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Naval School of Music Announces 2016 Sailor and Instructors of the Year

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Naval School of Music (NAVSOM) in Virginia Beach named its selections for Sailor of the Year (SOY) and Senior, Mid-Grade and Junior Enlisted Military Instructors of the Year (MIOY) for 2016 at an All-Hands awards ceremony on Oct. 27.

The SOY was French horn instructor Petty Officer 1st Class Nicholas Nadal. MIOYs were Chief Petty Officer Gresh Laing for Senior Enlisted MIOY, Petty Officer 1st Class Nicholas Nadal for Mid-grade MIOY and Marine Staff Sgt. Mardia Tompo for Junior MIOY. 

Nadal received noteworthy recognition by being awarded both SOY and MIOY for the command. "It is an absolute joy to watch PO1 Nadal teach! He truly knows how to diagnose a student's performance barriers and quickly apply corrective measures," stated Lt. Hill, Training Officer at NAVSOM. 

In addition, Nadal competed and was selected for the Center for Service Support (CSS) SOY. Attending a selection board in Newport, RI, Nadal was chosen by the CSS board from peers at the other Learning Sites reporting to CSS. Recognized throughout the command as a team player, Nadal's dedication to duty and personal involvement in command functions significantly contributed to the welfare and training of his students and the overall mission of NAVSOM. Nadal will now advance to the 2016 Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) Sailor of the Year competition to again compete among a group of outstanding Sailors.

"Serving as a Navy musician has been extremely rewarding," Nadal said. "In all my years as a professional musician, I have never felt such an impact on audiences as I do now. I consider myself very fortunate to blend my desire to serve and my passion for music by serving in the United States Navy. Often times, I represent the Navy to audiences worldwide and it is an honor to do so."

Laing, awarded NAVSOM's Senior Enlisted MIOY, was also selected at the CSS level and will compete for the 2016 NETC Instructor of the Year. "In 1999 I told my mother exactly why I wanted to join the Navy: 'I want to see the world and play the Saxophone'", said Laing. "The Navy has never disappointed me. Although I joined to travel, I have developed a deep passion for taking care of Sailors and providing mission ready bands for worldwide engagements. I am humbled every day to serve our Sailor musicians and strive to always provide them the leadership they deserve."

Laing, a native of Wheeling West, VA, is the Head of the Rehearsal Division as well as the Command Managed Equal Opportunity Coordinator, the Drug and Alcohol Program Advisor and the Senior Watch Officer. A true team-builder, he guided six staff members through completion of multiple instructor certifications for small ensembles, enabling them to fill manning shortages. "Chief Laing is one of the most dynamic and engaging instructors that I have seen. Not only is he a fantastic musician, but he has a genuine desire to pass on what he knows to the next generation of military musicians," stated Hill.

Staff Sgt. Tompo, the Junior Enlisted MIOY, was also selected for NAVSOM and CSS levels and will compete at NETC. Said Hill, "Staff Sgt. Tompo's passion for music and teaching inspires and motivates her students to excel. She holds high standards for herself and her students alike."

A native of Grapevine, TX, Tompo attended college at Oklahoma State University before entering the Marine Corps. "Having the opportunity to teach Sailors and Marines at the Naval School of Music has proved to be a challenging and rewarding experience," stated Tompo. "I love having a unique relationship with each of my students, which allows me to push them further than the expectations they have for themselves. In return, I have developed a lot more patience and innovative approaches towards instruction."

Senior Chief Petty Officer Jonathan Ward coordinated the NAVSOM boards. "It is a pleasure to work with such high quality Navy and Marine Corps instructors here at the Naval School of Music," said Ward. "After looking at each package and conducting the MIOY Boards, it just reemphasized how good our instructors are. Our Military Instructors of the Year are outstanding and truly understand how to motivate and inspire students."

"The 2016 CSS Domain Sailor and Military Instructor of the Year boards were conducted in October of 2016, in Newport, Rhode Island," stated Senior Chief Petty Officer Byard, head of the CSS selection board. "Over 20 packages from across the CSS Domain were reviewed and graded by the CSS Headquarters Chief's Mess. We are extremely pleased and grateful for the contributions that our Sailors and Marines made during the last year. The competition was very close at all levels. This year the Naval School of Music was the pacesetter. They won 2 of the 4 categories in the MIOY category, with one runner-up and netted the Domain Sailor of the Year. It was truly an honor to chair the MIOY Board and be a member of the SOY Board. Our Sailors and Marines across the CSS Domain continue to be the standard flag bearer for excellence in training. Congratulations to all winners and nominees."

The Naval School of Music provides specialized military and musical training for Sailors and Marines teaching both basic and advanced skill sets in order to ensure the best music support at sea and ashore, at home and abroad. The Naval School of Music plays a vital role in today's armed forces and its graduates go on to become musical ambassadors on ships and stations throughout the world. 

For more news from Naval School of Music, visit https://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/css/som/ or https://www.facebook.com/Naval-School-of-Music-149006086094/

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