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Staff Sgt. Elmer Estes, an instructor at the Twentynine Palms Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy, counsels a Marine in his Sergeants Course class Feb. 15, 2011, in a Sergeants Course barracks. Estes was recently named the Combat Center’s Instructor of the Year.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Anderson

Sergeants Course Marine named Combat Center’s Instructor of the Year

18 Feb 2011 | Lance Cpl. Sarah Anderson

Staff Sgt. Elmer Estes, a native of Harlan, Ky., was named the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center’s Instructor of the Year in February, for standing out among his peers as a Sergeants Course instructor at the Twentynine Palms Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy.

“He’s a very passionate Marine and deliberate in his approach to teaching,” said Gunnery Sgt. James Petty, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of Sergeants Course. “When the academy nominated him, it was a unanimous decision.”

Joining the Marine Corps in 1998, Estes was originally a small arms repairman for 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. He became an instructor with the Staff Noncommissioned officers Academy in July of 2010.

Estes said he tries to grab his students’ attention to help them better retain the information they are being taught and stay engaged in learning.

“I believe we set the students up for failure if we don’t let them explore as many avenues of approach as possible,” Estes said. “I believe the textbook is a guide that allows us to expand on. It allows the sergeants to teach themselves without even knowing it.”

Winning against the other instructor nominees on the Combat Center, which includes Marines from other courses across the installation, was an extreme honor, Estes said.

“Everyone here has their own unique philosophies and ways they incorporated their teaching methods,” he said. “Being recommended was an honor, and winning is an even bigger honor. It’s rewarding knowing all of our efforts combined are being recognized across the Marine Corps.”

Estes was selected for the board because of his influence on the students, as seen in their end of course critiques, and for achieving senior faculty advisor in only about six months, Petty said.

“He excelled quicker than any other I’ve seen,” he said. “He is always the first to the office and the last to leave. That stands out.”

Estes said teaching is his passion.

“With sergeants, challenging them every day to allow themselves to develop to a more well-rounded Marine is rewarding in itself,” Estes said. “Watching them grow, watching their determination and inspiration for learning what I’m teaching is phenomenal. To see them take back to their units what I taught them is more rewarding than winning an award itself.”

Estes will now move on to the Enlisted Professional Military Education Instructor of the Year board. This will include Marine Corps-wide enlisted Instructor of the Year winners from individual installations.

If Estes wins in the EPME board, he will then move on to the Elihu Rose Award, which is Marine Corps-wide and will put him up against the best officers and civilian instructors the Corps has to offer as well.


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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms