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Vosler NCOA graduates first students in new course

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Forrest L. Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy students brainstorm a response to one of their fellow students questions during their working group presentations at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., April 6, 2016. The Vosler NCOA students came together from 14 different bases and nine Major Commands to attend NCOA to continue their leadership and management skill development for future senior NCO ranks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Forrest L. Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy students brainstorm a response to one of their fellow students questions during their working group presentations at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., April 6, 2016. The Vosler NCOA students came together from 14 different bases and nine Major Commands to attend NCOA to continue their leadership and management skill development for future senior NCO ranks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Tech Sgt. Lloyd Kelly, 92nd Communications Squadron at Fairchild AFB, Washington, and Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy graduate, presents his final speech before graduating the academy at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., April 11, 2012. The Vosler NCOA graduated 96 students through the new Intermediate Leadership Experience course on April 12, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Tech Sgt. Lloyd Kelly, 92nd Communications Squadron at Fairchild AFB, Washington, and Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy graduate, presents his final speech before graduating the academy at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., April 11, 2012. The Vosler NCOA graduated 96 students through the new Intermediate Leadership Experience course on April 12, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Forrest L. Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy students conduct their outgoing presentations before their graduation at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., April 11, 2016. The 96 technical sergeants came from 14 different bases and nine Major Commands to continue their leadership and management training following their completion of Course 15. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Forrest L. Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy students conduct their outgoing presentations before their graduation at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., April 11, 2016. The 96 technical sergeants came from 14 different bases and nine Major Commands to continue their leadership and management training following their completion of Course 15. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, COLO. – The Forrest L. Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy graduated 96 technical sergeants who went through the NCOA’s first class of the new program Intermediate Leadership Experience course at the Peterson Air Force Base Club on April 12, 2016. The Vosler NCOA is the third NCOA to implement the new course and hosted technical sergeants from 14 bases and nine Major Commands. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, COLO. – The Forrest L. Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy graduated 96 technical sergeants who went through the NCOA’s first class of the new program Intermediate Leadership Experience course at the Peterson Air Force Base Club on April 12, 2016. The Vosler NCOA is the third NCOA to implement the new course and hosted technical sergeants from 14 bases and nine Major Commands. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.- Tech. Sgt. Megan Schmidt, 18th Cadet Squadron, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado, and Forrest L. Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy class leader and distinguished graduate, presents the American Flag during the class graduation at the Peterson Air Force Base Club April 12, 2016. Schmidt and 95 other students from 14 different bases and nine Major Commands attended and graduated Vosler NCOA’s first class through the new Intermediate Leadership Experience course. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.- Tech. Sgt. Megan Schmidt, 18th Cadet Squadron, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado, and Forrest L. Vosler Noncommissioned Officer Academy class leader and distinguished graduate, presents the American Flag during the class graduation at the Peterson Air Force Base Club April 12, 2016. Schmidt and 95 other students from 14 different bases and nine Major Commands attended and graduated Vosler NCOA’s first class through the new Intermediate Leadership Experience course. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- After five weeks, the Forrest L. Volser Noncommissioned Officer Academy graduated 96 technical sergeants from the Academy's first Intermediate Leadership Experience course on April 12.

For the last five weeks, NCOs from 14 bases and nine Major Commands honed their leadership and management skills through the new ILE course. They received vital instruction and feedback from their instructors and peers to better prepare them for NCO and future Senior NCO leadership responsibilities.

"I do truly believe that this delivery of the institutional competencies, when it comes to our enlisted core values, leadership influence, ethical leadership and all the skills we want our NCOs to exhibit under daily operations in this vehicle we call the ILE, is the best as far as I have seen," said Master Sgt. Wichard Ho, Vosler NCOA superintendent of faculty development. "The students do a lot of self-discovery and self-awareness. Ultimately, the more they learn about their strengths and weaknesses, the better they can go out there and lead. They will know what they need to work on and what they should maintain to keep pushing forward acting on some of their weaknesses. That on its own, I believe, will truly help our technical sergeants move into those senior leadership roles that they are working so hard to reach."

The new course pushed the students to demonstrate leadership skills in a practical environment. Compared to the legacy course, the ILE is less of a lesson than test-based course.

"Overall I was actually surprised how they used the group modules and projects to cement the concepts for us and to really understand the practical applications, which I think is really the best way to teach someone," said Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Rice, 367th Training Squadron at Hill AFB, Utah, and the Vosler NCOA John L. Levitow award winner. "How else can you teach somebody leadership behaviors without having us practically apply it? And that's what they did."

Throughout the course, the students grew together. They recognized and developed their own and each other's strengths and weakness through past experiences. They were able to reflect on the experiences, and how they can implement the skills learned through ILE in their Air Force career.

"A leadership skill that I learned here was a deliberate development plan," said Tech. Sgt. Megan Schmidt, 18th Cadet Squadron at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado, and Vosler NCOA class leader and distinguished graduate.

Schmidt created a deliberate development plan on a former Airman; she discovered the Airman could possibly still be in the Air Force if given a deliberate development plan and proper guidance.

Coming from various career fields and work centers, the NCOs experience levels varied across the board. The instructors primarily observed, providing some instruction. But ultimately the student determined the value of the material, said Ho.

"We delivered the lesson principles but every single student had their own journey to discover what affected them the most," he said.

To Rice, the most rewarding aspect was being given a group project at the beginning of course with little experience or instruction. Then by the end of the course the students knew what they were doing and felt confident in their answers. 

"Getting to see us do a presentation up on the stage and execute all of it and see it go flawlessly, in our opinion that was pretty cool," said Rice.

"I know there are people who are apprehensive about going to NCOA, five weeks is a lot of time to be out of your work center and the busy Air Force that it is today. Just come into this with an open mind and know everybody has something to learn especially about being a leader," said Schmidt.  "That's all that we are growing to be as technical sergeants, new or old, you're never going to stop learning about how to be a leader. This is a great opportunity to develop yourself and make your Air Force career what you want it to be."

With the ever growing Air Force, NCOA offers NCOs opportunities to grow professionally in their overall leadership and management skills for current and future responsibilities. The in-residence ILE course is available to those who have completed Course 15 and are between six and 12 years of service.

Awards recipients for Class 16-3 were as follows:

John L Levitow:

Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Rice (Hill AFB)

Commandants Award:

Tech. Sgt. Alejandro Torres (Schriever AFB)

Distinguished Graduates:

Tech. Sgt. Dannielle Lewis (Schriever AFB)
Tech. Sgt. David Novelo (Luke AFB)
Tech. Sgt. Alejandro Torres (Schriever AFB)
Tech. Sgt. Ryan Wilkinson (Ellsworth AFB)
Tech. Sgt. Megan Schmidt (USAF Academy)
Tech. Sgt. William Colley (Fairchild AFB)
Tech. Sgt. Michael Miranda (McChord AFB)
Tech. Sgt. Christopher Phillips (Ellsworth AFB)

Academic Achievement Award:
Tech. Sgt. John-Michael Reinhardt.

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