Expeditionary teaching enables educational excellence

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. John Gordinier
  • 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Students in a meteorology class take their seats here and pull out their homework to turn in to the instructor May 23. Within a few minutes, the instructor enters the classroom wearing a common uniform in a deployed environment: Air Force physical training gear.

Maj. Gregory Fox, 332nd Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron Combat Weather Flight commander, is teaching the first Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University class here.

"As I was at lunch one day at the dining facility here, I noticed an ERAU banner so I stopped at the Blackjack Education Center here and talked to (Trish Spring) who was looking for ERAU teachers," said Major Fox, a resident of Colorado deployed here from Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. "I volunteered because I considered it an amazing opportunity to be able to teach a college class in a combat zone; besides, I also enjoy teaching."

Ms. Spring, one of Major Fox's students and assistant director of academic support for the Iraq-Balad Campus, said the university seeks instructors from every branch of service, as well as civilians, in theater and for 130 worldwide campuses. Qualifications to teach are a master's degree in the academic discipline and complementary experience in the field.

"We value the experience of our instructors; many in fact are retired officers, generals and other expert alumni in the aviation and aerospace field," she said.

"I'm teaching meteorology I, which is a course about 'atmospheric science that includes applications to flight,'" said Major Fox. "The course counts as one of the required physical and life science electives."

Overall, the course instructs students on a systematic development of: thermal patterns, atmospheric moisture, horizontal and vertical pressure patterns, clouds, atmospheric circulation, local winds, stability, air masses, fronts, fog, icing, thunderstorms, jet streams, and turbulence. Students will study and make use of surface-weather observations, surface maps, and constant-pressure maps.

"I am enjoying the class greatly, especially the opportunity to study under a career Air Force major with extensive experience in the area of study," Ms. Spring said.

"Major Fox is awesome," added the Salem, Ore., native deployed here from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. "His knowledge, combined with real-life experience from his current job, is amazing. He is confident with an easy-going approach. He makes learning fun, and I appreciate his willingness to understand the needs of our students, who are studying abroad and remain dedicated to their duties here in Iraq."

By and large, the major feels the same way about his students.

"I have enjoyed instructing the course because they've (students) read the material ahead of time, are prepared to learn, and actively participate in the class," he said. "I've got some really great students."

As the class ends, the students and instructor leave the education center and return to their mission - supporting OIF.