Being a senior NCO in charge of a unit or a superintendent is one thing, but to be a senior NCO of Airman Leadership School and responsible for the future leaders of the U.S. Air Force is a completely different challenge all together.
Master Sgt. Sheris Poisson, 56th Force Support Squadron ALS commandant, takes this challenge to heart.
“I come from a family that believes in serving a higher purpose and broadening horizons,” Poisson said. “So when I started researching military service, the Air Force really stuck out as the right path for me for a number of reasons. I wanted to serve my country, continue my education and travel the world.”
Poisson has reached many of her goals over the course of her career ranging from travel to fitness.
“This year makes 20 years of service with a total of seven assignments, both overseas and stateside,” Poisson said. “I’ve worked everywhere from base level to headquarters, I’ve earned multiple degrees and visited most of the continents except for Africa and Australia. I hope to be able to go to Africa and Australia as well.
She also has met fitness goals and regularly runs marathons.
“My greatest accomplishment is ensuring I leave a legacy for junior Airmen to follow,” she said, “for them to become the leaders the Air Force needs: ready, willing and committed.”
She has had many challenges throughout her life as well.
“In 2007, I was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer,” Poisson said. “The experience was tough, and I went through many obstacles and trials, but what was amazing about that experience is that I can share my story to help others.”
Recently she ran into a woman who was diagnosed with cancer and has been helping her through the process as well.
“To be that living example that having cancer doesn’t mean your life will end, being able to share those experiences and comfort someone who is going through the same thing, to me is an amazing experience for which I am grateful,” Poisson said.
Poisson is happy where she is as the ALS commandant.
“It’s a humbling experience,” she said. “I feel a huge responsibility to ensure the Airmen we train today will become the leaders who will replace me and my fellow instructors.”
Her fellow instructors have shown a lot of respect for Poisson.
“Poisson is a great mentor,” said Staff Sgt. Jaysen Basu, 56th FSS flight instructor. “She knows how to take care of the ALS students and cadre. She hears us out on any issues and tries to help solve problems that face the students and instructors. She’s very proactive and takes leadership very seriously.”
Being an instructor is not easy, but it is rewarding in its own way, according to Poisson.
“Anyone who wants to pursue the instructor position should do so,” she said. “I say do it whole-heartedly and be prepared to sacrifice time.”
Poisson advises Airmen to stay true to the core values.
“Airmen should always be prepared,” she said. “Remember to thank those who got you where you are and stay humble. Have the courage to do the right thing at all times regardless of who is involved or what the situation may be.”