Recognizing Civilian - Kelly Bieschke

Recognizing Civilian

Position: Ordnance School instructor

Duties: Facilitate instruction of wheeled vehicle repair and maintenance

Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisc.

Length of federal service and military, if you served: “35 years federal service, with 20 of those in the military.”

Biggest accomplishments in your career: “Winning Ordnance Corps Instructor of the Year three times a row, 2017-2019.” 

One of your biggest personal accomplishments: “I’ve been married to my ‘Xena’ wife, Wendy, for over 32 years. We’ve been together for more than 37 years.”

The aspect of the job that challenges you most: “Ensuring Soldiers remain passionate about learning their chosen craft. Many of my Soldiers are experiencing their first lengthy separation from home. They are meeting new and different individuals. This can distract them from learning. Teaching Soldiers how to learn when dealing with such diverse backgrounds and so many distractions is not easy. To maintain their focus, I keep them inquisitive by staying abreast on the newest technologies and equipment. Today’s 21st century Soldiers are passionate about the most recent advancements. This helps me bridge the gap for them and aids the implementation of learning strategies. Most importantly, Soldiers remain passionate for learning how to become warrior mechanics.”

The aspect of the job you like the most: “The joy on the student’s face when they are able to take a small engine apart, talk about what’s inside, put it back together and actually start it up when they’re finished.”

Best thing your boss or a student has said about you: “My boss calls me ‘The Goat.’ (Greatest of all Time)”

What did it take to win instructor of the year? “I earned the honor because I had the highest score, from multiple judges (on a 100-point scale), out of all the competitions to get there. First, you have to win a Department of the Quarter board. Then, the Instructor of the Quarter board for the Ordnances School. Those four quarterly winners then compete for the Ordnance Corps Instructor of the Year. Just think of it like ‘American Idol.’”

What is your strength in teaching students? “Being able to utilize experience, compassion, humor, discipline and commitment to frame and paraphrase instructional content that resonates with 21st century Soldiers. I have the privilege of witnessing my Soldiers’ growth as maintainers due to the unique combination of experiences and personality I contribute. My Soldiers easily relate to, and are inspired by, this unique combination and excel at becoming outstanding warrior mechanics.”

How do you help a student who’s overwhelmed? “Just talk to them. Find out what their issues are. Let them know that everything will be all right. Let them know that this is a training environment, and it’s okay to make mistakes here as long as it doesn’t affect life or limb. You don’t have to be perfect, just learn, grow and continue to move forward. Don’t forget to always, ‘hunt the good stuff.’ If we can’t help them, we will find someone who can.”

What advice do you give to students during this more stressful time than usual? “I let them know there have been pandemics before, and we have made it through those. I remind them to stay calm, wear their mask and practice social distancing. We will make it through this.”

Other than the social distancing and cleaning, have you changed the way you teach? “Yes, we have changed our teaching style. We have reduced the size of our classes, minimized movement, and wear masks and/or face shields.”

What/Who is helping you through the COVID-19 challenges and how? “There are multiple people helping me in these trying times. My boss at home and my boss at work. They constantly remind me to wear my mask and wash my hands. They ask me how I’m doing, or is there anything they can get or help me with. Also, my faith and talking to and about my late father. They have all the answers.”

Who or what are you missing most right now? “My dad; he passed away last month.”

Tell me one thing that makes you smile, especially now: “Memories of the good times I had with my dad.”

What would surprise people to know about you? “I’m not a morning person. … Just kidding, everybody knows that. I’ve actually won Instructor of the Year six times, three at Fort Jackson, S.C., and three here.”

Favorite quote or saying: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift because it’s the present.”

What’s the first thing you plan to do when things return to normal? “Get a haircut from a professional barber.”