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Salem Native is Naval Education and Training Command’s Military Instructor of The Year

Salem, Virginia native and a 2000 graduate of Salem High School was announced as the 2021 Military Instructor of the Year (MIOY) in the senior enlisted category for Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) at a ceremony onboard Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, March 30.

Senior Chief Musician Christopher Sams serves as head of academics and leading chief petty officer at the Naval School of Music (SOM) located aboard Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Sams was one of hundreds of sailors who competed for the title of NETC MIOY, representing the top achievers from a pool of more than 10,000 military instructors at over 1,640 subordinate activities, sites, districts, stations, and detachments throughout the world. Sams received a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his achievements.

“I really can’t say enough good things about the Navy, Marine Corps and civilian staff who serve at the Naval School of Music,” said Sams. “They are some of the most talented professionals I’ve ever worked with and are exceptional people as well. There is a high standard set for our students in order to prepare them for the Fleet, and it is truly an honor to be a part of this team!”

Sams is part of the team that plays a vital role in developing the military musician. SOM instructors are carefully screened and chosen from the top performers in Navy and Marine Corps ensembles. Most SOM instructors hold degrees from universities and music conservatories. All prospective trainers undergo an intense instructor appraisal and are approved by the commanding officer prior to assignment.

At SOM, Sams teaches six subjects in the Basic Musician Course, Unit Leader Course, and Advanced Musician Course. Sams is also a qualified Master Training Specialist.

Sams is an honor graduate of the Basic Music, Unit Leader and Senior Musician Courses at the Naval School of Music. Sams is also a dean’s list graduate of the Senior Enlisted Academy.

In the roles of head of academics and leading chief petty officer at SOM, Sams led and managed an instructional staff of 21 Navy, Marine Corps, and civilian instructors in the delivery of 5,429 total hours of instruction to 164 students this year. As a course supervisor and curriculum development lead, he led a team of instructors and staff through a full curriculum revision and course pilot of the Advanced Musician Course.

NETC Commander Rear Adm. Pete Garvin congratulates the finalist for thier roles in developing the Navy’s future aviation force and for his contributions to the mission.

“The Instructors of the Year program recognizes enlisted and officers who demonstrate signature qualities like sustained superior performance, inspirational leadership and strong mentorship,” said Garvin. “They share their passion for our storied military history and proud heritage. They are always improving themselves, involved in their commands and their local communities, and of course have excellent military bearing.”

Sams is married and has three sons and is the son of Craig and Debbie Sams of Salem, Virginia.

“Growing up, both of my parents and my band director, Dennis Reaser, had a great influence on my love of music,” said Sams. I can’t thank my family enough for all of the love, support and encouragement they’ve given me throughout my life.”

The NETC MIOY program recognize Sailors throughout the NETC domain who exhibit attributes, such as sustained superior performance, leadership, mentorship, knowledge and teaching of military history and heritage, self-improvement, command and community involvement, and exemplary military bearing.

“The winners of NETC’s military instructor of the year competition are leaders and role models for their shipmates and their students,” said Garvin. “Each of them has a critical role in training our next generation of military personnel to fight and win our nation’s wars. Fleet readiness does in fact begin with them.”

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