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116th troops graduate from satellite academy

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Robins Air Force Base, Ga -- The first class of 116th troops graduated from the Satellite Non-Commissioned Officer Academy on June 1 at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Knoxville, Tenn. 

These six graduates are different than most others because they spent most of their class time more than 300 miles away from their instructor. In these classes the students and the instructors communicate through a satellite broadcast. 

The class was headed by three facilitators one of which was Master Sgt. Alicia Cline of the 116th ACW Education and Training Office. The academy allows NCOs to get training without being removed from the work place for an extended period of time. 

"A lot of our personnel work full-time jobs that don't allow them the opportunity to be away from their job for six weeks," said Sergeant Cline. "It's great that we're able to provide another option for them to complete their Professional Military Education." 

The class is broadcast from McGhee Tyson by instructors there while NCOs watch the broadcast with a facilitator at Robins Air Force Base. 

"Normally the instructors come on and introduce a lesson and then I facilitate the lesson by leading the classroom discussion, and it's just as if our folks are attending the In-resident NCO Academy," said Sergeant Cline. 

One of the beneficiaries of this new option was Tech. Sgt. Michael Spano of the 116th Communications Squadron. Sergeant Spano was one of 15 nation wide distinguished graduates in class. 

"The satellite courses are an excellent opportunity to get in resident professional military education for people who can't afford to take the in-residence course," said Sergeant Spano. 

The satellite courses are 14 weeks long and include 12 weeks at Robins and 2 weeks at McGhee Tyson. 

"It was a tough course but I would recommend the satellite course before taking the correspondence course because you get in-residence credit for the satellite course," said Sergeant Spano. 

The class is more convenient for NCOs who can't afford to leave their jobs for an extended period of time but it also demanded a lot from technical sergeants. 

"It was a relaxed environment but it was challenging to manage work, studying and home life," said Sergeant Spano. 

The satellite course which is expanding to include Airmen Leadership School which began in May is something that is needed to deal with the current state of NCO Academies. 

"A lot of the academies are closing," said Sergeant Cline. "I believe the Satellite PME option will become more popular in the future." 

The NCO Academy will most likely begin classes again in February. Those interested in getting more information on Satellite PME Programs should contact their Unit Training Managers for eligibility criteria and application instructions for the Satellite NCO Academy. Active Duty, ANG, and Reserve personnel are eligible to apply.