A brisk wind blows through the open work bay at Regional Training Site – Maintenance (RTS-M) Devens on this late morning in March as Sgt. 1st Class Gilbert Galman, a 94th Training Division instructor, hunches over a computer screen, carefully analyzing the results of his students’ preventative maintenance checks and services diagnostic exam. Huddling them up, he meticulously outlines some of the common deficiencies he has noticed and, along with the other instructors, runs through some hands-on practical exercises with the students, ensuring that they learn from their experiences so they can make the necessary adjustments to ace their final test of the 91B Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic Course. It’s this kind of attention to detail that helped earn Galman the title of Instructor of the Year at Regional Training Site – Maintenance (RTS-M) Devens in October of last year, an honor he still currently holds and consistently strives to prove himself worthy of every day. Galman was surprised by the honor since he did not set out to achieve any sort of recognition, but instead simply focused his efforts on trying to offer the same kind of effective and meaningful instruction that his fellow instructors offer at the Devens schoolhouse. “As far as teaching and teaching the right way,” says Galman, “it’s always been the right way, as far as what we do here.”
Galman actually seems to shy away from the spotlight himself, instead opting to promote the successes of his team and his students. He can usually be found taking pictures of important ceremonies or training events to post to the RTS-M Devens Facebook page, but whether Galman is sharing knowledge online or in the classroom, he excels at sharing his enthusiasm for learning. According to the leadership at RTS-M Devens, he is constantly looking for ways to improve, incorporating real-world experience and the latest technological advancements to provide his students the best possible instruction the U.S. Army Reserve has to offer.
“He appreciates progress,” says Master Sgt. Richard A. Samoisette, the RTS-M Devens Chief Instructor Writer. “[Galman] is always improving and disseminates his knowledge and leadership whenever possible. His students are kept well-informed and always share in the latest info, whatever the subject.”
In this case, the subject is wheeled vehicle maintenance, where students learn the basic tasks and requirements for the U.S. Army’s 91B wheeled vehicle mechanic military occupational specialty. During the course, students learn to work on a variety of vehicles, including Medium Tactical Vehicles, Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks, and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. Tasks like taking engines apart and putting them back together can become tedious, but Galman keeps his classes engaged, bringing his field experience to the classroom and utilizing innovative ways to assist Soldiers in becoming highly proficient.
Not content to simply run through powerpoint slide presentations, Galman often uses more hi-tech methods to get his message across, like using his GoPro video camera to record students doing practical exercises and then allowing them the opportunity to watch it back with the class on a large screen television so students can see exactly what they’re doing. It’s an added level of immersion for the students, giving them a chance to see first-hand what the instructors are seeing and helping them understand how they can make adjustments and improve. This creates a more collaborative atmosphere and even presents an opportunity for the instructors to gain some new insight. “The system is a foundation, it’s a guideline of how things need to be done…but there’s always room for improvement,” says Galman. “So when we incorporate all these things…we are learning from each other.”
Sgt. Major Stephen Haynes oversees the training at RTS-M Devens and he explains that Galman’s style of teaching has greatly benefitted the classroom experience, giving students and instructors alike a better perspective on how classroom training impacts the U.S. Army Reserve’s overall mission, especially when it comes to preparing Soldiers to be ready and capable at a moment’s notice. “Galman’s technique of mentorship is contagious,” said Haynes. “He has a way of relating with all Soldiers and is continually getting the best out of them.” Galman’s creative thinking is why he was selected as the first multi-competent instructor at the Army’s Ordnance school in February 2018, explained Haynes. “Because of his impact on students, the school took down his ideas and says they would like to implement them.”
Because U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers have to balance civilian life with their military commitments, it becomes essential that Soldiers maintain proficiency in their career fields and learn ways to effectively sustain and build upon their skillsets. Instructors like Galman are an essential component in instilling Soldiers with the knowledge to do their jobs well and the drive to keep themselves sharp, always striving for excellence and primed to carry out their missions whenever called upon. “With a top-notch leader or instructor comes dedication, regiment, structure, and a passion to live the Army Values,” says Samoisette. “These traits are a must when it comes to readiness and the ability to sustain operations and complete mission.” And what do you get when a leader like Galman shares his unique vision and passion in the field and in the classroom? Samoisette has an answer: “When an instructor emulates this type of vigor to his peers and subordinates, we all come out on top.”