Major helps guide deployed Airmen through academic journey

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jeremy Larlee
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
There are few things more frustrating in academics than struggling to find an answer or to understand a theory. The journey to find the answer can be quite antagonizing for students as they work through a problem.

The struggle becomes worth it when they finally find the answer, as there is nothing quite as rewarding as finding the solution.

This is a journey Maj. Jim Dorn, the 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron commander, helps Airmen traverse during weekly tutoring Algebra sessions he hosts.

"I find it extremely satisfying to see the light bulb go on for somebody," he said. "When they finally get something that they have been struggling with you can tell by the facial expressions how happy it makes them."

Major Dorn said his reason for holding the tutoring sessions stems from a promise he made to a former squadron superintendent who helped him enter the Bootstrap program to be an officer.

"I promised to help people get their degrees any time I had the opportunity," Major Dorn said. "I did the same thing when I was stationed here in 2006. I tutored six people who were trying to (complete) an algebra course and all six of them passed."

Master Sgt. Scott Neu, the 380th Expeditionary Logistics Squadron vehicle operations superintendent, is one of the Airmen that Major Dorn currently is tutoring. He said that the major's assistance has been integral to his completing the course work.

"If it wasn't for Major Dorn I wouldn't be passing my class right now," Sergeant Neu said. "It's been a long time since I have been in school. I have been one class short of a Community College of the Air Force Degree for eight years and it has been a math class that I have put off."

The sergeant said that not having a CCAF degree could prevent him from being promoted and the help he gets from the major is helping him extend his career. He said Major Dorn has a knack for presenting the material in an interesting manner and that he has a good sense of humor that keeps the tutoring sessions fresh.

The major said that while it is great that technology allows Airmen to take courses in a deployed situation, that sometimes old fashioned face-to-face instruction is a preferable way to learn new material.

"When you are taking an online course in the desert, if you don't understand something, e-mail is not the best way to learn something like math," he said. "With the tutoring sessions I can answer a question in person when they are stuck. It just works better."

Major Dorn said that he feels his tutoring sessions are a great example of Airmen taking care of Airmen, and he hopes other Air Force leaders will consider doing the same thing.

"I'd like to see other officers and military members with degrees throw their name in the hat and pitch in as well," he said. "I think as an officer you need to lead your Airmen through their personal goals as well as the mission goals."

To find out about opportunities to become a tutor or receive tutoring contact your local education center.