An ALS instructor guiding the next generation

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Aubree Owens
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs

“When I entered the military in 2007, I was young and was a bit of a slow learner,” he said. “I was one of those students who wasn’t exposed to anything in the military besides doing my job as a pharmacy technician, and it wasn’t until ALS that I experienced more that broadened my understanding of the Air Force.”

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. William Meadows Marquez, an instructor at Airman Leadership School, Andersen AFB, went through ALS at Travis AFB, California, in 2012 and became an instructor here in 2018. Although it had only been six years since he went from student to instructor, significant changes were made to the curriculum and overall mindset of the course.

“Something I took away as a student of ALS was that everyone was there to learn, communicate and validate one another for what’s ahead,” he said. “I didn’t know what was ahead of me in my military career, but going through ALS gave me the ‘I can do this’ mentality; I don’t know how good I’ll be, but I know I can give it a shot.”

The five week course is designed to be an entry level leadership enhancement course to prepare Senior Airmen for positions of greater responsibility by strengthening their ability to lead, follow, and manage while also broadening their understanding on their role within the Air Force. Professional development within the Air Force is constantly changing, as is the culture of the force as a whole.

Meadows Marquez has been an instructor here for the past three years, teaching and mentoring more than 200 Airmen directly through 18 different classes.

 “With Tech. Sgt. Meadows as my instructor at ALS, there was a lot that I learned walking out of the class,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Niccolo’ Pufall, an air traffic controller with the 36th Contingency Response Squadron. “Of everything he taught me, though, I think the biggest thing I took away is the ability to recognize that my history and my lifestyle is not the only way it’s done. This was something that I knew in the back of my mind, but had difficulty fully realizing it until Tech. Sgt. Meadows taught it in ALS and provided hands-on experience and examples for me to pull and learn from.”

The course covers five main topics: leadership, culture, problem solving, mission and emerging issues. Within these lessons, the instructors touch on how to present information in a clear and concise manner, managing interpersonal relations between members and their subordinates, and accessing resources to assist Airmen in the best possible manner amongst many other important lessons.

The ALS curriculum has seen many changes throughout the past decades, or even more recently, in 2019 tests were removed and replaced with capstones without grades.

“The shift from tests to facilitated lectures was done to keep students from only remembering the information for a test and then dumping it. With facilitated conversation the information is remembered therefore, useable once the Airmen graduate and return to their units,'' said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Bekki Swank, the commandant of ALS, Andersen AFB.

The curriculum shifts continuously in order to stay in alignment with the National Defense Strategy. Members from the ALS instructing team continuously seek guidance and updates for their curriculum to ensure they are teaching the most updated material and lessons.

“It’s hard to teach when you don’t know where you want to go,” Meadows Marquez said. “After learning the lesson and figuring out how I wanted to deliver it, my goal for each class was to be as human as possible, and to show each of my students that it’s okay not to be perfect. I try to be patient, to be a good person and to show them that it’s okay to be themselves.”

As the Air Force continues to evolve and grow the leaders of the next generation, so does the curriculum for professional military education such as ALS.

“We strive to stay current as changes continue to come down to the curriculum,” Swank said. “This allows us to keep producing ready Airmen for 2030 and beyond that are well-rounded and ready to take on a more strategic role.”