FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
The Medical Education and Training Campus' Faculty, Staff, and Student Development section (FSSD) achieved a major milestone in fiscal year 2021 – a cost savings to the military of close to $14 million.
As part of their mission, the FSSD staff manages the Student Study Skills Program. The multi-faceted program was developed by Mr. Everett Ybarra and Mr. Lankla Ivory in 2011 with the purpose of helping struggling and failing students to achieve academic success.
“When METC first started, there were minimal resources to assist students when they began to struggle academically,” Ybarra stated. METC instructors receive minimal training regarding academic interventions – what to do when students fail academically. Ybarra, a credentialed multiple-subject educator, developed a study skills process specifically for METC students. “METC teaches at a very accelerated pace,” Ybarra added, “so Mr. Y’s Study System is designed to help students learn at the pace at which we teach, and it has been very successful.”
The FSSD staff has two academic intervention specialists, Ms. Iris Teasley and Ms. Victoria Berlmares. Both are trained to conduct one-on-one academic interventions with students who are experiencing academic issues. Instructors request assistance, and students are assigned a time and date to attend their meeting.
“Typical interventions take one to one-and-a-half hours, and we do an in-depth analysis on each student,” Teasley explained.
“We spend time often re-teaching Mr. Y’s Study System because students are not usually using it the way it is meant to be used,” added Belmares. “When we re-teach it, there is always an “ah-ha” moment when we can tell that the student ‘gets it,’ and that is very exciting.”
Ybarra also conducts interventions with English-as-a-second-language (ESL) learners. “ESL learners are usually very motivated and hard workers, but oftentimes they are translating in multiple languages which makes it difficult for them to keep up. Many have gaps in their command of the English language which compounds the issue,” stated Ybarra.
“The system helps them get ahead and stay ahead of their instructors if used properly. We have had a lot of success with ESL learners because, as stated, they are willing to work hard.”
The FSSD staff also has a corps of training instructors led by Ivory. Part of their job, Ivory said, is to teach Mr. Y’s Study System to METC students.
“We conduct different types of briefs to include initial briefs, small group briefs, and on-request briefs when requested by programs or instructors. Daily, our training instructors can be found all over the campus teaching ‘Mr. Y’s system,’ which keeps them busy,” said Ivory.
“It is hard to judge how many students we help because METC's average throughput is 16,500 students a year. Last year 13,000 received a brief on the study system. We cannot quantify how many applied the system and went through their programs with no issues. All we know is that we offer them a very effective system of learning at the beginning of their training that, when used properly, provides them an opportunity for academic success. We all take pride in providing that service.”
According to Ybarra, over 1,000 one-on-one interventions were conducted during FY-21. “Out of those struggling or failing students we sent 692 back to training who eventually graduated, which is an awesome accomplishment for our staff.” This accomplishment resulted in the significant cost savings.
“Although the cost savings is great, the real reward is when students return to thank us because we helped them graduate,” stated Ybarra. “Those are what we call ‘priceless moments,’ and that is what our staff is all about!”