February 9 was a historic day for Army Management Staff College when 31 students graduated from the Army's first Civilian Education System Intermediate Course on the Fort Belvoir campus.

The students now join the alumni of the first Intermediate Course, which was conducted at the AMSC's Fort Leavenworth, Kan. campus from Oct. 17 to Nov 3, 2006.

At Fort Belvoir, students represented a variety of Army organizations and missions ranging from the Pentagon to the Republic of Korea; and from auditors to intelligence analysts. Students brought an impressive level of experience to the course - each seminar had more than 320 years of association with the Army and 390 years as leaders.

During the three-week resident phase, the collective knowledge of the students served as a great frame-of-reference for their study on how to lead people, lead organizations and manage systems.

All students provided feedback on the program, which is being used to improve both content and methodology.

Charles McCallar came to Fort Belvoir from Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. for the course. McCallar, an Information Technology Systems Support chief in the Directorate of Information Management for the 3rd Infantry Division, raved about the course in an e-mail.

"The Army CES Intermediate Course has been the most comprehensive, stimulating and useful Leadership course ever," said McCallar, who's served in the Army Civilian Corps for 21 years.

The CES Intermediate Course challenges students in a number of ways: to share their knowledge and personal and professional insights; to develop and refine their personal leadership philosophies; and to develop their own individual leadership model for use in their home organizations. In addition, students work as members of teams in each aspect of the course.

"We were made to feel like we were part of the real Army. We were expected to perform. We were expected to grow," McCallar said. "After three weeks -- we did."

Mark Cauthers of Morale, Welfare and Recreation at Fort Myer Military Community also provided positive feedback in an e-mail. "The CES Intermediate Course was first rate," Cauthers said.

"What I found was facilitation by the A-Team faculty that brought out the best in each of the students. We were empowered to delve into our thought processes and value systems."

One popular aspect of the course is independent learning, where students, as part of a team, visit places of historical or contemporary interest and develop "lessons learned" that link critical and creative thinking, leadership, individual and Army values, and leading change that they share as part of the seminar program.

One example of creative thinking and development of a leadership model originated with a member of seminar three, Peter Slusar, chief of quality assurance at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. Slusar's model portrayed factors he believed were essential to caring for "People-Customers-Mission."

There were numerous elements to include Energy for Change, Organizational Climate, Norms, and Conflict Resolution mechanisms. Notably, the superstructure of his model bringing all of these elements together was that of "communication" - running to and from the leader and supporting members of the team.

Slusar's model is indicative of the quality of work generated by his colleagues while studying Organizational Diagnosis and Strategic Planning in the 'leading organizations' block.

Since graduation, Slusar's among 31 leaders now hard at work taking care of Soldiers and their families.

"Many of us come from very strong backgrounds in Army management, with broad diverse experience. This makes us better and reminds us of why we are here . . . our Soldiers and their Boots on the Ground," McCallar said.

In the coming months, hundreds of other members of the Army Civilian Corps will attend CES courses at Fort Belvoir and at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Students will bring their skills to bear in the classroom, and then, as a result of resident and distance learning, return to their jobs able to execute their duties better.

Just as Slusar conveyed in his model, "People-Customers-Mission" says it all.

Be a part of this exciting time. For more information about the CES courses, please visit the AMSC Web site at www.amsc.belvoir.army.mil.

Looking back, the students are glad they took the time to attend the course.

"This was three weeks well-spent, and I encourage those who aspire to leadership roles to make this a must-do in their educational pursuits," Cauthers said.