CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Teachers and staff from Clovis, Portales, and Melrose schools participated in an event aimed to educate them on the challenges deploying military members face, here, Sept. 8, 2018
The Teachers Understanding Deployment Operations program allowed teachers face-to-face interaction with military members to better understand the deployment process. This, in turn, enables them to better aid children with deployed parents.
Col. Stew Hammons, 27th Special Operations Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Hope Skibitsky, 27th SOW command chief, began the program by explaining Cannon’s world-wide mission to the teachers.
“We’re doing Tudos to help connect the teachers that are educating the children of our military members to better understand what they do as military members,” said Hammons. “Whether that’s working in garrison here, going on a temporary duty in the states, or deploying. The more the teachers understand, the more they understand what our children are going through.”
Other members of the Cannon briefed the educators, from active duty to spouses. They shared their experiences, and how teachers truly helped their children as a support system when a parent was deployed. Military children then went up, and gave insight on what they go through when a parent is away from home, to give teachers a first-person perspective.
“I think the TUDOS program is phenomenal,” said Rebekah Mitchell, Portales High School teacher. “It was great seeing Col. Hammon’s passion for education. It felt like an invitation to the community work with Cannon. And hearing the stories from everyone really gave insight on a perspective that I never even thought was there.”
After the briefings, Mary Zuercher, 27th Special Operations Wing Families Overcoming Stress resilience trainer, and Carly Daniel, 27th Special Operations Wing community programs and peer network coordinator, had the teachers partake in exercises about how to help a student cope with their feeling and endure the stress of a deployed guardian. At the end, Sara Williams, 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron school liaison officer, briefed the educators on the tour around base to show Cannon’s capabilities.
The tour led to the Air Traffic Control tower, where the visitors got to look out over the airfield, and were briefed on what goes into directing Cannon’s aircraft. They got to go out on the catwalk, and check out a simulation on how busy an airfield can be.
From there, the tour brought Cannon’s visitors to the 33rd Special Operations Squadron building to test out a remotely-piloted aircraft simulator. Teachers were put in the seats to see what it is like to be an operator of a RPA, and the work that goes into it.
While in the building, they took a lunch break where they were provided Meal, Ready-to-Eat, or MRE’s, to see what Air Commandos in the field have to eat.
“The simulations were phenomenal in my opinion,” said Mitchell. “They show how much precision really goes into all the work done on base. It was eye opening actually. The spaghetti in the MRE wasn’t bad either.”
At the base operations building, the 27th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron held a military working dog expo, where they experienced Cannon’s ability to keep the community safe. Cannon also provided static displays of each of the wing’s aircraft and subject-matter experts to help them understand the aircrafts’ capabilities.
“TUDOS really gives you an appreciation for what’s on the base,” said Tori Teague, Barry Elementary School principal. “It is impressive to see how much goes into every job, seeing how organized and technical everything is. You can tell that everyone is educated and qualified.”
“I think it’s an amazing insight on military life,” said Teague. “I don’t know a lot about military life, but it makes me excited to collaborate with Cannon Air Force Base to make sure the kids get the most out of their education. This experience has been amazing. It gives a whole new understanding to Cannon.”
TUDOS brought educators from the local area to not only help them understand how Cannon works, and what a deployment is like. The teachers are shown an insider perspective so that when they have a military child, than can understand what they are going through and know how to support them.