CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Teachers and staff from Clovis, Portales and Melrose schools participated in Teachers Understanding Deployment Operations aimed to educate them on the challenges deploying military members face, here, Sept. 14, 2019.
TUDOS is designed to give teachers a comprehensive understanding of the deployment cycle of Cannon’s Air Commandos, and what a child might experience throughout the time their parent or parents are absent.
“I think TUDOS is a great way to build the bridge between our communities and our base,” said Col. Robert Masaitis, 27th Special Operations Wing commander. “It’s important for our kids to have allies in the classrooms. Having teachers that understand deployments helps our students so much more.”
To start the day off, the teachers were brought onto base and given a welcome brief by Masaitis. After that, multiple guest speakers openly discussed the reality of families and how deployments affect them.
“Seeing it through the spouse’s and children’s eyes gave us a window to view how we can truly support the students,” said Phillip Lemke, Gattis Middle School assistant principal. “The military is so intricate and integral to this area and we need to know how to care for our students. Learning about what they’re going through is integral to make sure we can really care for them.”
From there, the tour was split into groups and went across Cannon for multiple activities. One of the first was experiencing flight simulations with members of the 551st Special Operations Squadron. Teachers were put into the pilot’s seat and given a chance to bear the burden of a full aircraft.
“The events have been very enlightening,” said Jim Haley, Clovis Christian Schools superintendent. “It lets us see all the training Cannon has to go through and the diverse jobs that the Air Force has. The variety of things we got to see showed that families here face a wide variety of unique issues and we need to learn how to take care of the kids in different ways.”
Military Working Dog teams held demonstrations to show their capabilities and share their own experiences while deployed. They answered questions not only as MWD handlers, but as Airmen that face the difficulties of deploying. The educators got the chance to meet with pilots at static displays of each aircraft Cannon houses. They were then given a tour at the air traffic control tower, to understand the high-operational tempo of Cannon.
“It’s awe-inspiring to see all this stuff,” Lenke said. “When you drive by the base every day, you don’t think about what’s going on in there. After seeing all this, it drives us to push our kids so they can get a chance to do these amazing things. Getting to experience everything that Cannon’s people have to go through really puts into perspective how strenuous it can be on the families. I got to fly a plane in a simulator and even while being told what to do was enough to make me sweat. I can’t imagine the reality of it all. Even when they aren’t deployed, the families are going to face stress.”
To wrap up the tour, the educators went through a coining ceremony. Each team lead awarded the teachers with a TUDOS challenge coin, to commemorate the end of their tour.
“The program is very valuable for the schools and administrators,” Haley said. “It makes it so we can meet the full needs of the child. Spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally, making sure these needs are met is more important than any writing or arithmetic. You have to make sure the child is ready to learn. TUDOS helps us make sure Cannon’s kids can learn.”