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Our 'Year of the Student' closes with accomplishments

Airmen hold reveille in the sunrise during Airman leadership school at the Chief Master Sergeant Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center, June 16, 2016, on McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Tenn. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

Airmen hold reveille in the sunrise during Airman leadership school at the Chief Master Sergeant Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center, June 16, 2016, on McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Tenn. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

LOUISVILLE, Tenn. --

The Chief Master Sgt. Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center ended the fiscal year that we set for ourselves as a “Year of the Student.”

We focused on the students that came through the EPME center and ensured that their academics were the best to our abilities. We also focused on the students’ quality of life. It brought about many changes.

We started on the look and feel of Morrisey Hall. We had 23 flight rooms that needed some upgrades, and an emphasis was placed on their white, cinder-block walls.

Each flight room received a make-over of blue and silver paint, wing-shield banners and inspirational sayings. The hallways received a new look with oversized posters of Airmen doing Airmen things ... or Airmen in action.

We created a student lounge for collaboration and study. We also created three collaboration areas, which allowed students a place for their group projects.

The building changed, which lead to a sense of pride and passion in the students and instructors. But it was not just the look and feel that changed the EPME center.

We looked at the student-to-instructor ratio and made sure that the number of students in a flight room was the right number for an instructor to lead. We purchased televisions and white boards to increase our presentation abilities. We focused on professional development that focused on teaching adults and adult learning theory. We changed graduation ceremonies so that they were a true celebration of the time students spent on campus.

The fiscal year brought about new initiatives.

A team of instructors worked with the Barnes Center for Enlisted Education at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.  They created the Course 00003 Airman Leadership School Discussion Guide. This guide now provides a better understanding of the course material for reserve component Airmen. Units in the field gave us good feedback on its success and use. We hope it helps many more individuals.

An EPME center team also created the Air Force's first Airman Leadership School Online Blended Learning Course. The course was just an idea at the fiscal year’s beginning. A concentrated effort and work completed by some amazing individuals brought it to life, including the first offering in July and a graduation in August.

In the fiscal year ahead, we look forward to transitioning a new curriculum for NCO academy called “ILE” ... or The Intermediate Learning Experience. The ILE provides NCOs knowledge put into practice on the leadership skills they learned in Course 15. It also puts NCOs into situations that cultivate their leadership.

As to Airman leadership school we have four BLCs and six in-residence courses on our schedule. We will train more than 1,100 Airmen and provide each a quality experience.

When I look back on the fiscal year I know that the EPME center team put forth an effort that embodies what we teach. We put students first and foremost, and we made sure we did everything we could to ensure the Air Force’s future success.

(Chief Walden is assigned as the 14th commandant of the Chief Master Sergeant Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center as well as the senior enlisted leader of the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center in Louisville, Tenn.)