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AMC, civic leaders discuss education initiatives at Phoenix Rally

AMC Civic leaders speak at a panel during AMC's Phoenix Rally.

Air Mobility Command civic leaders speak at a panel at AMC’s 2018 Spring Phoenix Rally, April 27, 2018, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The civic leadership panel serves to facilitate dialogue between military and civilian leaders; this year they focused on how the Air Force can engage local school children with science and technology initiatives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tara Stetler)

AMC civic leaders speak during AMC's Phoenix Rally.

Cynthia Lloyd, founder and CEO of Science and Citizens Organized for Purpose and Exploration, speaks at Air Mobility Command’s 2018 Spring Phoenix Rally civic leadership panel, April 27, 2018, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Lloyd emphasized the importance of the Air Force engaging local school children with science and technology programs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tara Stetler)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --

Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, Air Mobility Command commander, held a civic leader panel during AMC’s biannual Phoenix Rally summit here April 27.

The panel enabled open communication among the mobility air forces and community leaders with a focus on issues affecting Mobility Airmen today. Improving military family readiness, and the impact on retaining Airmen in the service, was at the forefront of the discussion.

“Family readiness is interconnected with military readiness,” said Everhart. “We’re working hard to address issues such as professional license reciprocity and improvement to education for military families. Central to both is strong community support. It is important that communities understand the impact that military service can have on Air Force families and ways communities can offer support.”

Dr. Cynthia Doil, Scott AFB school liaison officer, joined the discussion as a subject matter expert who explained how installation leaders could integrate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics initiatives into their base activities.

Doil shared how the Scott AFB STEM Advisory Group sponsors activities around the community to advance STEM literacy.  She also discussed how installations can request Department of Defense STEM funding for their outreach programs.

Many civic leaders and commanders expressed their concern about the inability for military spouses to effectively transfer their professional certifications once the service member moves to another state.

The school liaison officer encouraged commanders and civic leaders to help decision makers understand the impact to military families and Air Force retention when license reciprocity is not granted.

“This is about providing military families a pathway to education and career goals, not just for the service member, but also for their spouse,” said Cynthia Lloyd, an AMC civic leader from the Scott AFB area.

Another challenge Air Force families face is the lack of high-performing schools surrounding some base communities. Everhart stressed upcoming initiatives to help improve local education and inspire the next generation of Airmen.

Air Mobility Command Public Affairs is working with key civic and military stakeholders to bring enhanced understanding to military family education needs, to include increased efforts to incorporate military bands and the arts, adding an ‘A’ to traditional STEM initiatives

“We’re looking to increase partnerships with area schools via a more robust Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics program,” said Everhart. “It is important to help educators better understand what we’re all about and what our Airmen offer our nation in terms of expertise and experiences. By strengthening these relationships, we will help generate increased discussion and create opportunities for education improvements in AMC communities.”

Dr. Rhonda Sauget, an AMC civic leader, discussed how Scott Air Force Base Airmen partner with local schools to encourage students to pursue STEM-related career fields. Sauget also shared how four schools in the eastern suburbs of St. Louis teamed up to provide STEAM summer camps for students.

The programs include aviation camp and a flight simulator camp, allowing local students to experience the STEAM activities throughout the summer as well.     

“Going out into the schools and seeing our initiatives really energizing the students, that really is a fantastic thing,” said Sauget.

Air Mobility Command is also looking at access into schools while creating opportunities to help communities understand military family educational needs.

“In order to bring about positive improvements and strengthen partnerships with schools, we’re looking to complement local education while introducing more age-appropriate events for students, to include getting our military bands into schools more consistently,” said Col. Christopher Karns, Director of AMC Public Affairs. “Highlighting the arts as well as the hope and relief elements of the AMC mission will help people understand the Air Force’s versatility and role beyond kinetic operations. It also creates unique opportunities to help educators better understand military family needs and experiences.   

Air Mobility Command bands performed in 47 different schools in the month of March alone. In April, the command hosted a group of civic leaders at MacDill AFB, Florida, The guests represented communities supporting AMC mission sets, to include individuals with a strong background in educational programs. The event included discussion about military family education experiences and suggested areas for improvement within AMC communities. 

Lloyd, a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math, or STEAM advocate who coordinates military and industry involvement in STEAM events throughout St. Louis, emphasized how important it is for all groups to work together to enhance educational experiences and create breakthrough moments.

“During the space race, four key aspects of our country came together to cooperate and the result was that we went to the moon,” said Lloyd. “By coordinating industry, civics, government and education, we can identify the pathway to success and get there much faster.”