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Instructor Spotlight: Isaac Strickland


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Instructor Spotlight: Isaac Strickland

By: Brian M. Jones

Instructor Spotlight: Isaac Strickland
Instructor Spotlight: Isaac Strickland

Instructors at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) undoubtedly know they are making a difference, but they may not get direct feedback after students move on as most trainees never vocalize their appreciation. It isn’t to say that there isn’t a great deal of gratitude for the impacts that are made which often lead to lifelong transformations, just the instructor may not hear from most of the students they inspire. At one-point, Senior Instructor Isaac Strickland was one of those students. He had a transformative experience at FLETC but doesn’t remember if he ever told the instructor how much one simple part of a lesson that instructor gave has influenced his life and career.  

Long before he worked at FLETC, Strickland was working for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Being a game warden for the DNR was something Strickland had dreamed of since he was a little boy. Spending most of his time outdoors, hunting and fishing, Strickland remembers seeing a game warden while he was out with his dad, and saying, “I’m gonna do that someday.” As a game warden Strickland’s duties were mostly within Bryan and Liberty Counties in southeastern Georgia, but he would go to other parts of the state as needed. In 2008, he had an opportunity to venture outside of his primary area of responsibility and attended the Marine Law Enforcement Training Program at FLETC.

The training was beneficial and supported his mission, but one of his instructors, FLETC Senior Instructor Jeff Dupont, shared a quote that left an indelible mark on Strickland that he cherishes to this day. Dupont shared the words of legendary football coach Lou Holtz that asserts, “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” This message means so much to Strickland that he shares it with every class he teaches. Not only does Strickland feel it helps guide the atmosphere of his classes, but it also influenced his own career and has changed the way he works, he knows that these words, “help keep everything in perspective.”

Perspective on life and the needs of his family motivated Strickland to make a change and he took a position with Armstrong University—now a part of Georgia Southern University—as a lieutenant on the campus police force. His time at Armstrong allowed Strickland to trade one childhood interest for another. Strickland always had an interest in technology, and he started training in cyber while working for the university. He spent a lot of time working in the lab doing digital forensics and at times when the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) would be back logged, Armstrong University’s lab would be able to process a lot of the work. In addition to the experience Strickland was gaining by working in the lab, the university paid for his education, and he received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. 

The ebbs and flows of life brought about another period of introspection for Strickland for he and his wife as they were facing increasing medical expenses to get treatment for their oldest son’s cystic fibrosis. Strickland was motivated to look for ways to best take care of his family. Blessings come in many shapes and sizes and when Strickland was hired by the Georgia Ports Authority in Savannah, it provided an answer for the needs of his family at a time they needed it most. 

Eventually, the job with the Georgia Ports Authority led Strickland to transfer from Savannah to Brunswick. Though he was just down the road from the FLETC Glynco Center, FLETC was not at the top of Strickland’s mind. Despite having applied, it had been some time since he submitted his application, and he was surprised when he got a call to see if he was still interested in the position. He was.

"Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. - Lou Holtz"
Lou Holtz Quote

Though he was very interested in the position, it did not come without a great deal of reservation. The offer was for a four-year term position and Strickland’s thoughts immediately went back to his family and that he could not risk being without in a job in such a short time. A FLETC instructor who Strickland had previously worked with at the DNR encouraged him to take the position and that he was more than capable to earn a permanent position within the four-year timeframe. 

Strickland proved himself an asset and in June 2016, he began his career at FLETC, where was able to put his technology interest and lab experience back to use. Teaching in the Cyber Division’s Technical Investigations Branch, Strickland gets a wide range of students with varying capabilities and skills coming through his classrooms. Students who came to his classes with barely any knowledge about computers left with more skills than they thought possible and would be able to incorporate the lessons they learned into their careers. Strickland doesn’t have to ask if he has made a difference, the regular calls he gets from past students telling him how he has impacted their lives delivers that answer. 

It is the same attitude that Strickland demonstrated in his commitment to his family, that has driven him to provide the identical level of care and attention to the students. Technical Investigations Branch Chief Tim Davis didn’t hesitate when he said that Strickland “is definitely in it for the right reasons. He is really quick to help and teach others and always does more than what he is asked.” He has become the embodiment of the esteemed words of Lou Holtz and the students clearly see the ability and motivation but most importantly the attitude.