A Cherokee County School District teacher has earned a top national honor!
Etowah High School Air Force Junior ROTC Lt. Col. (Retired) Stephen Bergey has been named the 2022 Overall AFJROTC Instructor of the Year. He was selected as the best out of more than 1,900 AFJROTC instructors worldwide.
“Through this award, we honor their exemplary contributions and impact on their cadets, school, and community,” AFJROTC Director Col. Johnny R. McGonigal said, congratulating Lt. Col. Bergey and the regional finalists. “I extend my deepest appreciation for their dedication, hard work, and investment they have put into our AFJROTC program and into our cadets. They represent the highest examples of the Air Force Core Values which are crucial to the success of the AFJROTC mission.”
This honor follows several prestigious recognitions recently earned by Etowah High School’s AFJROTC program. Lt. Col. Bergey is lead instructor for the program, which is supported by fellow instructor Technical Sgt. (Retired) Ciarra Malto.
The program, last school year, earned an overall unit assessment score of Exceeds Standards, the highest rating available. Only one time prior in its 27-year history has Etowah’s JROTC earned this elite score, which ranks the program in the top 12% worldwide. The accomplishment gave the program the opportunity to retain Honor Unit status for three years and to nominate five students a year for appointment consideration at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Lt. Col. Bergey also recently tapped to develop an Air Force National Championship for the JROTC Raider competition program, and the school was awarded a $10,000 drone with infrared capability and other special features.
CCSD offers military Junior ROTC citizenship, leadership and service programs at all of its traditional high schools. These Career Pathway classes and associated extra-curricular programs offer students valuable career and life skills.
“We’re deeply proud of Lt. Col. Bergey’s national recognition, which honors all he has done and continues to do to support our students,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “The AFJROTC program prepares students for successful careers in the Air Force, aviation and aerospace industries, and other related fields, but Lt. Col. Bergey’s lessons in leadership, teamwork and determination will help students no matter the career path they choose. This award recognizes him as the ‘Best of the Blue’ in the world, and we’re so thankful he’s a part of our CCSD family. Congratulations and thank you!”
The Cherokee County School Board and Dr. Hightower will recognize Lt. Col. Bergey at an upcoming School Board meeting.