An educational pilot program developed for the Delaware Air National Guard has been so successful, it’s being expanded.
In partnership with Delaware Tech, the community college offers convenient, on-site classes at the New Castle base for airmen working towards a Community College of the Air Force associate in applied science degree. The Air Force is the only branch of the military that offers an associate degree to its members, a prerequisite now for promotion.
“We’re happy to have built this educational partnership with Delaware Tech,” said Col. Mike Feeley, commander of the 166th Airlift Wing. “We plan to continue it because it gives us the local resources and support we need to better develop our most important resource, our airmen.”
Lt. Col. Pat Pollock is the officer who initially reached out to Delaware Tech about the educational partnership. “What we saw was an opportunity to help our airmen… and help them progress personally and professionally and that was a key driver to make this event happen.”
The airman’s military experience counts toward the associate degree, “and then there’s a series of five courses that they have to take under general education to complete their education experience,” Pollock said, explaining an accredited community college must teach those courses.
That’s where Delaware Tech steps in. The five courses include written communication, oral communication, math, social science and language.
Delaware Tech offered the speech class last fall and will add psychology during the spring semester, which fulfills the social science requirement.
“Delaware Tech is committed to our veterans,” said Dr. Frances Leach, Delaware Tech’s assistant director for the Stanton/Wilmington campus.
Expanding on a model the community college uses in high schools where high school teachers teach Delaware Tech’s courses under the guidance of one of their instructors, Leach thought that would be a good fit to meet the Delaware Air National Guard’s needs.
“When Lt. Col. Pollock came to speak to me about how important it would be to offer courses on-site because of the convenience and time management for his troops, I thought that that would be a good model that we could replicate.”
The Community College of the Air Force’s mission is to offer enlisted members degrees it says enhances mission readiness, contributes to recruiting and helps with retention.
A total of 382 Delaware ANG members have earned CCAF associate degrees since 1976, 226 of which have been awarded in the last 10 years.