Education center staff and faculty push their development, despite adversity

FRIENDSVILLE, Tenn. – U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the Air National Guard’s training and education center in East Tennessee did not stop their own personal and professional growth in the face of teleworking.

Leaders noted how the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center’s 80-plus staff and faculty enrolled in online learning. More than 30 Airmen joined recently in a 20-hour course entitled, “leadership engagement, increase communication and trust,” which included individual coaching sessions.

The course was offered to all TEC members — both military and civilians.

“Investing in this developmental opportunity is an initiative to promote our line of effort of ‘development of our people’ under our priority of ‘taking care of team TEC,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Kenneth Lozano, commander.

A majority of TEC staff and faculty are NCOs and senior NCOs assigned after years of experience in the regular Air Force, National Guard, and Reserve Command. The commander noted how finding the right professional development and self-development opportunities for a highly qualified and experienced group becomes challenging.

“Because of the nature of TEC, we also have Airmen from all Air Force specialties, which make finding a solution that serves our functional diversity even more complicated — but not impossible,” said Colonel Lozano. “Airmen engagement is a strategic end state for TEC. The investment in developing more engaged leaders through this course seems like the right solution to not only develop our staff but also to go after that.”

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Clarence Forster, education and training manager, scheduled the online learning, to include meeting apps. The coaching sessions, coupled with teachings on how to use coaching skills to lead more effectively, leverage diversity. He said that more Airmen enrolled than he expected.

“So far, I’ve enjoyed the course,” said Sergeant Forster. “Some of the material has been a refresher of skills I’ve already possessed, and other material has made me think of ways to implement it into my daily life and interactions with leaders and peers.”

Sergeant Forster arrived at the training and education center some years ago as a professional military education instructor for the Lankford Enlisted PME Center. He now oversees and organizes professional development opportunities for the staff and faculty.

“I feel that professional development beyond Airmen leadership school or NCO academy is essential,” he said. “Life, our society, and people are different, ever-changing or growing, and unpredictable … I would tell my former students that I hoped I instilled in them the idea that learning and growing never stops and to accept as many opportunities to develop because you never know what kind of impact you could have with the people that you cross paths with.”

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