Information Systems Technician (IT) 1st Class (IDW/EXW) Shanta McPherson, a native of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, is an IT “C” and “F” school instructor and course supervisor at Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Virginia Beach.
As part of the Center for Information Warfare Training (CIWT), IWTC Virginia Beach is one of four commands within the information warfare community’s training arm, in addition to detachments and learning sites. IWTC Virginia Beach is located at Naval Air Station Oceana Dam Neck Annex and provides a continuum of training to Navy and joint service personnel that prepares them to conduct information warfare across the full spectrum of military operations.
In July, the command’s name changed from Center for Information Dominance Unit Hampton Roads, as part of a response to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson's Jan. 5 release of "A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority." The document emphasizes "information IN warfare" and "information AS warfare" and demands the delivery of information warfare as a critical capability of the Navy's mission sets.
McPherson, as part of the training team at IWTC Virginia Beach, became master training specialist (MTS) certified in 2015.
She joined the Navy in 2007. Her past assignments include Explosive Ordnance Disposal Expeditionary Support Unit 2 and Assault Craft Unit 2.
McPherson answered questions about being an instructor with the CIWT public affairs office in August 2016.
Q: What is your current training position?
A: The “C” school I currently teach is Information Systems Technician System Administration. I provide journeyman-level training to Navy enlisted rating personnel in the paygrades E3 to E8 to prepare them for assignments to the cybersecurity workforce as systems administrators.
I am also the course supervisor and “F” school instructor of the Commercial Broadband Satellite Program (CBSP) Unit Level Variant/Force Level Variant (ULV/FLV) Operator Course. I provide ITs in paygrades E3 to E8 serving aboard ships with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively operate the AN/USC-69(V)3 Unit Level Variant and AN/USC-69(V)2 Force Level Variant Commercial Broadband Satellite Program (CBSP) systems during all conditions of readiness, with limited supervision. As the course supervisor, my duties and responsibilities are to formally train, evaluate, and provide direct supervision of assigned instructors.
Q: How long did it take to achieve MTS certification?
A: It took me almost 13 months after I became instructor-certified. I hate to consider myself a perfectionist, but failing was not an option. I did not want to disappoint those who mentored me. It seemed like I would never get the nerve to schedule my board, so my department MTS coordinator did it for me. I remain grateful that she did.
Q: What does it mean to you to be an MTS?
A: Being a master training specialist is like being a superstar on a sports team. We are all a part of the team, but the MTS possesses highly effective skills and has an extensive understanding of their area of expertise. Those skills and knowledge should show every time an MTS-qualified instructor is on podium. Our abilities should enhance the learning process for students, and we should be leaders and mentors to the other instructors.
Q: Why is having an MTS-designated instructor important to training?
A: MTS-designated instructors are vital during the preparation, delivery, and evaluation of training. When changes to training are necessary or a new skill or equipment is introduced into the fleet, specific training requirements will either be created or eliminated. MTS-designated instructors are assigned to validate the course prior to final submission for approval. After approval, we perform maintenance and assess the content within the course materials.
Q: How does being taught by an MTS benefit students?
A: The Navy is diverse, and so are our students. We all come from varied backgrounds, with different experiences. MTS instructors understand students have different learning styles, so in order to effectively assist students, MTS instructors incorporate different instructional methods to remove barriers to learning before they can adversely affect a student’s training.
Q: What dramatic difference do you see being MTS-designated, with you, with your students?
A: I have more fun now. My confidence has grown as an instructor. When students become discouraged, I know how to use multiple motivation techniques to keep their interest alive. I try to make my class more enjoyable. I ask for volunteers to read, I ask several oral questions during lessons, and I always add in a few comical sea stories.
My confidence increases the students’ desire to learn. Communication and feedback in the classroom has improved. My students enter class with positive attitudes, and I like to think I have something to do with that.
Q: Would you recommend others to be trained as an MTS?
A: I highly recommend anyone eligible to become MTS-qualified, not just for the professional benefits, but also to learn valuable skills that can be applied outside of the work environment. Parents can identify their children’s learning style and apply different instructional methods to assist children with schoolwork. Coaches can use motivational techniques to give praise, rewards, and inspire their teams. People can even practice using the communication process with relatives to see how effective their family communicates.
See what the Center for Information Warfare Training is all about, visit www.navy.mil/local/cid/, www.netc.navy.mil/centers/ciwt, www.facebook.com/NavyCIWT, or www.twitter.com/NavyCIWT.