DVIDS – News – Marine from Green Bay, Wisconsin receives the Formal School Instructor of the Year Award
For nearly three years, U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Shannelle M. Styczynski has served as an instructor at the Marine Corps’ Logistics Operations School in Camp Johnson, North Carolina, where she teaches entry-level, intermediate, and advanced courses on logistics and motor transport operations to enlisted Marines as well as logistics officers. She was recently recognized as the Marine Corps’ top Formal School Instructor for her achievements in Academic Year 2023 at an awards banquet in Arlington, Virginia where Gen Eric M. Smith, the 36th Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, handed her an imposing trophy. During her time as an instructor at LOS, she has enhanced the quality of the academic experience for over 4,600 Marines.
Styczynski was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin and grew up in the nearby small town of Krakow along with her four brothers and three sisters. During her senior year of high school, she decided to become a Marine after seeing a Marine Corps recruiter walking through her school.
“I’m going to do that one day,” Styczynski told herself as she looked at the Marine in his dress blues uniform. One of her friends told her she would never make it and that she wasn’t fit enough to be a Marine. Styczynski strengthened her resolve and sought out the recruiter to discuss how she could become a Marine.
After meeting with the recruiter, Styczynski was asked what military occupational specialty (MOS) she wanted in the Marines. Initially, she wanted to become an infantryman, the main fighting element of the Marine Corps, because she thought that was the only job in the Marines. Unfortunately, women were not allowed to serve in the infantry at that time (In 2016, the Department of Defense opened infantry and all combat arms jobs throughout the armed services to women).
Knowing that Styczynski wanted a job that would be rigorous and challenging, her recruiter presented her with the idea of being in the motor transportation occupational field. Known colloquially in the Marine Corps as “Motor-T,” motor vehicle operators inspect, operate, and manage medium and heavy-wheeled vehicles in a variety of terrain and weather conditions to transport troops, supplies, and equipment in support of combat and garrison operations. Her recruiter informed her the job involved a lot of “windshield time.”
“Sure,” said Styczynski. “I like to drive!”
Following high school, Styczynski attended “boot camp” at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, graduating in December 2008. She then attended combat training at Marine Corps Base Camp Geiger, North Carolina and then transferred to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for training on her MOS as a motor vehicle operator. Upon graduating from her MOS school, she reported to her first unit, Combat Logistics Battalion 4 on Marine Corps Base Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan. 4th CLB provides motor transport and tactical logistical support to 4th Marine Infantry Regiment.
While at 4th CLB, Styczynski participated in a multi-national exercise known as “Cobra Gold” where she traveled to Kanchanaburi, Thailand, to conduct convoy training operations with the Royal Thai Army. She would later transfer to CLB 3 out of Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii and deploy to Helmand province, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, providing logistical support and resupply to Marines who were engaged in counterinsurgency operations against the Taliban.
After serving in several different units and participating in multiple exercises, Styczynski was selected to become a Marine Corps recruiter in Appleton, Wisconsin, just one hour away from her family. During her time on recruiting duty, she was responsible for recruiting and processing 73 people into the Marine Corps.
Following her tour on recruiting duty, Styczynski was transferred to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California where she would serve at 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Infantry Regiment to serve as the unit’s motor transportation chief. She was the first female Marine to serve in that unit, which had been closed to women prior to the DOD integrating women into the combat units. Styczynski would deploy with 1/5 on the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to Japan where she participated in multiple exercises and directly planned and executed over 1,000 logistical support missions.
During her career, Styczynski has continually excelled within her career field, earning multiple awards, citations, certificates, and possessing a government license that is a mile long that certifies her to drive a variety of tactical and logistical vehicles, fuel tankers, heavy equipment and even a dump truck. However, despite all her achievements and noteworthy experiences, she has had a very important mission in mind: becoming a motor transportation instructor. Throughout the years, Styczynski had identified many deficits within her MOS and wanted to correct them through teaching.
“I wanted to help the (motor transportation) MOS,” said Styczynski. “I wanted to make a difference…If you come to the formal learning school you get to correct those shortfalls and teach people what they don’t know here so in the fleet they can become more successful.”
In April of 2021, she checked into Logistics Operations School to serve as an instructor for a variety of transportation operations courses. Since she began teaching, Styczynski has sought to do whatever it takes to ensure students who graduate from the school are competent within their MOS.
“I really embrace modernized learning,” said Styczynski. “It’s not informal lecture, demonstration, practical application, and examination. If I’m teaching from a PowerPoint and halfway through I start to seeing students get go use the [restroom] then the PowerPoint is not teaching them anything. If the students are getting up to use the [restroom] then they’re telling you that you’re boring.”
Styczynski says she uses a variety of methods to keep her students engaged including pop quizzes, asking opinionated questions, and developing her own teaching aids. She says the most helpful tool in her toolbox when it comes to teaching is her fellow instructors who frequently share their best practices and ideas with her.
“I’m not successful because of what I know – it’s who I know,” said Styczynski. “I’m not scared to reach out for help. If it was not for [fellow instructors] I would not be successful.”
While she utilizes a variety of methods to engage her students and adapts the lesson plans based on the types of students she encounters, Styczynski says the most powerful tool that an instructor can possess is passion.
“I care,” said Styczynski. “If you walk into a classroom and if you think it is the worst class and that it does not [need to be taught], you still need to walk into that class and make it seem like it is the most important class.”
Despite all her accolades and being recognized at an awards ceremony by the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Styczynski says her biggest win as an instructor is when students who have graduated from one of the classes she’s taught is calling or emailing her about a question they have or if they need a solution to a problem.
“I don’t give [former students] the answer and I don’t allow them to use me as the ‘easy button,’ but that lets me know that they’re comfortable enough to reach back out and they’re looking for what right looks like.”
|Date Posted:||08.17.2023 20:24|
|Location:||CAMP JOHNSON, NC, US|
|Hometown:||GREEN BAY, WI, US|
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