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Following ALS class 11-B
Staff Sgt. Casey Jensen, 375th Force Support Squadron’s Airman Leadership School instructor, inspects a student’s uniform during an ABU inspection for class 11-B, Jan. 13, 2011 at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. During the 24 academic days Airmen spend at ALS they will have three uniform inspections, six tests and six writing assignments. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Teresa M. Jennings)
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Airman Leadership School takes Airmen to the next level

Posted 2/16/2011   Updated 2/16/2011 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Teresa M. Jennings
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

2/16/2011 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- To some, Airman Leadership School may simply seem like a six-week period where Airmen get a break from their regular jobs to sit and listen to someone talk about Air Force heritage, have uniform inspections and march around for a little while.
But ALS is much more than getting "re-blued" and marching around a drill pad--it's the first step in an enlisted member's Professional Military Education.

For ALS class 11-B, their first step in PME is now complete and its members are well on their way to becoming exemplary supervisors.

"ALS is our standard NCO supervisory training," said Master Sgt. Eric Matzek, CMSAF Bud Andrews ALS commandant. "It's where the students hone effective leadership, management, and communication skills, and become better Airmen."

Airmen attending ALS are new or future staff sergeants and spend 24 academic days learning the tools and skills to become effective NCOs and supervisors upon completion of the course.

"Prior to coming to ALS, I was incredibly nervous about supervising someone," said Staff Sgt. Lacey Erbe, class11-B leader and a member of the 375th Medical Support Squadron. "I didn't feel that I was ready, nor was I in the mindset to take on being an NCO. Now that I have attended ALS, I feel much more confident. I want to make a difference in my subordinates' lives. I want to be that one supervisor that they look back on and think, 'yeah, she had it together and she had my back.' I'm going to lead by example and I'm going to set the standards. I'm excited now to be a supervisor."

The ALS curriculum is composed of four graduate attributes: Military Professional, Expeditionary Airman, Supervisory Communicator, and Supervisor of Airmen. These focus areas are then broken down into 41 different lessons including Leader-Follower Dynamics, Warrior-Centered Conduct, Interpersonal Communication, and Change Management.

However, ALS is not limited to listening to lectures and reading assignments. Airmen are also required to complete six written assignments including two bullet writing assignments, a letter of recommendation, a letter of appreciation, a policy letter, and a letter of recommendation for a special duty. They will also have completed three public speaking briefs on their job, a topic of Air Force enlisted heritage and a foreign terrorist organization.

Additionally, they will be evaluated on drill performance, and complete three uniform inspections.

At the conclusion of ALS, Airmen will have taken a total of six tests--two on their first day, two during the course, and two final tests.

For the students, ALS can be very demanding of their time.

The free time they once had at the end of the duty day is now consumed by the next day's assigned readings, any homework assignments either given by the instructors or outlined in that night's reading requirements, and physical fitness training.
Teaching ALS is also just as demanding on the instructors' time.

"I have never had a more demanding job than teaching ALS," said Staff Sgt. Casey Jensen, ALS instructor. "Not only do the instructors need to know the teaching material, but they also have to read over the student's reading material and grade all assignments that are turned in."

But the instructors know the time they invest in their students is creating better NCOs.
"The one goal I have as an instructor for my students is for them to have learned and understand the material," said Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Zimmerman, ALS instructor. "Then take that material as their own and apply it to their jobs."

After graduating ALS, the students are sent back to their units to apply the new skills they've learned.

"As the commandant, the best part of my job is being a part of the impact that ALS has on an Airman, and watching the students grow and graduate as a class," said Sergeant Matzek. "I can't explain how awesome of a feeling it is to stand on stage with the wing commander and command chief presenting the students their diplomas--mission accomplished. It's an extremely proud moment for me, and my instructors."

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