Air Force announces Junior ROTC instructors of the year

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Vanessa Saks
  • Headquarters Air Force Junior ROTC

The Air Force recognized the performance of two of the best instructors in its Citizen Development program by awarding them Air Force Junior ROTC Instructor of the Year awards for the 2018-2019 academic year. The selection announcement was made June 12 at Headquarters AFJROTC, Maxwell Air Force Base.

Retired Col. Gina Humble, Baltimore Polytech Institute, received the Senior Aerospace Science Instructor of the Year award.

Retired Senior Master Sgt. James Core III, Cypress Ridge High School, Houston, received the Aerospace Science Instructor of the Year award.

The award program recognizes AFJROTC instructors’ “diligent work and outstanding achievement” in the development of cadets and encourages excellence through recognition of superior accomplishment. In addition to national recognition for their educational performance and award presentation from the director of Air Force Junior ROTC, the instructors get an additional financial stipend to further support their cadets.

In describing a typical day teaching in a Junior ROTC unit, both instructors’ responses revolved around a single theme: taking care of cadets.

“I think my standard day is like that of any other Junior ROTC instructor,” Humble said. “We teach, we mentor, we coordinate, we plan, we handle cadet issues, we take care of administrative tasks. My dad taught me the importance of work ethic by the example he set. As a result, I usually work on Junior ROTC tasks at night and on the weekends.”

“In the morning, prior to class, I talk with the cadets to see what is going on in their lives and to see if there is anything extra we can do for them,” Core said. “I start off each class with a quote of the day and have a few cadets give me their thoughts on it and how it can apply to them and others.”

Humble said her inspiration to serve in the military goes back to when she was 10 years old boating with her family in the Annapolis, Maryland, harbor near the U.S. Naval Academy.

“Everywhere I looked there were midshipmen walking around the streets in their crisp white uniforms,” she said. “It was that exposure that inspired me to join the military. I considered going to the Naval Academy, but ultimately decided on ROTC at Penn State (University). After interviewing with both the Navy and Air Force programs, the Air Force prevailed.”

Humble served in several career fields during her nearly 24 years on active duty, having worked in command and control, intelligence, services and personnel positions. She’s been the senior aerospace science instructor at Baltimore Polytech Institute for the past three years. When it came time to plan for life after retirement, she wasn’t even aware of the Air Force Junior ROTC program. With a master’s degree in education, she was leaning toward a teaching profession, but her overall desire was to make a difference. It was a chance encounter with a friend that put her on her current path.

“It was during lunch one day at the Pentagon that a friend of mine mentioned Junior ROTC,” she said. “As soon as I got back to my desk, I started doing research, and I soon realized it was the best of both worlds. Not only could I still wear the uniform, but I could also teach. Most importantly, being a Junior ROTC instructor would afford me the opportunity to make a difference.”

For her, being named SASI of the year means that the path she chose with her heart was the right one and gives her the deep satisfaction of knowing that she is making a positive impact in the lives of her students, the school and community.

“I am honored to represent the Air Force Junior ROTC program and to provide students the opportunity to grow and learn, enabling them all to rise to their full potential and to become productive citizens,” Humble said. “I am extremely proud of our cadets and everything they achieved this year. This award is a testament to their dedication and hard work.”

Core traces his inspiration to serve in the military to his desire to further his education and a memorable conversations with a mentor early in life.

“A retired chief master sergeant came to be the new manager of the company I was working for in high school,” he said. “I spoke to him every day, asking about a way I could get my college paid for, and he said the Air Force can help pay tuition until you get your degree. Sure enough, I enlisted and completed my associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees.”

In his 28 years in the Air Force, Core was a personnel manager and a senior ROTC cadre member. He worked as a course manager at a consulting firm after retiring from the Air Force. He has been an ASI at Cypress Ridge High School, Texas, for seven years.

He decided to become a Junior ROTC instructor so he could continue to mentor the youth in his community.

“As an instructor, I felt I could have a great impact on young peoples’ lives as they matriculate through high school,” he said. “I was a mentor for boys ages 7 to 17 at my church and I felt that I made a great impact with them, so I thought I could do the same thing in Junior ROTC for high school students as well.”

Core said that being named ASI of the year is not only an honor, but reaffirms the work he does to benefit his unit school and community. He does this through focusing on life skills and career opportunities that help cadets with finances and preparation for college, a military career or a job in the community.

He said he tries to instill unit pride in his cadets and encourages them, as well as himself, to live by the unit motto: “Look sharp, be sharp because I am sharp, and we are a distinguished unit.” It seems to be working. For the past three years, the unit has been named a “distinguished unit” and was recognized as “exceeding standards” on their last unit evaluation by Headquarters Air Force Junior ROTC.

Core is expected to be presented with his award at the 2019 Air Force Sergeants Association Convention in San Antonio in August.

Humble is expected to be presented with her award at the 2019 Air Force Association National Convention, National Harbor, Maryland, in September.

Active duty Air Force and recently retired Airmen interested in becoming an Air Force Junior ROTC instructor can find more information on the Air Force Junior ROTC web page under the “Instructor” tab at