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PME instructors of today shape the leaders of tomorrow

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Professional military educators at Buckley Airman Leadership School have the difficult but rewarding job of training, guiding and shaping every Airmen coming through their door to become first-line supervisors.

A staff sergeant is the first NCO rank in the Air Force and has the responsibility of supervising, mentoring and training Airmen.

PME instructors are not strict, unemotional robots teaching from a podium. They are involved from the first to the last day, whether it's an early morning 3-mile run, a friendly class debate or doing pushups every break period to encourage a one-team mentality amongst students.

Flag ceremonies, evaluations and an open environment to engage in taboo subjects of discussion, PME leaders become part of the class and more knowledgeable about Buckley and its mission, despite holding the position of instructor or commandant.

"I enjoy meeting new people," said Staff Sgt. Valerie Baker-Wilson, 460th Force Support Squadron professional military educator. "Meeting everybody in different career fields around the base, I know more about what Buckley's mission is, based off of what the students share and what the students have brought to us. I learn something new about the base and about their career fields every class."

Lesson plans from the Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education have to be followed exactly. Instructors and the school house commandant must adhere to all regulations and standards of the Air Force to set the example. Even with these strict standards, PME instructors find ways to enhance an Airman's experience.

"We have the autonomy to basically add in our own parts in our attention steps and lessons," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Mechaley, 460th FSS professional military educator. "The Barnes Center allows us that freedom to basically develop lessons as long as we stay within certain guidelines. As far as the curriculum goes, I can't teach it from my interpretation. The book says it's this, and that's exactly what I have to teach the students, and that's the hardest part."

Lessons also include the wellbeing of an Airman's physical, mental, spiritual and social health, teaching Airmen how to identify markers of stress is one of the many challenges PME instructors have to face when teaching a flight.

Additionally, each Airman must learn how to incorporate many Air Force Instructions. Teaching Airman to write enlisted performance reports and how to march a flight is standard knowledge every NCO must have. The value of what Airmen are learning is seen in everyday situations when they return to their work centers stressing the importance of ALS.

"I hope that the effective objective for each lesson is that the student values it," said Master Sgt. Rebecca McKeever, 460th FSS ALS commandant. "Take it back to their units and apply it like they learned it, and that's the hardest part to get across, but that's the one you always want them to value- what you're teaching and what they are learning."

The ALS class is a total of 24 training days with 192 training hours geared toward an intensive curriculum. The class includes guided discussions, counseling techniques, drill and ceremonies, and learning a multitude of forms and regulations needed to be an effective supervisor.

Military members with every graduating class are better equipped to take on the responsibilities of becoming an NCO, displaying the hard work that Air Force professional military educator's put into each and every student walking out of their doors.
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