Joseph Merlo

Out of 77 school districts across a 12-county Central Texas area, Killeen ISD teacher Joseph Merlo was named Wednesday as the 2019 Secondary Teacher of the Year.

Merlo, a JROTC teacher at Ellison High School, was named Secondary Teacher of the Year by the Texas Education Agency’s Region 12 Education Service Center. Merlo was named Killeen ISD’s Secondary Teacher of the Year in May.

Based in Waco, Region 12 serves 77 school districts, 12 charters and private/parochial schools in Bell, Bosque, Coryell, Falls, Freestone, Hamilton, Hill, Lampasas, Limestone, McLennan, Mills and Navarro counties.

Before Lt. Col. Joseph Merlo began teaching and leading the Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or JROTC, in KISD 14 years ago, he served more than 20 years as an Army officer. Merlo is described as a teacher and a leader who works with students to ensure they grow emotionally as well as intellectually. Merlo’s teaching philosophy focuses on three pillars: be approachable, be consistent and be respectful. He believes that students respond to teachers with whom they can connect.

“I engage students by building lessons so that they are relevant and apply to each student, whether he or she will attend a top-tier university, a skills or certificate-based program or something in between,” Merlo said. “I believe students want to learn things they can apply in real life whenever possible.

Merlo also focuses on motivating young people to become better citizens through leadership and followership development. Instruction activities range from academic challenge and physical readiness, to social etiquette, to college enrollment. He also involves students at all levels of the program, so they experience real-world challenges.

Other achievements by Merlo include:

Selected as Killeen ISD 2018 Secondary Teacher and C.E. Ellison High School Teacher of the Year 2018.

Oversees one of the top-rated Junior ROTC programs of the 360 in the region and has held the highest possible rating for a JROTC unit, Honor Unit with Distinction as its leader for the past 14 years.

Rated as a JROTC Subject Matter Expert and leads best practices training through JROTC Instructor Seminars.

Selected from more than 800 instructors in the brigade as one of 12 Subject Matter Experts to assist with curriculum development for JROTC programs

Led students through a problem-solving process to increase student interest in extracurricular clubs and activities

Led the Ellison JROTC unit through its Program for Accreditation in 2017-18, earning the highest possible rating and Honor Unit with Distinction

Has served as a mentor to new JROTC Instructors

Merlo holds a bachelor and master degrees in business administration. He also completed advanced military studies at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

Killeen ISD Superintendent John Craft said, “Joseph is an incredible teacher who provides leadership and commitment to his students. He is an outstanding example of what a great teacher should be, and we are proud that Joseph is part of the Killeen Independent School District and serving our students.”

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