think being adaptive and having a laid-back attitude is even more helpful.
9. What would you say to someone who is considering a tour as an instructor?
It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you like helping others learn you should definitely consider it, even if you’re not comfortable with public speaking. With practice and persistence you can become at ease talking to large groups of strangers, which is quite rewarding and can help you greatly throughout the rest of your career.
10. Who do you think would make a great instructor? What would you say to encourage them to pursue assignment to an instructor billet?
Someone who is creative, naturally enthusiastic, and has a positive attitude would make a great instructor. If you enjoy helping people learn, then you should definitely consider putting an instructor billet on your dream sheet. It is a challenge, but it is a unique and rewarding experience.