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Educational Department
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Honoring Our Best Teachers

by P/V/C Jim Roeber, SN, Past National Educational Officer

Through 19 years of formal education and numerous company training and continuing education courses, I figure I've been exposed directly to well over 160 different teachers, instructors, and professors. Of that number, three stand out clearly in my memory: "Fatty" Ferguson, "Cap" Steckel, and Herb Davison. Those names don't mean a thing to you. But they do to me. I credit each of these three people with having a major impact on my life in helping to develop my love of learning.

None of them was a world leader. I doubt that any appeared in "Who's Who in America." But each was an inspiring teacher. They knew their subject matter well, but didn't flaunt it. They knew how to present new ideas and concepts in a challenging way. They were able to put themselves in the shoes of the student to whom the subject matter was new and a little bit scary. They taught me to think for myself, to search for solutions. They led me to want to learn. In my book, they were my greatest teachers.

My hunch is that your schooling experiences have not been too different from mine. Most of your teachers were probably competent. Some were outstanding. A few were great.

And so it is within USPS. In the 450 squadrons of USPS, we have literally thousands of active teachers giving freely of their time and talent every year to present our courses. Most do a reasonably good job of presenting the material. Some are outstanding. A handful are great.

Each year the Educational Department conducts an extensive search through every squadron and district to identify and recognize five of our very best instructors. This search and recognition program leads up to the presentation at the USPS Annual Meeting in January of the Charles F. Chapman Award for Excellence in Teaching.

The screening process starts in the spring, when every squadron (through its Squadron Educational Officer) is asked to identify and nominate its very best currently active teacher. A nomination packet is then put together by the squadron. It provides basic biographical data about the squadron's nominee, specifics of his/her teaching activities, a current photograph, and up to five supporting letters from squadron members explaining why they feel this person is such an outstanding teacher. There is no "canned" formula for the contents of the nomination packet. No two are exactly alike.

Squadron nominations (limited to one per squadron per year) are submitted to their District Educational Officer by 15 July. The DEO reviews all of the nominations from within that district and selects the one best candidate as the district's nominee. That teacher's packet is then forwarded by the DEO to USPS headquarters by 1 September. All of the district nominations (hopefully 33) are reproduced by the HQ staff and sent out to a committee of 10 national judges, all of whom are highly regarded P/V/Cs or P/R/Cs who have been prominent in USPS education.

During the months of September and October each of the national judges reviews every district Chapman Award nomination and selects the five he or she considers best. These five are rank-ordered and assigned a scoring point value by that judge. The award committee chairman then assembles the results from the ten judges and combines their scoring. The five nominees receiving the highest combined point value are selected as the national winners.

Winners of the Charles F. Chapman Award for Excellence in Teaching are honored in several ways. Each receives a recognition plaque and special lapel pin at the Annual Meeting and has his/her name inscribed in a permanent log book in the Chapman Memorial Library at USPS headquarters in Raleigh. Each winner's squadron is also presented with a useful award of significant value, given in the winner's name.

The Charles F. Chapman Award for Excellence in Teaching is clearly the highest recognition award given to any individual in USPS.

Squadrons are encouraged to start looking now at their current year instructors to select their nominee. They should recognize that just because their candidate might not have won last year does not mean that the person won't be a winner for this year. Teachers who are not Chapman Award winners may be renominated. Award program rules also provide now that any squadron may submit a nomination, even if that squadron had one of the winners this past year. The goal is to have a Chapman Award nominee from every squadron in USPS every year.

As I look back over my own USPS experience, I can count up over 20 different instructors who have taught me various aspects of boating education. It so happens that none was a Chapman Award winner. (The program didn't exist when I took most of my courses.) But that doesn't mean there weren't some excellent teachers in the lot. There were. And each of them gave of himself or herself to help me. I expect that your USPS experiences are similar. What a great way to honor your best USPS teacher by starting the process within your squadron now to nominate them for the Charles F. Chapman Award for Excellence in Teaching.

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This page last updated Saturday, January 11, 2020 21:48