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Top teacher honors go to CMSgt. Ellis Clark at Bob Jones

MADISON – During much of his 30-year career, CMSgt. Ellis Clark instructed Air Force recruits about aircraft components. His knack for teaching segued well to AFJROTC cadets at Bob Jones High School, where he is 2022 “Teacher of the Year.”

Clark’s experience includes 30 years of military service in the U.S. Air Force. One assignment was Air Education Command Instructor. “For roughly 13 years, I taught a lot of new Airmen the various aspects of maintaining avionics, communication and navigation systems on fighter aircraft,” Clark said.

His teaching assignments included Cannon Air Force Base or AFB, Clovis, N.M.; Plattsburgh AFB, Plattsburgh, N.Y.; RAF Upper Heyford, United Kingdom; and Lowery AFB, Denver, Colo.

Shortly after Air Force retirement, Clark started working at Bob Jones. He teaches grades 9-12 with course materials including leadership and management, career prep, drill and ceremony, along with physical training. He coaches teams for archery, drill, Honor Guard and marksmanship.

Each team practices on designated days but start time is always 6 a.m.

“My teaching philosophy is simple, especially here in high school . . . to teach each cadet all the basic skills that will make them successful citizens, whether they go into the military, continue onto higher education or go straight into the workforce,” Clark said.

“I would not consider myself a strict disciplinarian, but I do insist that the students conform to a healthy structured environment . . . rich in military customs and courtesies,” Clark said.

Clark describes Air Force JROTC as a leadership lab . . . appropriately, considering a real-life challenge that Bob Jones cadets solved while COVID-19 was running rampant. Clark and fellow instructor Major Dr. Melissa Lacey were exposed to COVID-19 and forced to quarantine.

“This seemed to happen at the worst possible time (during) preparation for our homecoming parade, football game, gate-guarding and stadium cleanup, which required significant logistical planning. Our cadet leadership stepped to the plate and said they could do it. They coordinated the activities’ requirements with phone calls and tests from myself and Maj. Lacey. They made us exceptionally proud by putting their leadership training into action,” Clark said.

Clark’s educational resume is extensive: associate’s degrees in avionics technology, instructor of avionics technology, military science and human resources; bachelor’s degree in psychology; and master’s degree in psychology. His alma maters include Community College of the Air Force, Eastern New Mexico University, Maryland University, Southern University of New York and University of Phoenix.

Clark’s hometown is Jersey City, N.J.

“My spouse, Crystal, is also retired from the Air Force. We have two children, twins, Brandon and Briyana. They both currently attend the University of South Alabama,” CMSgt. Clark said.

“Most people don’t know that I’m a drummer. At one time, I directed and sang in a choir while stationed in the United Kingdom,” he said.

“My fondest hobby is photography,” Clark said. “Believe it or not, I actually had one of my earliest photos published in the ‘Who’s Who of Photography.’”

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