JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
The Faculty Student and Staff Development program, or FSSD, is a service tailored to the development of student success for Medical Education and Training Campus trainees who are struggling with their academics.
Created by Everett Ybarra and Lankla Ivory, FSSD is its own academic department located in the METC footprint since the campus stood up in 2010 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
Alongside Ybarra and Ivory, the program consists of two academic intervention specialists, Iris Teasly and Victoria Belmares, and training instructors who are instrumental in getting students help when they fall behind or are failing classes.
Described as an accelerated curriculum, courses at METC are not like traditional college classes.
METC offers 48 allied health programs that are fast-paced, hybrid classes that challenge students to process large amounts of material within a short timeframe.
“Learning to be an emergency medical technician) in the civilian world usually takes 6 months, but students at our campus do it in 6 weeks,” Ybarra said. “To be a civilian cardiopulmonary tech it takes 1 ½ to 2 years, but our students are doing it in six months.”
Originally known as Faculty and Staff Development, the FSSD program was initially responsible for supporting instructors and staff.
Shortly after nearly all enlisted medical training co-located to METC and the campus became fully operational, the program quickly began catering to student success.
The change came about after Ybarra received a phone call from a concerned parent whose child was in danger of being separated from the military if they did not pass their EMT exam. By referencing the Visual Audial Read/Write Kinesthetic, or VARK, questionnaire, Ybarra discovered the student’s learning style.
As a result, “Mr. Y’s Learning System” was created and is now taught to all incoming METC students. The study system encourages students to see, feel and hear the material that they are learning. The three main tools consist of highlighters, a spiral notebook and flashcards.
“Ninety percent of our students are kinesthetic learners,” Ybarra said. “They are very smart but arrive with poor study skills because they didn’t have to study two to three hours per day in high school. We teach the learning system but it is their choice to use it.”
Urging students to highlight objectives in orange, bolded words in blue, definitions in yellow and testable information in pink, Mr. Y’s Learning System teaches students how to study and prep for tests.
Along with other pointers such as chucking material and rote memory, the study system teaches students to not highlight their whole book while studying. He also recommends students create a practice test study guide and develop test questions from objectives and key materials found in the book.
Ybarra also tells students to listen closely to instructors when they mention phrases such as “you’re going to want to remember this” or “this is really important.”
Ybarra, a former public school teacher, also emphasizes success with his learning system involving second language learners and international students whose first language isn’t English.
Recently, he was able to influence a former teacher from Ghana who is now a student in the U.S. Navy Hospital Basic Corpsman program. He was failing due to gaps in his understanding of the English language.
“As I was teaching him Mr. Y’s Study System, you could tell when he ’got it.’ He became very excited about my system and asked me if I could teach it to students in Ghana,” Ybarra said.
By retaining students who might have failed out of their training, the FSSD department has saved METC and the individual military services approximately $36 million dollars over the past four fiscal years. Although the number is impressive, the FSSD staff is inspired by student success.
"We take pride in helping students graduate and continue their careers," Ybarra said. “My thanks go out to my team who brings their game every day.”