JROTC instructor named La. high school teacher of year

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Melissa Copeland
  • Air University Public Affairs
A Louisiana Air Force JROTC Senior Aerospace Science Instructor (SASI) was recognized July 17 as the 2010 Louisiana High School Teacher of the Year by the Louisiana Department of Education at the Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium in Baton Rouge, La., for his integral contributions to the education of young Americans. 

Retired Maj. Donald R. Bailey, of Donaldsonville High School AFJROTC detachment LA-20023 in Donaldsonville, LA., was chosen from 21 regional finalists as the outstanding educator. 

The AFJROTC program aims to educate and train high school cadets in citizenship, promote community service, instill responsibility, character, self-discipline and provide instruction in air and space fundamentals. 

"I am very honored to be selected as the Louisiana High School Teacher of the Year," said Major Bailey. "It's exciting to see that the educational community values the JROTC community and its instructors as a vital part of the school." 

The Napoleonville, La., native has been a JROTC instructor for seven years. Prior to joining the JROTC program, Major Bailey taught science, social studies and Physical Education in Assumption Parish for six years and also coached football and basketball. 

"I try to inspire effort, encourage achievement and awaken joy in learning and knowledge," he said. "I attempt to foster critical thinking, facilitate life-long learning skills and prepare students to function effectively in the world outside the classroom." 

His JROTC enrollment numbers and community service projects reflect Major Bailey's efforts to, "motivate students to take responsibility for their education, become independent learners and understand that success is ultimately up to them." 

In the previous school year alone, the total enrollment in the JROTC program at Donaldsonville High School represented roughly 34 percent of the school's population, the major said. 

In addition, the unit volunteered more than 6,000 hours of community service projects from distributing government commodities to the elderly, serving and entertaining seniors, assisting in community parades and fairs, presenting the colors at school and civic events to name a few, all with fewer than 100 cadets. The unit was named as the 2008 Ascension Parish Volunteer Group of the Year. 

Under the stewardship of Major Bailey, the cadets of LA-20023 have had numerous opportunities to experience real-world aerospace history, science and leadership with trips to the Air Force Academy, West Point, the Naval Academy, Washington, D.C., New York, Hawaii, London, Paris and Rome. 

"My classroom guarantees that students don't learn in static environments," he said. "The total class experience is a microcosm of the real-world where students are given opportunities to question the world around them and explore that world for answers."

Major Bailey feels his success is contingent upon the success of his students. 

"I believe that if I help my students become life-long independent learners, I have done my job well," he said. "The greatest reward is seeing the students develop new skills, stretch to higher levels of performance and gain an appreciation of knowledge and learning that will impact the rest of their lives." 

Prior to retiring, Major Bailey dedicated 10 years of enlisted service as a master sergeant in civil engineering, logistics and as an environmental instructor. Later as a logistics and training officer at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, he served as a flight commander and officer instructor. 

"While in the military, I was fortunate to serve as an academic instructor twice, and from that point on, I prepared myself for a new profession of teaching in the public school system," the major said. 

After employing the benefits of Troops to Teachers, a DoD program designed to recruit servicemembers into careers as teachers in public schools, in 1996 Major Bailey, "decided to become a SASI because I was able to participate in my two loves - teaching and the military environment," he said. 

"I believe JROTC is an important program for teens because it is one of the few opportunities in high school where students ... join a program based on serving their nation and community and developing into a better overall citizen," the major said. "My students learn and display respect, discipline and honor for themselves and for their community." 

Currently, there are 879 AFJROTC units worldwide with 1,933 instructors and 102,000 cadets enrolled. 

For more information on the AFJROTC program, or instructor requirements and vacancies, visit www.au.af.mil/au/holmcenter/ AFJROTC/index.asp.