JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
A language instructor and a research psychologist who work at Joint Base San Antonio are both hoping an opportunity to participate in an Air Force civilian educational development program will help broaden their perspective of the Air Force and enhance their careers in the civilian workforce.
Kristin Baer, Defense Language Institute English Language Center instructor at JBSA-Lackland, and Dr. James Johnson, Air Force Personnel Center personnel research psychologist at JBSA-Randolph, are two of 24 Department of Defense civilians at JBSA who have been selected to the Civilian Acculturation and Leadership Training program.
CALT is a two-week program which prepares Air Force civilians for future leadership, managerial and supervisory roles by focusing on the Air Force culture and mission, and the role leaders play in the Air Force’s overall success, said Maj. Mathew Carter, Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
Courses for CALT are held at Maxwell AFB and consist of seven two-week classes annually. CALT is open to Air Force civilians with two to five years of federal civil service, who have a bachelor’s degree and who do not have any prior military service or professional military education.
Baer said she applied to the CALT program because she wants to learn more about the Air Force culture and its expectations as well as to better understand the needs of the foreign students she teaches English to at the DLIELC.
“The military side is new for me, which is why I think CALT will be beneficial,” she said. “It is understanding my own role as a civilian in the Air Force. Some of the students I am training are going to professional military training courses in the U.S. I think it will help me understand what their follow-on training experiences will be like and what the expectations are when they are integrated with American military personnel.”
Baer has been an instructor at the DLIELC for four years. Since graduating from college in 2004, she has been teaching English to international students, including a year in France and for several universities and companies in Dallas.
Her career goal is to take on a supervisory position at the language institute.
“I want to become a supervisor later on and understanding the Air Force culture will help me achieve it,” Baer said. “From my understanding, CALT is preparing us to be better leaders. Having leadership skills will benefit the unit and the people who I am training, the international students, and will help me better understand their U.S. military follow-on training.”
Johnson said the CALT program was recommended to him by his supervisor, Dr. Laura Barron, AFPC senior personnel research psychologist, because of the program’s emphasis on the Air Force culture, history and mission.
By participating in CALT, Johnson said it will help him understand the needs of Air Force enlisted members and officers he works with better. He helps develop cognitive and non-cognitive tests and works on projects, including assessing job fit and vocational interest of both enlisted Airmen and officers.
“The better I can understand and internalize the Air Force culture and history, it will help me do a better job of communicating with them on what their needs are and what their goals are for their career field,” Johnson said.
Johnson came to AFPC two years ago, soon after earning his doctorate in psychology from the University of Oklahoma. Since he is a civilian with no military experience, Johnson said he has been able to learn some things about the Air Force through experiences on the job.
He said he is willing to learn more about the Air Force to help further his career and learn more about the history and culture of the organization he is working for.
“I think at this point in my career, I’m just an open book,” Johnson said. “I would like to absorb as much as possible. In turn that will help me be more effective at my job.”
Each year, 182 students are selected for and go through CALT, Carter said. Air Force civilians who are selected to the program must obtain the recommendation of their supervisor and the endorsement of their group commander.
Carter said students who go through CALT will participate in team-building exercises, outdoor activities, simulation exercises and health and wellness activities to help maintain their physical fitness. The program will include outside reading and projects and cover various topics and skills utilized in the Air Force.
“The areas of instruction are leadership studies, communication skills, profession of arms, warfare studies and war gaming, and international security studies,” Carter said. “The course will benefit the participants by acculturating them to the Air Force and providing them with the necessary tools to become leaders in the Air Force.”