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Nashville District lauds Supervisory Training Program graduates

Nashville District Public Affairs
Published Dec. 3, 2019
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District's 2019 Supervisory Training Program class graduated during a ceremony Dec. 3, 2019 at the district's headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. STP is a nine-month program where the participants share experiences and learn the core skills required to successfully manage the workforce and develop as a leader. From left to right are Frank Mills, Dylan Grissom, Myles Barton, Ryan Johnson, Stephanie Coleman, Bryan Mangrum, Chris Marshall, Kayl Kite, Cynthia Lightner, William Terry, David Bogema, Ryan Frye, Gerald Lee, and Lt. Col. Sonny B. Avichal, Nashville District commander. Graduates not pictured include Jamie James, Jason Phillips and Isaac Taylor. (USACE photo by Lee Roberts)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District's 2019 Supervisory Training Program class graduated during a ceremony Dec. 3, 2019 at the district's headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. STP is a nine-month program where the participants share experiences and learn the core skills required to successfully manage the workforce and develop as a leader. From left to right are Frank Mills, Dylan Grissom, Myles Barton, Ryan Johnson, Stephanie Coleman, Bryan Mangrum, Chris Marshall, Kayl Kite, Cynthia Lightner, William Terry, David Bogema, Ryan Frye, Gerald Lee, and Lt. Col. Sonny B. Avichal, Nashville District commander. Graduates not pictured include Jamie James, Jason Phillips and Isaac Taylor. (USACE photo by Lee Roberts)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 3, 2019) – A group of new supervisors graduated today from a course designed to equip them with necessary tools to effectively manage resources, lead the workforce, and undertake all related supervisory tasks.

Lt. Col. Sonny B. Avichal, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, conveyed completion certificates to 16 graduates of the Supervisory Training Program, and congratulated them for their achievement and willingness to take on the challenges of supervision.

Avichal noted that it’s likely that the easy issues will probably get solved before they ever reach them, but the tough ones will, and that’s why they have been entrusted with supervisory positions.

“Understand that. Be comfortable with that, and realize that you have all my faith and confidence,” Avichal said.

Course participants attended nine sessions from April to December 2019 covering topics such as Army values; funding and budget; role of the supervisor; conflict management; time and attendance; staffing, interviewing and hiring; sexual harassment and violence; safety in the workplace; project management; and employees in crisis.

Ryan Johnson, lock master at Guntersville Lock on the Tennessee River in Grant, Ala., said the course benefited him because of the networking and knowledge gained about the organization. 

“For 20 years I was focused on navigation and a little on hydropower,” Johnson said.  “I was able to learn about all the different offices and missions, how far the district extends, and this gave me a bigger picture to look at.”

Cynthia Lightner, Business Operations and Maintenance Branch administrative officer, added her appreciation for how the instruction is spread out over time, which allowed her to more efficiently comprehend and employ what she learned in each session over the eight months of the course.

“For me, I thought I wouldn’t have time on top of everything else I’m supposed to be doing to do this,” Lightner said. “But it’s been very informative and very helpful.”

Immediately before the graduation ceremony, a leadership panel that included Avichal, Patty Coffey, deputy district engineer, and Bonnie Jagoditz, deputy district counsel, addressed the class about their leadership philosophies and supervisory experiences that shaped their careers.

Coffey, who started out as a park ranger and 39 years later serves as the district’s top civilian senior leader, encouraged the participants to be willing to seek out new opportunities and face challenges that may be outside of their comfort zones.

“It’s really important as you get these opportunities, whether it’s a developmental assignment or whatever, that you really put energy into it and learn all you can about it,” Coffey said.  “It’s important that you understand the job, how it fits into the rest of it, and take that into your next job too. And all those pieces then ultimately come together so you really understand what all the Corps of Engineers does on a daily basis.”

Jagoditz noted that she learned from her supervisor that supervisors that do the best job are the ones who remember that “supervision” is their job. 

“You might be the best civil engineer or the best PM (project manager) or the best lock operator, and that’s wonderful that is your experience. But you have to supervise too, and that supervision comes often from empowering folks to work hard for you,” Jagoditz stressed. “When you empower your folks and stand behind your folks and support your folks, they are going to come in and work hard for you every day.”

Coffey added that as the entire organization corporately works to revolutionize the Corps, the Nashville District wants employees to be empowered to make good choices, and expects supervisors to recognize when people need assistance or guidance to perform at a higher level.

“How we deliver our work really goes to how successful, how viable, how robust of a program we have here in the district,” Coffey said. ”We need to make sure that we have efficiency in our thoughts as we evaluate what options we have to take care of people.”

Graduates of the 2019 STP course are Johnson and Lightner, Frank Mills, Dylan Grissom, Myles Barton, Stephanie Coleman, Bryan Mangrum, Chris Marshall, Kayl Kite, William Terry, David Bogema, Ryan Frye, Gerald Lee, Jamie James, Jason Phillips and Isaac Taylor.

The commander thanked Freddie Bell, STP coordinator, and Olga Beddingfield, Anthony Rodino, Cory Morgan, David Quint and Tadd Potter for their work in delivering the 2019 supervisory program.

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