USPS Honors the 2015 Charles F. Chapman Award for Excellence in Teaching Winners
By Yvonne Hill
In February, at the 2016 Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida, USPS honored five top volunteer instructors with the 2015 Charles F. Chapman Award for Excellence in Teaching.
These educators share several traits including a wealth of experience, a love of teaching, a dedication to their students and a desire to make the water a better place.
Each district can nominate one instructor for this award each year. A national committee selects the top five educators from this pool of nominees.
Each winner receives a plaque honoring the achievement, a four-year USPS-certified instructor card and a gold Chapman Award lapel pin. The winners’ squadrons receive a high-quality sextant in a presentation case engraved with the winner’s name and squadron. A permanent log of all winners and nominees resides in the USPS Memorial Library in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Please join us in congratulating these dedicated volunteer educators and honoring their service to USPS and boating education.
Lt/C Nathan L. Hazen, SN, of Portsmouth Sail & Power Squadron/19 has 41 merit marks and has been a member for 51 years. Nate joined United States Power Squadrons in 1960 and has been teaching courses and motivating students ever since. For 28 years, Nate worked as an engineer with Harvard University assigned to NASA’s most cutting-edge research projects.
Known for his professionally produced teaching aids, Nate supplements the course material with his own animated PowerPoint presentations, stirs in some humor and captivates students’ attention so well that his two-hour lectures race by.
William F. Cass, a student and fellow instructor, considers Nate to be a great instructor, one who has an in-depth knowledge of the material and its real-life applications plus the credibility and life experience to captivate the class.
Andrew J. Glazier, who took Junior Navigation and Navigation with Nate, said, “No matter how much we struggled with celestial theory and the challenging course material, Nate was always able to find a way to clearly communicate the issue at hand to every student.”
Several former students praised Nate’s teaching prowess and his use of current technology to enhance his lessons. “While Nate has been an instructor for decades,” former student and squadron Commander Bradley Schintzius said, “his presentations are in step with the latest technology.”
Schintzius added, “Nate also volunteers to assist other instructors so their presentation material is current, understandable and engaging.”
Kathleen and Mark Lord, who skipped Advanced Piloting and went straight from Piloting to Junior Navigation, said they passed JN thanks to Nate’s dedication. “His ability to set the books aside and facilely illustrate complex concepts in a manner we could more easily grasp has always impressed us. If we struggled, he felt responsible to find a solution.”
Lt/C John Locke, SN, of Kent Narrows Sail & Power Squadron/5 has five merit marks and has been a member for six years. A retired U.S. Navy commander, he has more than 50 years’ experience on Navy ships and recreational vessels. Since 2005, he has logged more than 14,000 nautical miles cruising the East Coast, Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico and the Bahamas.
Before joining USPS, John taught U.S. Navy small boat and sailing classes in the classroom and on the water.
For the past three years, he has taught America’s Boating Course, Seamanship, Piloting, Advanced Piloting, Cruise Planning, Sail and Electronic Navigation. He has also presented many seminars and has significantly expanded the squadron’s on-the-water training activities.
John makes extensive use of training aids, transitions smoothly between subject areas and is known for his expert technical knowledge. He easily adapts his teaching style to help students having difficulty grasping key concepts and makes himself available to help students outside of class.
Former student Howard Bernstein said John’s “vast experience allows him to supplement and amplify the text with real-life experience and provide answers to student questions that are not directly covered by the written materials.”
Former student and fellow instructor Richard Radlinski said students benefit from John’s experience. “They know that he knows what he is talking about, and they pay attention and learn.”
John also pays close attention to his students’ progress. “He moves right along if the students are getting the material but takes extra time when it is necessary,” Radlinski said.
Having initiated the squadron’s on-the-water training program, John incorporates hands-on boating wherever practical, Radlinski said. “He does an excellent job of giving inexperienced boaters the confidence and skills they need to operate a boat properly and safely.”
P/D/C Brian M. Logan, SN, of Akron Sail & Power Squadron/7 has 25 merit marks and has been a member for 30 years. A retired engineer, Brian regularly teaches Sail and Advanced Piloting, and has taught Piloting, Weather, ABC and selected seminars.
An instructor who goes above and beyond for his students, he modifies his presentations to fit individual needs, sends weekly recap emails and makes extensive use of videos and other training aids.
Brian also maintains a personal website to which he posts material, including teaching aids and end-of-chapter questions, to help his students. Thomas E. Vielhaber used Brian’s website for Advanced Piloting, which he expected to be a difficult class. “The website showed the homework cruise charted out leg by leg and enabled me to correct the leg without moving on and compounding my errors.”
Several students said they’d follow Brian to whatever class he taught. “After I took the VHF Radio and Weather seminars with Brian, I knew I would sign up for any class he taught,” said Sandra Vielhaber, a power boater who took Advanced Piloting and Sail. “Before each Sail class he showed a short video that demonstrated pertinent information from earlier classes.
“Brian adds his own, sometimes humorous, anecdotes to illustrate concepts, making the information more relevant and interesting,” Viehlhaber said, adding that, “A model of a sailboat and an actual sail with battens and telltales brought the two-dimensional examples to life.”
1st/Lt Kenneth W. Scherz, SN, of Jacksonville Sail & Power Squadron/23 has 20 merit marks and has been a member for 23 years. Ken served in the U.S. Army for 23 years and was an aviator for 13 of those years. He taught high school industrial arts for two years and worked for Gulfstream Aerospace from 1978 to 1993.
Ken currently teaches Instructor Development, Advanced Piloting and Junior Navigation. He assists in teaching Piloting and ABC and helps train other instructors. He serves on the Inland and Coastal Navigation Committee; has won first, second and third place in the national Teaching Aid Awards; and has twice won the District 23 Teaching Award.
Student Gerry Sanchez enrolled in Junior Navigation expecting it to be a dry, serious course, but he said Ken’s low-key approach kept him engaged from the start.
“He demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of the subject, showed us different ways to approach particular problems, was incredibly patient when the class was slow to grasp a particular concept, treated us with respect, and ensured that every student had a firm grasp of the course material.”
Darryl Currie, a student in Ken’s Navigation class, appreciated his dedication to his students. “As long as any of us was willing to struggle to learn, he was willing to take the time and effort to see us past the rocks and shoals of ineptitude to learn the right way of celestial navigation.”
Students praise Ken’s use of practical examples and teaching aids. “He has created plotting tools for the whiteboard so that we could as a class collectively learn the proper use of the tools and techniques,” said Ronald Poland. “He has also developed and shared practical and very useful learning aids that simplify calculations and which will enable us as future navigators to be more efficient.”
P/R/C Alan F. Wentworth, SN, of Door County Power Squadron/10 has 38 merit marks and has been a member for 41 years. A retired neurosurgeon, Alan has been teaching USPS courses for three decades. His extensive teaching experience and Junior Navigation and Navigation exam grading experience make him an exceptionally knowledgeable upper-grades instructor. He currently teaches Navigation and Weather as well as Instructor Development and various USPS seminars.
Alan has been a leader in using distance education to reach students across Wisconsin. In 2013, he taught a Weather class for students at two Northeast Wisconsin Technical College campuses, Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay, using the school’s ITV technology. He alternated weeks at each campus to give all students face time. Because of cost constraints, the squadron now uses GoToMeeting for distance learning classes.
According to Commander Bob DeNoto, Alan uses GoToMeeting to instruct Navigation to five students, two of whom are in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin; one in DePere, Wisconsin; one in Bemidji, Minnesota; and the fifth in Indianapolis, Indiana.
John Reichmann, one of Alan’s distance Navigation students, said his dedication to his students goes beyond the classroom. “He and I were taking a 17-mile cruise across the waters of Green Bay in our boats to meet up with some other squadron members. He had probably made the crossing dozens of times, but this was my first crossing. I was expecting him to say, ‘Follow me.’ Instead he had me set the course and take the lead.”
This commitment made an impact on Reichmann, who found himself taking mental notes on how to be an effective instructor. “I expect that after I complete the Instructor Development course, I can begin to contribute to USPS in perhaps a fraction of the way that he has,” Reichmann said.
Terrence Keating added, “What I have most enjoyed from my interactions with Alan is watching how he operates as a human being, showing me how I can become a better communicator and person. Having someone of Alan’s caliber interacting with me both personally and professionally has been the best experience of all.”
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