Ramstein ALS's First Army Instructor

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Olivia Sampson
  • 86 Airlift Wing Public Affairs

McElfresh’s military journey was marked by a mix of challenges and triumphs, each experience shaping her into the leader she is today. From deciphering protocols during chemical attacks to leading reconnaissance missions in Hawaii, she navigated through diverse environments.

It was her unexpected transition to the role of an instructor at Ramstein Airman Leadership School that reshaped her trajectory and newfound passion for teaching, and made her the first Soldier to teach an ALS class.

“Sgt. First Class McElfresh was the obvious selection for this opportunity, after she was awarded 2023 Instructor of the Year at the 7th Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy,” said Master Sgt. Nathan Ryan, Ramstein ALS commandant. “The leadership of Ramstein ALS had long toyed with the idea of incorporating a joint instructor. When word of her dedication to excellence reached our schoolhouse, we knew that now was the time to execute this vision.”

Arriving at ALS in Kapaun Air Station, Germany, McElfresh found herself in uncharted territory. Amidst the unfamiliarity, McElfresh discovered a sense of purpose she hadn't anticipated.

"I never imagined I'd end up teaching,” said McElfresh. “I was always the quiet one, not seeking the spotlight."

Yet, as McElfresh settled into her new role, teaching ALS Class 24-4 from April 15 to May 16, 2024, she found fulfillment in guiding and inspiring the next generation of military leaders.

"Transitioning from combat to education wasn't easy," said McElfresh. "I had to navigate a new world of teaching and mentorship. Unlike the rigid structures I was used to, ALS fostered lively discussions and encouraged individual expression."

Adapting to the Air Force classroom dynamics at the schoolhouse was one of McElfresh's biggest adjustments. McElfresh found joy in this collaborative learning atmosphere, recognizing the value of exchanging ideas and active engagement in the learning process.

“Almost immediately, Sgt. 1st Class McElfresh became a part of the family amongst our cadre,” said Master Sgt. Ryan, “Amongst the students, she brought an unparalleled outlook to one of the most crucial curriculum outcomes at Ramstein ALS: Joint Warfighting. With very little preparation time, she had no problem picking up an Air Force lesson plan and delivering it with nothing short of quality, resulting in countless praises from students long after graduation. Ramstein ALS is proud of her achievements and thankful for her contribution to the development of our Cadre and future Non Commissioned Officer’s.”

McElfresh’s dedication to her students shines through as she reflects on her time as an instructor. She hopes to inspire others to embrace change and pursue their passions with courage and conviction.

"I take pride in witnessing the growth and development of my students," McElfresh said. "From instilling confidence to fostering critical thinking skills, it's rewarding to see them flourish."

As she leaves her current assignment she does so with a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.

"Though my path may have been winding and unpredictable,” McElfresh said, “I remain committed to service and the pursuit of excellence.”

For McElfresh, the journey from Soldier to educator has been transformative. Switching from the operational to the front lines of the classroom, she has embraced the challenge with humility and dedication to leave a lasting impact on all those she encounters. Through her experiences, McElfresh has learned the resilience and adaptability that defines the military ethos.