Editor’s note: This instructor profile is part of a series profiling some of the best instructors within the Force Readiness Command enterprise. FORCECOM will be featuring outstanding instructors regularly who go above and beyond to help shape the future of the Coast Guard. Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Patch is a primary instructor for FS “A” School. He is also the school’s Curriculum Chief, analyzing, designing, developing, implementing and evaluating the curriculum. He is a qualified as a Master Training Specialist; the highest level of professional achievement in the instructor corps.
Interview conducted by Lt. Erin Chlum.
1. What made you decide to become an instructor?
I had been out of rate for four years as a recruiter. After speaking with the detailer, I made the decision to become an instructor. It seemed like the right decision for where I was in my career. I was able to take my knowledge of the recruiting process and apply the skills I learned there.
2. What do you find most motivating or rewarding in your role as an instructor?
The ability to influence the future of my rating. Working with students, we are able to ensure how they do the job in the fleet aligns with current policy and standards. As the Curriculum Chief, I am able to shape what and how we teach.
3. What are some of the lessons you have learned from your students?
I have learned that the new students entering the fleet are a hardworking, energetic, and intelligent group. I have also learned there is a real interest among this group and their peers for healthier food options.
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 go back into recruiting, as there is a significant need for Food Service Specialists. My time spent here at FS “A” School allows me to target the type of candidate that the rating and the Coast Guard are looking for. I would also find it rewarding to stay in FORCECOM as a member of the Instructional Systems School, teaching and mentoring the next group of Coast Guard instructors, or as a member of the Leadership and Development Center, continuing my passion of helping teach and develop the future leaders of the Coast Guard.
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 most significant challenge was achieving master training specialist qualification. This is a six month program that expands an instructor’s knowledge of the FORCECOM training system, through a series of workshops in instructor evaluation, course development, student academic value elements and classroom observation. The candidates are also given a performance qualification standards, and a topic in which they design all materials and present it to their peers. Finally, you have to pass a board consisting of members of the Instructional Systems School.
6. Describe some new or innovative methods or equipment you are using in the classroom.
Food Service Specialist “A” School recently built a demonstration classroom, with five overhead cameras. We are able to demonstrate all of the products to the students and they are able to watch on a TV, much like a Food Network show. With the success of the demonstration classroom, there will be additional cameras and TVs installed in all phases of FS “A” School.
7. How do you ensure that you keep current, teaching students the most up-to-date information and skills they will need?
We take the time to review level three surveys, which are sent to each graduate and his or her supervisor six months after reporting to their new unit. We use that data to drive discussion between the School Chief, the Program Manager, and the Rating Force Master Chief. Having this open communication within our rating allows us to align what we teach to what is actually being done in the fleet. The more of that data we get, the better we can adjust what and how we teach.
8. Are there specific experiences, skills, or knowledge you have found helpful in this tour as an instructor?
A willingness to continuously grow and learn both in my rating, and as an instructor.
9. What would you say to someone who is considering a tour as an instructor?
Being at the forefront of your rating presents unique opportunities for anyone looking to further his or her career. The opportunity to influence your rating is unmatched anywhere else in the service.
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 with patience, motivation, and a genuine desire to lead. Coming to Training Center Pateluma has been the best decision I have made in my Coast Guard career. The opportunities that a TRACEN Petaluma tour provides are amazing. There are workshops offered for professional growth. Having the Instructional Systems School on base allows for advanced instructor classes. There is also a full time education services office, and the command is very active in ensuring we have the ability to pursue continuing education.