Joseph Merlo of C.E. Ellison High School in KISD is the Secondary Teacher of the Year.

 In Killeen

Before Col. Joseph Merlo began teaching and leading the Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) in KISD 14 years ago, he served 20+ years in the United States Army 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 they can connect with.

“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/certificate-based program or something in between,” said Merlo. “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.


  • 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 of Science in Business Administration. He also completed advanced military studies at the US Army Command and General Staff College. ESC Region 12 will recognize Joseph Merlo at a luncheon later this summer.

About ESC Region 12

Education Service Center Region 12 focuses on helping schools save money and leverage resources into the classroom. One of 20 regional education service centers statewide, ESC Region 12 offers training and expert assistance to educators and school personnel in order to increase student achievement. ESC Region 12 offers effective, economical programs and services through professional development, expert assistance, direct services and alternative educator certification.