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NEWS | Feb. 25, 2014

ALS Instructor: Developing the leader that shapes the future

By Airman 1st Class Victoria H. Taylor 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The moment a trainee steps off the bus at Basic Military Training, they are introduced to the U.S. Air Force's core values. From airman to senior noncommissioned officer, enlisted Service members are developed to reflect excellence. But behind every excellent Airman is an exceptional Professional Military Instructor who taught them.

Airman Leadership School is a five-week long course designed to develop Airmen into effective front-line supervisors. As the first professional military education enlisted Service members encounter, a lot of responsibility falls onto the shoulders of the instructor who is expected to teach and develop students into the leaders of the future.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Aimee Orndorff, 633rd Force Support Squadron PME instructor, wanted to have a significant influence on the Air Force and felt becoming an educator was the best way to encourage Airmen to build a better military.

"I saw teaching as an opportunity to impact the Air Force on a bigger level," said Orndorff. "I wanted to play a major part in developing Airmen into becoming the supervisors young Airmen deserve."

Senior Airmen with at least 48 months of service, or those with a promotion line number for staff sergeant, undergo the course to learn leadership skills in critical thinking, analysis and effective communication. The course prepares students to begin the next step in their military career as an NCO.

Orndorff said that much like a first sergeant, an educator is expected to wear multiple hats. An instructor assists students with issues ranging from learning disabilities and personal problems to a wide array of unplanned events that happen while on duty.

"The title of an ALS instructor can be deceiving; the label is simple in comparison to what the job entails," said Orndorff. "Not only am I an instructor, but I am also a counselor, mentor and tutor."

During the four-year tour as an ALS instructor, educators are expected to cover material on combat leadership, military professionalism, supervision, verbal and written communication and group dynamics, all while focusing on the Air Force's core values.

"Although challenging at times, it's an amazing feeling to be a part of an Airman's growth and development. I learn just as much from the students as they learn from me," said Orndorff. "By branching out, I have learned about myself and the dynamics of other organizations on the installation, and that knowledge has helped me develop my own personal leadership style and better teach other Airmen."

Upon completion of ALS, students has prove they are committed to integrity, service and excellence. The graduate has developed the ability to write performance reports, speak effectively, and counsel subordinates which enables them to then supervise.

"Once the five weeks is completed and our students graduated, my job as an instructor is far from over," said Orndorff. "Our ALS team gets together and discusses things that could be improved."

Instructors use the short break of about two weeks between classes to exchange ideas about grading, handling student misconduct and how to improve teaching methods and approaches to ensure the program is the best it can be.

"Being an educator pushes me to be better," said Orndorff. "It drives me to lead by example and to teach Airmen to be exceptional in everything they do."