Colonel (Ret.) Paul L. Willis, Director of Army Instruction (DAI) for Jackson Public School District and Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Veronica L. Baker, Senior Army Instructor (SAI) for Murrah High School were both recently selected as U.S. Army Cadet Command DAI and SAI of the Year respectively for 2013.
There are 53 DAIs spread across various locations in the U.S., who are responsible for overseeing the operations of five or more Army units in the same school district. Nomination for the DAI of the Year Award starts with a recommendation from the school district superintendent and ultimately a board is convened at U.S. Army Cadet Command, Fort Knox, KY to consider two nominees each, from the seven Army ROTC Brigades across the U.S.
Both Col. Willis and LTC Baker received the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal for their designation as DAI and SAI of the Year respectively. This award is presented by the Commanding General, U.S. Army Cadet Command and is the second highest public service honorary award, which the Secretary of the Army or a commander (Major General or above) may grant to a private citizen.
Col. Willis is a native of Edwards, MS and a proud graduate of Alcorn State University where he earned his bachelor's degree and he's also a graduate of Chicago State University where he earned his master's degree. He served over 25 year on active duty with assignments across the U.S., Germany and Saudi Arabia. The majority of his Army career was spent commanding soldiers at every level from platoon leader, company commander, battalion commander, brigade commander and region commander.
LTC Baker holds a bachelor's degree from Morgan State University, located in her native state of Maryland. She earned a master's degree in Administration from Central Michigan University. Her duties as a United States Army officer transported her across the globe with overseas assignments in Frankfurt, Germany, Seoul, Korea, and Panama City, Panama. She served as a NATO officer in Izmir, Turkey and was deployed to Sarajevo, Bosnia.
LTC Baker was named the Murrah High School 2011-12 Teacher of The Year. She is believed to be the first JROTC instructor ever to be named a school's Teacher of the Year in Jackson Public Schools. She was the overwhelming choice of her colleagues at Murrah. She was also named the Watson Quality Ford Teacher of the Week in September 2012.
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