Guard Educators' Symposium enlightens Denver teacher, administrators

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Colorado Air National Guard recently held an Educators' Symposium here to inform local area educators about the military way of life and what they have to offer anyone that is interested in joining.

"Our aim was to raise the level of awareness about who the (Guard) is, what we do, and what makes us as an organization, so unique and valuable," said Master Sgt. Miguel Rodriguez, production recruiter COANG.

Additionally, the event also enlightened educators about the educational benefits and the technical training citizen Airmen receive as members of the Guard.

"The more educators know about the COANG, the more able they are to answer questions for their students," said Sergeant Rodriguez. "These are the type of efforts that knock down those walls."

The Guard also wanted the educators to see how they are a contributing, integral and inseparable part of the community, according to Sergeant Rodriguez.

We wanted to raise the level of awareness, and to clarify the mysteries and dispel the myths of the Guard, he said.

"We also wanted to educate the attendees on our vital role not only in national defense, but just as importantly, as trusted stewards and protectors of Colorado's most precious resources, its citizens," said Sergeant Rodriguez.

The Colorado Air National Guard holds an Employer Day every year to raise employers' level of awareness about the COANG, he said.

"Hosting such an event for educators is rooted in the same spirit," Sergeant Rodriguez said. "Educators clearly influence students."

The day consisted of eating breakfast at the dining facility; briefings, including a motivating speech from Brig. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, 140th Wing commander, testimonials from COANG members about being deployed, getting an education, and other experiences with the Guard; and an orientation flight on a KC-135 Stratotanker for a mission to refuel F-16s.

Ms. Julie Haeflinger, a counselor at Gateway High School, was unfamiliar with the Guard, their mission and their actual job before the symposium, she said.

"If I was 10 years younger, I would have signed up on the spot," she said.

She said it was surprising what education benefits they get, and that it is great that people can serve and receive such good benefits.

"The work that is done by such dedicated professionals left me awestruck and enthralled," said Susan Metzler, a counselor at Universal High School. "I am always 100 percent supportive."

After lunch the guests were invited to an orientation flight on a KC-135 Stratotanker during a mission to refuel F-16 Fighting Falcons.

"I cannot possibly articulate how excited I was to walk into the KC-135, chat with the boom operator, see the F-16 pilots, and return to base in the cockpit talking and listening to the pilots," said Ms. Metzler. "It is still vivid in my mind's eye. I was on a 'high' for days. I told everyone who'd listen about the flight and the entire day."

"The event was a resounding success," said Sgt. Rodriguez.