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Air University announces selectees for the Air Education and Training Command’s Educator of the Year awards

  • Published
  • By Greg Sharpe
  • Air University Communications & Outreach

MAXWELL AFB, Alabama -- Air University announced the 2022 selectees for the Air Education and Training Command’s (AETC) Educator of the Year awards 7 November 2022.

The award recognizes individual faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to AETC’s education mission during the academic year for teaching excellence, and the scholarship of discovery, integration and application. Within the scholarship of discover, Air University (AU) faculty spend a great deal of time creating knowledge, connecting that knowledge and teaching students through the application of knowledge. 

Each year, AU leadership nominates and recognizes officer, enlisted and civilian faculty for this prestigious major command award for their incredible support to education and develop Air, Space, and Cyberspace warrior leaders in support of the National Defense Strategy. 

AU faculty provide the full spectrum of Air Force education, encompassing pre-commissioning programs for new officers; graduate programs in specialized military disciplines; progressive, career-long professional military development for officer, enlisted, and civilian Airmen; and specialized programs for US cabinet appointees, senior executive service civilians, and general officers.

Please join Air University in congratulating our 2022 AETC Educators of the Year!



AETC Educator of the Year
Officer Category
Colonel Kathryn Cantu
Ira C. Eaker Center for Leadership Development

Colonel Kathryn Cantu receives the 2022 AETC Educator of the year award, officer category.

Col. Cantu was recognized this year for her work as an instructor in the Leader Development Course for Squadron Command (LDC). She worked with fellow military and civilian instructors to create LDC unique connections, content, delivery, and environments, resulting in a deeper affective and effective growth experience for officers, enlisted, civilians, and spouses. In this role, she delivered this experience for hundreds of leaders approaching their command selection, enabling them to sharpen and focus their human domain leadership skills and to inspire and equip them to thrive in command. She has inspired the next set of Air and Space Force Commanders with over 384 hours of human domain leadership skills elevating the LDC to new heights in leader development. Her expertise was the right choice to re-imagine commanders' courses for five Air Force Major Commands across the Department of the Air Force, leading to over 16 hours of world class leadership lessons that enhanced 630 leaders for command readiness. 

Cantu has reinvested her leadership skills in LDC course enhancements to ensure an additional 1900+ future squadron commanders can be readied for command. She not only teaches leadership skills to students, she applies these traits directly to the organization, dual hatting her instructor duties by taking on the Director of Operations role. Applying a vast array of visionary coaching, student and instructor professional development approaches and improvements Cantu has installed next-level DAF leadership development prominence in LDC’s important role within Air University and across the Air Force.  



AETC Educator of the Year
Enlisted Category
Senior Master Sgt. Candace James
Ira C. Eaker Center for Leadership Development

Senior Master Sergeant James receives the 2022 AETC Educator of the year award in the enlisted category.

Senior Master Sgt. James is an instructor at the USAF First Sergeant Academy.  As the First Sergeant Academy’s number 1 instructor, she led 7 flights, teaching over 300 hours in 28 weeks to certify 84 new Air Force First Sergeants.  She regularly cultivates distinguished graduates from her courses developing enlisted leaders that excel both inside and outside the classroom to drive improved leadership acumen. James regularly leverages her experience and perspectives to drive diversity and inclusion growth within this critical career field that will be responsible for taking care of our future Airmen. Her amazing confidence allowed her to facilitate the preparation of 77 Majors and Lt Cols to bridge first sergeant responsibilities and development with their command roles. James teamed with various agencies, within the DOD to facilitate, revise and revamp resiliency based leadership programs, held orientations, and prepared stakeholders in critical life skill, integrated perspectives that has had an impact Air Force wide. Developing a “Hold the Line” brand she linked over 2,500 total force first sergeant together using social media. Her immense passion for ensuring the development of future first sergeant translated an updated course syllabus from senior leadership action orders. James decreased the manning shortage by interviewing, training, and evaluating 2 new academy instructors raising the by 25% to take on developing 641 future first sergeants.



AETC Educator of the Year
Civilian Category
Dr. Amy Baxter
Global College of Professional Military Education

Dr. Amy Baxter receives the 2022 AETC Educator of the year award in the civilian category.

Dr. Amy Baxter is the research director for the Global College of Professional Military Education.  As Air University’s Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) go to expert, she was selected as a D&I subject matter expert to present a Diversity & Group Performance lecture at the US Army’s Strategic Leader Symposium 22 to 87 Army officers.  As the research director she regularly guides students toward publication on Air Force Chief of Staff prioritized research topics as well as developing research awards for faculty scholarship program.  Dr. Baxter leads multi-faceted presentations, lectures, workshops and course activities that modernize programs, provides advice on improvements and guidance for strategic diversity and military resiliency efforts.  She is continuously tapped to provide her insights, teach students, advise military leaders and conduct initiatives that ultimately resulted in her selection to lead the CSAF-Prioritized Resiliency Task Force.   Exceeding all Joint PME targets, Dr. Baxter continues her excellence in writing and reviewing research papers and overseeing GCPME research program for faculty, reviewing over 270 research papers that resulted in 8 research award winning papers. Dr. Baxter was also selected as a judge in the National Defense University’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff essay competition reviewing 97 national security research papers that received 9 awards.  She champions faculty development across 12 AU schools as the president of the AU Faculty senate, and expertly infused faculty development workshops with current topics that promote scholarship with the senate’s 25 members, representing over 300 faculty. A global education leader, Dr. Baxter is called on regularly to educate and guide organizations across the DOD as well as over 100 nations to advise, modernize and produce innovative solutions for D&I and resiliency programs.