The AGE schoolhouse provides an environment that encourages every student to achieve personal and professional excellence, providing them with the education, equipment and training to perform at their best. The school's instructors demonstrate commitment to their students by incorporating a system designed with performance safety nets every step of the way.
Both enlisted and civilian instructors (the majority being retired Air Force with a previous career in AGE) are required to go through extensive training. However, in addition to their depth of knowledge in the field, it is necessary for them to have the breadth of knowledge in counseling. "Many of the students have good mechanical skills and even understand mechanical theory, but they have trouble adjusting to this technical training environment," says Deynzer. "We have programs here on base that can enhance their academic skills which provides them the tools to succeed."
The Wing Learning and Development Center is an initial program that students are required to attend prior to entering any technical training school here on Sheppard. Four one-hour classes make up a curriculum to assist students with study skills, test anxiety, time management and stress management. And with the enviable class size of a maximum of twelve students, the instructors may also provide after class hours of one-on-one tutoring. Two primary philosophies emphasized regularly throughout the six month course of instruction are "review yesterday's notes, review today's notes, preview tomorrow's material" and the troubleshooting process ? Recognize, Verify, Analyze, Isolate and Repair" (RVAIR); just a simple reminder to the students on how to study and perform the tasks necessary for AGE maintenance.
THE ROAD TO OPPORTUNITY
The AGE schoolhouse has trained more than 4,000 AGE mechanics deployed worldwide. Though their main purpose is to support aircraft, there missions are omnifarious. "We call it Aerospace Ground Equipment but we support so much more," explains Farquharson. "We've got Air Force AGE mechanics deployed throughout the world supporting everything from radar sites and communication sites, bare base operations, as well as supporting remote operational locations. It's impressive where our folks can go at a moments notice."
While visiting the base, I had the opportunity to witness a graduation ceremony where students receive their AGE certificates and learn where they will be reassigned for their service in the field. There they will test and develop the skills they have acquired at Sheppard for two, three, perhaps five years, returning to the AGE school to progress to the upper level resident craftsman course.
Stepping out of their everyday "camo" fatigues into their crisp and dapper blue uniforms, these men and women deserve to take pride in what they have accomplished in a very short six months and what they have yet to accomplish in the days, months and years ahead. With Sheppard's AGE training and the Air Force's core values that include "Integrity First - doing the right thing when nobody's looking," "Service Before Self" and "Excellence in All We Do," these young men and women are given a once in a lifetime opportunity.