MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
An instructor assigned to the Air Force Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy here, was named this year’s recipient of the Chief Master Sgt. Billy R. Hunter SNCOA Instructor of the Year award.
Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Wallace, SNCOA director of resources, has been assigned to the academy for almost three years and said the award is affirmation that he’s doing what he’s meant to.
The award is given to Air Force SNCOA instructors who demonstrate superior performance and make significant contributions to Air Force enlisted professional military education.
Instructors assigned to the Air Force SNCOA, Army Sergeants Major Academy, U.S. Navy Senior Enlisted Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Academy, the German SNCOA and the Canadian Air Force Command Professional Development and Training Center are all eligible to be nominated the award.
As a part of earning the award, Wallace was sent on temporary duty to the Canadian Air Force Command Professional Development and Training Center to strengthen international relationships between the two services and schools.
In addition to the work ethic he learned from his father growing up, Wallace contributes his success to the support system at the Air Force SNCOA.
“The biggest part is that my peers challenge me to up my game, take it to another level and be the best Airmen I can be,” he said. “I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth and there are a lot of awesome people working around here so you can’t be a slacker.”
Wallace began his Air Force career as an ammunition technician, however, he has always been drawn to teaching and began trying to make his way into EPME when he was a staff sergeant.
“Teaching in general has always been an interest of mine, I think there’s a sanctity between teacher and student relationships no matter the setting,” Wallace said. “It has to do with the passing of knowledge and information …. It’s not just a tangible item that fades and deteriorates over time, it’s knowledge that can continue to pass from person to person and generation to generation.”
Although teaching is where is passion lies, Wallace said coming from a blue collar background has allowed him to relate to other maintainers who come through the course and also able to provide that perspective to students who haven’t been exposed to that environment.
When asked if he had any advice for new or future instructors he said, “Coming into this environment is just a different approach to the information so be prepared; come in with an open mind and focus up front on becoming an instructor and knowing what all that means.”