CLEARFIELD -- After a 16-year career in the Air Force, Kit Workman has spent the past 16 years as a mentor to kids.
Workman was recently recognized as the Utah Air Force Association's Teacher of the Year and was recognized by the Air Force as an Outstanding Instructor with merit.
The AFA and the Air Force recognize outstanding teachers in the areas of math, science and aerospace. Workman, a Junior ROTC instructor at Clearfield High School, began his teaching career shortly after he retired from the Air Force in 1995.
"I really didn't expect to win," Workman said of his award. "But it's always an honor to be recognized by the Air Force."
In the JROTC program, Workman teaches sciences of flight, U.S. history with an emphasis on the role of the military and aviation, and space exploration.
He also coaches the JROTC Armed Drill Team, the marksmanship team and the CyberPatriot team.
All three teams are top-ranked in the state. The CyberPatriot team won last year's national cyber defense competition and finished third in the nation this year.
"He's an excellent teacher," said Workman's principal at Clearfield, Suzi Jensen. "He donates an incredible amount of time outside of his contract hours. He's taken our JROTC program to a whole new level."
Workman said it has taken time and effort on his students' part to build up the JROTC program to what it is today.
"The kids have put in an awful lot of work," he said. "As the years have passed along, there have been a lot more opportunities in the program, and kids have taken advantage of that."
Workman said he strives to help his students raise their individual bars and find their own paths to achievement while working within a team scenario.
"My ROTC instructor was a great mentor of mine up until he died a few years ago, and I strive to have that same kind of influence," Workman said. "Hopefully, I can inspire the kids to do their best and be their best."
Workman said he has had several students move on to productive careers inside and outside of the military.
Last year, one of Workman's former students, Kyle Palmer, graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy.
"The greatest reward I can think of is when you see that spark in a kid," he said. "Then three or four years later they come back and say, 'Look what I am doing now.' That's the pinnacle for me."