Monday, December 15, 2008

Rio grad excels at Cash school

December 10, 2008

E.J. Anderson (480) 517-8472

Maurice C. Cash Elementary School teacher Sara Egli didn’t start her career as a classroom teacher but after just four years of teaching she’s being recognized as one of the best.
A graduate of Rio Salado College’s Teacher-in-Residence Program, Egli was one of ten teachers from around the state recently honored as a finalist for Arizona Teacher of the Year by the Arizona Educational Foundation.
A one-time financial planner, Egli had a successful San Francisco financial management job for several years when she realized she just wasn’t motivated or driven by her work.
A long-time education volunteer, Egli realized her passion was in education.
“I had always spent a lot of time volunteering in the education field. I was encouraged by many people to turn my passion into a career. I decided I wanted to be a teacher,” said Egli.
Accepted into the Teach For America program, Egli moved to Phoenix where she enrolled in Rio Salado College’s Teacher-in-Residence Program.
The highly competitive Teach For America program allows college graduates to begin working as teachers after a rigorous summer training session, and participants are required to complete their teaching certification while working.
A first grade teacher at Cash, Egli said Rio Salado’s online format worked well with her busy schedule.
“I thought it was great. Rio was a really good fit for my program. It was nice to have the flexibility to create my own schedule while managing a new career,” said Egli.
Egli found the online program a valuable resource for gaining classroom management skills, learning how to create successful lesson plans and the development of classroom community to support student achievement.
“As part of the Teacher-in-Residence Program, I was teaching and learning at the same time,” Egli said.
Lisa Sandomir, Principal of Maurice C. Cash Elementary School calls Egli phenomenal.
“Sara Egli is a dynamic master teacher. Her passion, dedication, and commitment to her students, colleagues as a whole are unwavering,” Sandomir said.
Students in Rio Salado College’s Teacher-in-Residence Program must hold a bachelor’s degree, an Arizona State fingerprint clearance card, and have passed the subject knowledge portion of the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment (AEPA).
"Courses in the Teacher-in-Residence Program are completed in an online format. Many courses include an in-person or virtual practicum. These practicum’s provide students an opportunity to view master teachers demonstrating skills key to successful classroom instruction,” Jennifer Gresko, Teacher-in-Residence Director said.
The online Post Baccalaureate Teacher Preparation Program is just part of Rio Salado College’s extensive education courses offerings. The college also has additional certification, professional development, and specialty endorsement courses for K-12 educators.
Rio Salado College is one of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges. The college has an extensive education program offering post baccalaureate teaching certification for K-12 and numerous education certifications and endorsements for those who want to become teachers. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to

E. J. Anderson
Media Relations Manager
Rio Salado College
2323 West 14th Street
Tempe, AZ 85281

Community colleges offer help for job-hunters

by Carrie Watters and Lesley Wright - Dec. 11, 2008 The Arizona Republic

A recession marked by a plunge in home values, stores shutting down and job losses are marking this holiday season.

The unemployment rate in metro Phoenix hit 5.5 percent last month, with November figures released in the coming weeks expected to climb.

"It's scary now, and it will be scary into next year," said Scott Schulz, who directs the Career and Employment Services Center at Glendale Community College.

Rio Salado Community College, Maricopa County Colleges and state agencies are coping with a rising tide of students, young workers, returning veterans and re-careering baby boomers at local employment assistance centers.

There is a wide variety of options for those laid off, including help in the West Valley.

Unemployment rates exist only for the Phoenix metro area as a whole, but economist Elliott Pollack said that while it's bad everywhere, the West Valley is likely feeling a slightly worse downturn.

The Valley economist doesn't foresee long-term damage, although he expects the short-term pain to continue well into 2009.

That struggle is felt by many, including West Valley resident Tiffany Land, 21.

The former cleaning-company owner recently pounded the pavement in search of work. Her husband was able to land a job in cellular-phone sales, but she continued to search for 2 1/2 months after she shut down her cleaning company, which lost contracts with furniture stores that went belly-up.

"Anything out there, I'll take," she said.

A record number of Arizonans - nearly 65,000 - are receiving unemployment benefits, according to Patrick Harrington, assistant director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security for employment and rehabilitation services.

The number of people being cut small government checks to tide them over until they find another job has roughly doubled since last year, he said, up about 25 percent from 2006.

Last week alone, 8,406 new unemployment benefit claims were filed. Meanwhile, 6,200 people in October sought to brush up their résumés, retool skills or otherwise get help with job searches at the Maricopa Workforce Connection's one-stop West Valley Career Center.

Rio Salado College offers most services online, including live chats with counselors.
Jacque Beale, director of Rio Salado's career center, advises people to take advantage of the skills and interests assessments available to help find new career paths.

"We encourage them to come in," Beale said. "A lot of times, people don't realize that with our questions, we can probe what they've done, where their life may be. We go for the passion."

College courses vary quite a bit, with some online classes starting every week for quick retraining and re-entry into the workforce.

"We even have an 11-minute stress-management workshop," counselor Melanie Abts said.
Employees who have not had to search for work in years may find that the path to new employment has changed tremendously. But so have the resources available.

Schulz said older workers often come into the Career and Employment Services Center at Glendale Community College with detailed résumés in fancy fonts. Those days are long gone. Most résumés are boring, he said, and must be sent online with key phrases embedded to make it through the preliminary electronic sorting at human resource departments.

Trained professionals are ready to help people navigate the unfamiliar waters at any of Maricopa Community College's 10 campuses, along with some satellite sites.

Résumé and interview workshops, skills assessments and counseling for new careers - along with advice on retraining - are available without charge. A resident does not have to be a student to take advantage of the college district's services.

Residents also can go to the West Valley Workforce Connection center for similar services. Funded by the federal government, the connection offices can help veterans, laid-off workers and others find grants for retraining.

Kevin Berry, who directs the West Valley one-stop, said the office has about 20 partner programs and can serve specialized needs. People who are older than 55 or younger than 24 have their own programs, as do people on federal assistance.

"We are definitely seeing an increase of people within the last eight months," Berry said. "The main thing is that a lot of people need to find employment right now."

Budgeting in a downturn
Richard Merican, a branch manager at Raymond James Financial Services in Arrowhead, advises clients to pay down the mortgage and squirrel away at least six months of expenses.
Sound advice, but many now faced with shrinking paychecks or layoffs are beyond that point.

Jeanine Lipka, vice president of branch counseling for the Consumer Credit Counseling Service, offers these tips:

• Get unemployment rolling right away.
• Document spending. Most know exactly what they earn, but few can detail exactly where it goes.
• Prioritize needs vs. wants (the car note vs. the deluxe cable package or the a.m. pit stop for latte).
• Contact creditors, whether mortgage lender or credit-card companies. Communicating is always better than ignoring. (Hint: They won't go away.) Some have hardship assistance programs, and in the mortgage realm, new programs are popping up regularly.
• Get on your utility company's budget plan to avoid sticker shock.
• Reach out for third-party assistance, such as the Consumer Credit Counseling Service, which has an office near Bell Road at 17235 N. 75th Ave. Suite C-125. Counselors at the non-profit can give an unbiased look at your budget. If you can't work up the courage to call lenders, they can help get an intermediary. CCCS offers free sessions in person or over the phone to create budget plans and, if necessary, debt management. Call 800-308-2227.
• Debt collectors, by law, must stop calling if you put the request in writing. That can ease stress, but it doesn't make debt go away.
• Even if it's $5 a paycheck, put money aside for the unexpected.
• Put your retirement fund in the "not unless desperate" file. Pulling money out during a low market will hurt - you will pay taxes on it and it won't be there when you retire.
Unemployment benefits
Arizona's benefits are among the lowest in the United States, but about two-thirds of applicants qualify for the high end of the state's unemployment pay: $240 a week.
With the latest extension signed by President Bush late last month, Arizonans can receive benefits for 46 weeks. If unemployment rates continue to rise, that will bump to a full year.
Here's some need-to-know information to navigate the bureaucracy that goes with the unemployment check:
• File online at or by phone at 602-364-2722 in the Phoenix area, 520-791-2722 in Tucson or 877-600-2722 statewide. It's best to file online, as the phone systems are difficult to access. If you don't have a computer, go to a library. If unfamiliar with the Internet, visit the West Valley One-Stop Center, which can walk you through the application. The center is at 1840 N. 95th Ave., Suite 160, Phoenix, or call 602-372-4200.
• File as soon as you are laid off to get the ball rolling before any employer severance package runs out.

If a claim has no issues that need investigating (about 30 percent of claims do), unemployment benefits could begin in less than two weeks.

Federal guidelines dictate that 80 percent of claims should be handled within 21 days. In Arizona, 50 percent are handled within that window. Most of the rest are processed within a month and a half, according to Patrick F. Harrington with the state Department of Economic Security.

"We are pretty backed up," he admits.
The state agency has added 78 staffers since May and is about to hire 45 more. But Harrington said not enough investigators are in the pipeline to handle the massive load.

• Not sure you qualify? File to find out.
• To qualify, a person must have been let go or have extenuating circumstances for quitting a job.
• What you will need to apply: Social Security number or alien registration number, mailing address, contact information for employers in the past 18 months, final work date, severance and other final paycheck details, as well as any pension payment information. Military veterans, federal civil servants and union members may need further documents.
• To keep receiving benefits, applicants must update the state each week on job searches and other details.
• Any earnings must be reported, and the amount of unemployment pay is reduced accordingly.

Source: DES.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

KJZZ Celebrates the Hoildays with Special Programs

NPR Returns to Kennedy Center for Christmas Jazz and Rings in New Year
with Six Hours of Live Music from Coast to Coast

TEMPE, ARIZ. (December 9, 2008) – KJZZ 91.5 FM is broadcasting three exceptional holiday programs including jazz from the Kennedy Center and clubs from across the country along with Tinsel Tales, featuring stories from NPR voices including David Sedaris, to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Highlights are listed below.

Saturday, December 20 9pm Jazz Piano Christmas
This year lots of Latin Jazz onstage at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. The lineup includes Brazilian pianist and singer Elaine Elias; Afro-Cuban jazz pianist and composer Arturo O ‘Farrill and New Orleans’s premier jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis.
Felix Contreras, hosts.

Sunday, December 21 3pm Tinsel Tales: NPR Christmas Favorites
Christmas is a time of traditions, and over the years, NPR has created a few traditions of its own. In this hour-long special: wistfulness, joy, doubt, hope, all the emotions we feel at this time of year, all summoned up in memorable stories from the NPR broadcast archives. David Sedaris, Scott Simon, Bailey White and John Henry Faulk among other NPR voices, past and present, tell stories of the season. Lynn Neary is the host.

Wednesday, December 31 8pm Toast of the Nation (6 hours live until 2am)
Countdown to 2009 this New Year’s Eve with live jazz from coast to coast. Performers include the New York Voices, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, the Mingus Big Band, the Evan Christopher Quartet in New Orleans, Pink Martini, a globe trotting little Orchestra performing at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and Hiromi’s Sonicbloom.

For more information contact Bitsy Susich 602-320-1343 / cell or

Thursday, December 4, 2008

KBAQ, KJZZ raffles smart car to benefit friends of public radio

Supporting Public Radio Makes You Smart
First Press Weekend of Wine raffling Smart Car with proceeds benefiting Friends of Public Radio

WHO: Valley residents interested in winning a Smart Car and supporting Friends of Public Radio (Central Arizona’s public radio stations, KBAQ, KJZZ and Sun Sounds).

WHAT: Tickets are now on sale for the Passion Coupe Smart Car raffle that is part of the seventh annual Weekend of Wine hosted by Friends of Public Radio (KBAQ, KJZZ and Sun Sounds of Arizona).
Tickets can be purchased for $100 each, two tickets for $175 or three tickets for $250, where every ticket after the first three is only $65, and can be purchased by visiting No more than 750 raffle tickets will be sold and the winner will be announced on Sunday, December 14, 2008.

The Smart Car will also be on display at both Weekend of Wine events, including the First Press Grand Tasting at the Hotel Valley Ho on Friday, November 7 and the First Press Wine Auction taking place at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa on Saturday, November 8.
For more information on the Passion Coupe Smart Car Raffle, the First Press Weekend of Wine or to purchase tickets visit

WHERE: First Press Grand Tasting: Hotel Valley Ho
6850 E. Main St.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

First Press Wine Auction: Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa
2400 E. Missouri Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85016

WHEN: Sunday, December 14, 2008

TICKETS: One ticket: $100
Two tickets: $175
Three tickets: $250
Every ticket after the first three is $65

VISUALS: Passion Coupe Smart Car also available for appearances.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Business class helps small business owners succeed

Business class helps small business owners succeed

Small business owner Chris Priebe always had an entrepreneurial spirit so it wasn’t surprising he started his own business right out of high school.
But it wasn’t until he solidified his business plan with help from a Rio Salado College class that his venture really began to take off.

Now just 24, Priebe runs a successful web design and recording studio business called OutofStockRecords. And in some of the most challenging economic times Priebe has managed to survive and thrive when many are calling it quits.

“This year has been our best year profit wise. We’ve worked out a lot of the kinks and the business plan really helped,” Priebe said.

A musician, Priebe launched his first business when he began buying studio recording equipment one piece at a time so he could record his own music. Once word got around others began asking to use his studio and the fledging business began to expand.

His web design side of the business also began out of necessity. Priebe knew his new business needed a web site so he started taking classes developing his skills in Macromedia Flash and Macromedia Dreamweaver and Photoshop. Once launched the web site became his best marketing tool as others asked for his help and he quickly gained clients.

“The web design caught on a lot quicker and is the most profitable side to Outof StockRecords,” said Priebe. The web site can be found at
Priebe and his wife Bethany are the sole owners of the business. He says it’s been a lot of work but also a lot of fun.

“I like being my own boss although with the business my wife ends up being my boss,” Priebe said.

Priebe and his wife now have some additional help. On November 10 Bethany Priebe gave birth to twins boys. Born 10 weeks earlier the twins are doing fine.

Maureen Racz was Priebe’s Rio Salado College teacher. The instructor for MGT253 (Owning and Operating a Small Business), Racz loves to see her students and former students succeed. An experienced, successful small business owner herself, Racz who has a MBA and a Doctorate, has been teaching business management classes for years.

“Whether your dreaming about one day opening your own business or have a specific plan in mind, this class really helps fine tune your ideas,” said Racz.

Students learn how to create a business plan, pros and cons of the various types of business ownership, debt capital sources, effective management styles and other entrepreneurial skills.
Before they even start, students choose one of two paths – those who have a specific business planned and others who are not sure what kind of company to start. Students complete different assignments based on the route they choose.

“This course provides students with a good idea of what it would take to own their own business: identifying their target market, analyzing their competition, formulating some financial information, and other details that are critical to the success of a small business," Dr. Mary Hannaman, Rio Salado Business Faculty Chair said.

The 3-credit online course can be used to earn an Associate in Applied Science in Organizational Management Degree at Rio Salado.

Rio Salado has more than 450 online classes and extensive course offerings in business, including introduction to business, business communication, business statistics, quantitative methods in business and legal, ethical and regulatory issues in business.

Rio Salado is one of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges offering weekly start dates, 24/7 online support and classes easily transferable to a university. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to

E. J. Anderson
Media Relations Manager
Rio Salado College
2323 West 14th Street
Tempe, AZ 85281

Communiversity, part community college, part university announced

Surprise school will blend community college, university

Faced with an urgent need for accessible, affordable education, the West Valley is venturing into a brave new academic experiment.

Get ready for the "communiversity," which will debut this summer in Surprise.

Not quite a community college and not quite a university, a communiversity intends to offer the best of both.
"It's incredibly innovative," said Todd Aakhus, community-partnership director of Rio Salado College, which is leading the project. "This will be a national model."

Based on an idea gaining traction across the country, the communiversity is a partnership of three Maricopa Community Colleges and as many as five universities. Rio Salado, Glendale and Phoenix community colleges will join with four-year universities to bring education to students instead of having students travel to their campuses.
Sound confusing?

It's just different, said Anita Voogt, dean of the communiversity in Brookdale, N.J. She and others have advised Rio Salado on the Surprise project.

Voogt said that at first, people had trouble even pronouncing the name, much less understanding the concept. Now, seven years after it opened, "high-school counselors refer to the communiversity as a higher-educational option as though it's the most natural thing in the world," Voogt said.

The communiversity will do what a community college does best: offer fast, focused classes to adults and the first two years of basic education to high-school graduates. When students earn an associate degree, they will not have to transfer to a four-year campus hoping that most of their credits will be accepted. Instead, the student will continue on a path that could lead to a master's degree, even if more than one college is involved. University professors will come to the Surprise site and teach online, in-person or - if a hybrid - do both.

In New Jersey, a student can begin at Brookdale Community College and leave with a master's degree from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, without ever leaving the Brookdale campus.

It's cheaper as well. Communiversity students can often shave at least 33 percent from the cost of a bachelor's degree, Aakhus said.

Voogt said the plan has helped boost graduation rates, a problem so vexing that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced last month a $500 million initiative to help community-college students finish their studies. Nationally, only 36 percent of college-bound students from low-income households earn degrees.

That's bad news for a region trying to lure employers with high-paying jobs. It's also difficult for adults who face increasing unemployment and the need to find new work in a high-tech labor market.

There is a reason that business, education, health services and technology are some of the most popular courses at community colleges.

Surprise, the far West Valley and the rural reaches of Arizona could benefit from the focus on practical education. The city saw an influx of young families during the housing boom. New residents include schoolchildren who will need college, midcareer adults who need new skills and retirees who want a variety of classes.

The city is still growing, and officials want to attract solar companies, high-tech workplaces and health-care industries, which have fewer booms and busts. But these employers demand an educated workforce. That's why Surprise is leasing part of its new City Hall site to Rio Salado for the communiversity for $1 a year.

"In Surprise, we want to get as much education as we can," said Jon Hagen, the city's economic-development director. "Arizona is a very young state. The economy was built on tourism, construction, and extraction industries like mining. The current economic situation should point out to people that we need more economic diversification. A lot more of it should be a lot more sustainable."

Hagen said he expects the crashing economy will send many more people to the college doors.
Surprise officials realized two years ago that the housing downturn meant they would not need to build a planned 26,000-square-foot extension on the new City Hall, near Bell and Litchfield roads. The project with Rio Salado addressed two issues: the lack of a community college in the far West Valley, and the use of land that could sit vacant for 10 years.
The $9 million communiversity is funded by community-college district bonds that voters approved in 2004.

The communiversity model appealed to Rio Salado because it takes into account a recent study of future jobs in the West Valley and crafts its degrees around that, said Chris Bustamante, Rio Salado's vice president of community development and student services.
"That's what community colleges do very well: adapt to the needs of the economy," Bustamante said.

The model also mixes online and in-person education, so it could extend outside Valley boundaries.

Students and community colleges also benefit from the efficient use of credits. Communiversity colleges will accept up to 90 junior-college credits. Four-year colleges traditionally accept only 64 credits.

And the college district will be able to offer more bang for the educational buck, especially with the prospect of future community-college bonds diminishing, Bustamante said.

"There is so much need in the economy that we're looking for areas in which we can partner," he said. "In this partnership, we are not paying for land. We are not paying for parking. We don't have to pay for all of that with bond dollars. I believe this is a model we can look at in the future. We believe it will be successful."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Academic advisor honored with USA flag from Iraq

Academic advisor honored with flag

Rio Salado College Military Academic Advisor Chantele Carr was thrilled last week to receive a United States of America Flag.

No ordinary USA Flag, the red, white and blue star spangled banner has flown over the cities of Baghdad, Balad, Ramadi, Fallujah, Al Taqaddum and Al Asad, Iraq by a MEDEVAC helicopter and crew assigned to Charlie Company (Air Ambulance) of the 1st battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment. The crew was performing a mission in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The flag was flown in honor of Carr for her dedication and service to American Soldiers around the world, stated the certificate that came with the flag.

Carr, who has spent the past five years advising military personnel around the globe, has received dozens of e-mails and notes thanking her for her work but the symbolic striped pennant was a first.

“I was just shocked. It was totally unexpected, I was just doing my job”, said Carr who strives to go above and beyond to help those serving their country attend college.

The flag was sent from Sgt. Timothy Morse. Initially, Carr began corresponding with Morse’s wife Nancy who was trying to get her husband enrolled in classes. Finding the military tuition reimbursement program challenging to navigate, Morse wanted to pay for his own classes. Carr walked him through the process step-by-step, and helped him enroll in the necessary classes to prepare to enter the Army’s highly competitive physician’s assistant program.

“Chantele Carr is the epitome of great customer service and supporting America’s soldiers, marines, sailors and airman,” said Morse. “When everyone else didn’t take a minute to listen or help she was willing to look outside the box and make things happen for me, said Morse who calls Arizona home and is currently station in Landstuhl Germany. Morse served in Iraq from August of 2007 until Nov. 2 of 2008 as a flight medic.

For nearly three decades Rio Salado has been providing educational opportunities to the military. Servicemembers from around the world enroll in Rio Salado online classes to earn certificates and degrees to further their military careers, switch occupations and prepare for civilian life.

Thousands of members of the military have taken advantage of Rio Salado’s packed schedule of online classes. Motivated by the convenience and flexibility of online classes, soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are completing their college education while serving their country.

Rio Salado’s online format works well for servicemembers who are deployed, reassigned and have erratic schedules.

Classes start every Monday; and the online format allows students to work where they want, when they want. Carr belongs to the Military Advisement Team. Military advisement is dedicated to meeting and exceeding the needs of the active duty Servicemember.
Rio Salado courses are state-of-the-art and interactive with 24/7 helpdesk for students with technical questions, online student support and an online mini-syllabus to preview courses. Courses can be accelerated with teacher approval.

“Our goal is to ensure that we provide educational access to our Military students and their Families with the same care, support and service they provide for us, said Yvonne Lawrence
As a military-friendly college, Rio Salado offers a large variety of different degrees and certificates of completion programs. Degrees include an associate in science, arts, general business or an associate in applied science in organizational management, public administration, law enforcement technology and military leadership. Members of the military may be eligible for 100% tuition assistance and it may be used at Rio Salado. Servicemembers often find earning college credits or a degree makes a big difference in their lives.

Rio Salado College is one of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to

Thursday, November 20, 2008

KBAQ announces special Thanksgiving and Christmas programs

TEMPE, ARIZ. (November 20, 2000) -- KBAQ 89.5 FM, Central Arizona’s classical music companion, has created a holiday schedule full of Christmas Carols and holiday pops that culminates on New Year’s Day with the Vienna Philharmonic. Highlights are listed below. Visit for more programming information.

Thursday, November 27 1pm Harvest Home: Thanksgiving with the Dale Warland Singers
Choral classics celebrating Thanksgiving and harvest. The Dale Warland Singers, acclaimed as America’s premier choir draw upon their archive of live performances to create an autumn musical feast. Brian Newhouse, host.

Saturday, December 6 7pm The Best Gifts
Christmas spoken, sung and played in a program of treasures from the KBAQ archive. Performances from long ago and only yesterday with familiar voices and the meanings of Christmas.

Friday, December 12 7pm The Rose Ensemble: An Early American Christmas
Shaker Tunes, Kentucky Harmonies, and Acadian dances done by one of America’s premiere early-music ensembles. Since it began in 1996, The Rose Ensemble has surprised and delighted audiences with performances of music from centuries past. This 2008 Christmas program highlights the treasures of Appalachia.

Saturday, December 13 7pm A Choral Christmas Card
A coast-to-coast sampler of the country’s best choirs in carols for the season. Visit choral towns across the U.S. including Kansas City, Austin, Santa Fe, and Boston. Hear songs from hundreds of years past and beautiful selections of our own time. Valerie Kahler, host.

Friday, December 19 7pm A Chanticleer Christmas
America’s finest male chorus celebrates the mystery and wonder of Christmas. Their 2008 Christmas special is a blend of traditional carols, medieval sacred works, and jazzy spirituals. Brian Newhouse, host.

Friday, December 19 8pm Carols for Dancing
An hour-long special devoted to the intimate connection between song and dance in holiday music. Built around vigorous performances by Renaissonics — an award-winning improvisatory Renaissance dance band. The program tells the story of the mid-winter holiday dance tradition. Ellen Kushner, hosts.

Saturday, December 20 8pm 365 Holidays with the Canadian Brass
The Canadian Brass performs new arrangements of Christmas music along with the classic versions of Christmas and Hanukkah songs they've made popular over the last 35 years. David Srebnik, host.

Monday, December 22 7pm Chanukah in Story and Song
Narrated by Leonard Nimoy and sung by the acclaimed vocal sextet The Western Wind Vocal Ensemble, this program presents 25 eclectic selections, from the Ladino songs of the Spanish Jews and Yiddish melodies of Eastern Europe to modern Israeli tunes and the ensemble's original version of "I Have a Little Dreydle." The ensemble performs a cappella as well as with instrumental accompaniment. The narration, written by Rabbi Gerald Skolnik, sheds new light on the holiday's customs and rituals.

Wednesday, December 24 9am A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
A live broadcast from the chapel of the King's College in Cambridge, England. Michael Barone hosts this exclusive broadcast of the legendary Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols service of Biblical readings and music as performed by the King's College Choir.

Thursday, December 25 7pm Mendelssohn “Magnificat”
"Magnificat," an American broadcast debut, features the Yale Schola Cantorum in a period-style performance of Felix Mendelssohn's setting of the text, directed by Simon Carrington. "Magnificat" presents a unique opportunity to hear both Christmas works back-to-back with some of the finest young vocal and instrumental talent in America. Host and celebrated conductor Simon Carrington leads the performances from Yale's renowned Woolsey Hall.

Thursday, January 1 7pm New Year’s Day from Vienna 2009
NPR takes you direct to the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna for the most popular classical music concert in the world, the Vienna Philharmonic New Year's Day concert. Included will be your favorite waltzes and polkas, and so much more, all conducted by Daniel Barenboim.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rio Salado instructor gives advice on helping kids with homework

If book bags and study packets make you cringe. And math facts and science projects turn your stomach into knots, you’re not alone
Getting youngsters to do their homework is an ongoing battle in many a household. Beth Hoffman, a Rio Salado College instructor and veteran of the homework battle, knows. She’s experienced both sides of the war including 14 years as a classroom teacher and as the parent of two elementary school age boys.

“The homework tug-a-war can really get your blood pressure boiling. Even as an educator, homework and how best to manage the process in our busy world, is a constant struggle,” said Hoffman who teaches teachers how to teach at Rio Salado College.

Most evenings Hoffman and her two young sons spend a couple of hours hunched over the kitchen table doing homework. But Hoffman says those who value education realize homework plays a significant role in education.

“Homework reinforces subjects learned in the school day. It’s also a great time to get to know your child’s learning style, and keep abreast of the classroom curriculum. Below are some strategies for taking the stress out of homework and make it a positive experience for both parents and students alike.

1. Know your child. What works for one doesn’t always work for the other(s). Some kids need a break after school, some need a break and a snack, and others just want to get it done so they can have the rest of the day to themselves. Some kids need homework broken up into smaller sessions, with a break between each session. This will take more monitoring on your part, but worth it, if it works.

2. Keep a constant routine. Children like to know what’s coming next, and what the expectation is for the task. By keeping a constant routine you will rid yourself of the never ending questions, and mixed messages that can rear their ugly heads. However, you may need to be flexible, not everyday is the same.

3. Quiet, quiet, quiet! Ask yourself how hard it would be to create a quality resume, in 30 min. to an hour, with the TV on. Same thing for kids. Distractions can lead to a 2 -3 hour homework session that should only take 30 min. Let them know that as soon as they are done, the TV may be turned on. It’s okay to hang out the “carrot” as long as you follow through.

4. Keep materials ready and available in a designated space. Keeping the backpack near the child also helps, so they don’t have the excuse to run downstairs to get something.

5. Be proactive and CHECK the back pack before starting homework. Make sure your child and you are on the same page and the child has a clear expectation of what needs to get done. This keeps frustration from peaking when they realize they did the wrong Math page.

6. Timed or not timed?? This depends on whether you have the “procrastinator” or you have the “Little Engine that could”. (God bless you if you have the “procrastinator”.) If you use a timer, make sure to make it an incentive, not a punishment. The punishment is already built in. If you don’t get your homework done, you have less time to do what you’d really like to do. (i.e.… “I’m sorry you didn’t have time to play Wii today. I know you’re frustrated about that. Maybe tomorrow, you’ll have more time, after you finish your homework.”) If the child finishes the homework before the timer has gone off, provide a meaningful reinforcement (extra 10 min. to stay up past bed time, get to watch a favorite TV program, ride bikes, etc…) that creates a “buy-in” to homework.

7. Develop habits, early. Is kindergarten too early?? Absolutely not! Do this with your first child, and each additional child will understand the expectations from the get go.

8. Should I help? Yes! Just be careful that your helpfulness doesn’t create an unhealthy dependence on you. The ultimate goal is to encourage initiative and responsibility. Ask questions that promote thinking. You might model one problem and have the child do the next. Check your child’s homework AFTER they have checked it. Make “checking” a habit. This is an important skill that often times needs to be directly taught.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Storybooks increases literacy and promotes college

TEMPE October 29, 2008 – Rio Salado College early childhood educators Diana Abel and Rene Manning are more comfortable reading storybooks to toddlers than writing one but that hasn’t stopped the two from scripting two new colorful activity books designed to get children reading and their parents thinking about college.
In conjunction with the early childhood staff, they have written Kash the Kangaroo Helps Mommy Go to College, and Megan the Mouse Helps Daddy Go To College. Last week the Rio Salado early childhood staff were distributing copies of the new book at the Channel Eight/KAET PBS KIDS Raising Readers Family Literacy Celebration Day at the state capitol.
Joining with more than 20 others from government departments, community organizations, and area agencies offering hands-on literacy activities at the Wesley Bolin Plaza the staff and program volunteers distributed the free books.

“We felt the best way to encourage children and to support the concept of raising readers was to develop an activity book to read to children,” Diana Abel, Rio Salado College Early Childhood Education Director said.

The books, with Kash the Kangaroo and Megan the Mouse, is a simple story complete with pictures of Kash and his mom and Megan and her dad both of which decide they want to go back to school and head to Rio Salado College.

“The book focuses on how children can help and support their parents going back to college just like we teach them how to help around the house. Parents model the importance of education and are the best role models in the lives of their children,” Abel said.

Response for the new colorful readers was gratifying as numerous parents stopped by their booth with the youngsters in tow saying “I’ve been thinking about going back to college, or I really need to get busy and go back to school,” said Abel.

As partners, Rio Salado College and KAET8/ASSET, are working together to assist early childhood practitioners complete courses that can lead to the national CDA credential. The partnership has resulted in combining the online for-credit courses offered through Rio Salado’s early childhood program and the website, A Place of Our Own, which is supported by KAET8/ASSET.

Students who enroll in these one credit courses will be able to use the wealth of resources found at A Place of Our Own as a part of their course requirements. Resources at this website include video clips, activities, panel discussions and journal articles designed specifically for early childhood practitioners and parents.

“This is a great resource for our students and offers many enriching activities and material for our students” Abel said.

Rio Salado College is one of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges. The college has an extensive early childhood education program that include numerous certificates, associate degrees and national credentialing courses for those who want to enter the early childhood field or for those in the field who wish to enhance their professional development. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or to learn more about Rio’s early childhood programs go to

Want to raise a reader? Read together every day!
It’s okay to read the same book over and over and over again!
Point out print in everyday life…this helps children understand the important of reading.
Be a ready yourself! When is the last time you read a book for enjoyment?
Read a variety of different kids of stories to your child.
Point out the words and their corresponding pictures as your read.
Stop often while reading the story and ask your child what they think might happen next.
Make reading fun by changing your voice to fit the mood of the story.
Find comfortable places where you and your child (ren) can sit close together and snuggle as you enjoy the reading experience.
Share your thoughts about the book.

Monday, November 3, 2008

KBAQ 89.5 FM features valley youth Nov. 18


From the Top, the non-profit known for its hit radio and television broadcasts featuring the nation’s best young classical musicians hosted by acclaimed concert pianist Christopher O’Riley, comes to the Mesa Arts Center on Tuesday, November 18 at 8pm to tape its NPR radio program heard on KBAQ 89.5 FM. This special concert recording presented by the Mesa Arts Center and KBAQ will feature performances from outstanding young artists from Arizona and across the country. Tickets are available at (480) 644-6500 or For KBAQ listeners tickets are $25 and $6 for student groups.

Local talent includes 16-year-old flutist Chaz Salazar from Phoenix and 13-year-old pianist Carolynn Cong from Scottsdale. Salazar, who attends the Arizona School for the Arts, will play III. Presto Giocosofrom Sonata by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) accompanied by Christopher O’Riley on piano. He is also one of 25 recipients of From the Top’s $10,000 Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award. Cong, who attends Pinnacle High School, will perform the fourth movement from Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 6 in A major, Op. 82. Cong is also a National Finalist for Junior Baldwin Music Teachers Association.

Nick-Man & Robyn the violin and cello duo comprised of siblings Robyn, 18, and Nicholas, 15, Bollinger from Haddonfield, NJ, 15-year-old violinist Clayton Penrose-Whitmore from Springfield, IL, and 16-year-old trumpet player Ansel Norris from Madison, WI will also perform. As on every From the Top broadcast, this taping will highlight the performers’ musicianship as well as their lives outside of music through interviews with O’Riley.

In the past year, From The Top has featured two other Phoenix musicians on the show. Mia Laity, a 15-year-old violinist: and Anna Han, who will appear on the broadcast the week of November 3. Anna’s appearance was taped in Lawrence, Kansas this July at the International Institute for Young Musicians.

One of the most popular weekly radio programs on public radio, From the Top’s variety show format features music, interviews and light-hearted sketches with the country’s most talented pre-college age musicians. From the Top is heard on more than 200 NPR stations coast-to-coast and online at KBAQ carries the program Sundays at 7pm. This concert will broadcast on March 1, 2009.

From the Top’s PBS television program From the Top at Carnegie Hall, a 13-part series hosted by Christopher O’Riley, captures the excitement of young musicians in performance at Carnegie Hall and showcases their lives both on-stage and off. The series can be seen on KAET Sundays at noon as well as at

Each year, From the Top visits 20 communities to tape radio broadcasts and conduct education outreach programs that utilize the inspirational power of young musicians to motivate students and adults to engage in music and the arts. At broadcast taping performers are encouraged to explore ways in which they can connect with new audiences, serve as positive peer role models, and give back to their communities.


From the Top is a non-profit organization that celebrates the passion, dedication and personal stories of the nation’s outstanding young classical musicians. Through entertaining radio and television broadcasts, online media, and a national tour of live events and outreach programs, these performers inspire the pursuit of excellence, and encourage participation in the arts as an integral part of a vibrant and civil society.

From the Top’s training and mentorship programs prepare young musicians to connect with new audiences, serve as positive peer role models, and give back to their communities in many ways.

From the Top on NPR is made possible through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. It is also supported through the generous contributions of individuals and foundations as well as public radio stations. From the Top radio program is produced in association with WGBH Radio Boston and New England Conservatory of Music, its home and education partner.

Exclusive corporate funding for From the Top at Carnegie Hall on PBS is provided by Liberty Mutual Insurance. Major foundation funding is provided by the Bernard Osher Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Helen and Peter Bing, National Endowment for the Arts, and the E.H.A. Foundation.

Music. It’s Powerful Stuff.

High school students learn college researching skills

Like many high school seniors this year McClintock students Sharri Hudson Kiara Hamed and Alex Chandler are required to do library research for a number of English papers they are required to write.

But the three students are getting more mileage than most from their high school experience. They are getting a double whammy; gaining both high school and college level writing and research skills at the same time.

And not only are they learning additional skills they’re racking up college credit under Rio Salado College’s dual enrollment program.

This year more than 6,000 students around the valley will participate in the program that allow students to take college level classes while still in high school simultaneously earning high school and college credits. Dual enrollment classes are available in English, math, science, foreign language and social studies.

Some students are able to graduate with enough college credits to skip a year of college. Some do even better graduating with an associate degree and a high school diploma saving both time and money.

Last week Rio Salado College librarian Janelle Underhill was on the McClintock High School campus teaching students how to use the online college library including how to navigate through dozens of databases, e-books, and other resources available for their use.

“We have found it very helpful for our dual enrollment students,” said Underhill who visits almost all of Rio Salado’s dual enrollment English 101 classes.

“The more students work with the library’s databases, the better prepared they will be when they head off to a university in a year or two,” Underhill said.

Along with the advanced research skills students using a college library are also exposed to dozens of additional resources.

While most high school libraries have 4 or 5 databases, Rio Salado College has more than 40 databases and a university may have as many as 200 or more, Underhill tells students.
Besides the in-person demonstration of the college’s library resources, students may also request a CD which reviews basic research skills and gives information about the Rio Salado’s library. Another form of free assistance is Ask a Librarian chat service which is available 24/7 for students with questions or problems. Ask a Librarian chat is District-wide cooperative that includes all 10 Maricopa Community Colleges.

As part of Underhill’s library presentation students are shown how to find articles in online magazines, scholarly journals, newspapers and reference databases. As dual enrollment students, they may also check out books from any of the 10 MCCCD Libraries and have online access to thousands of ebooks. Finally, in the sessions students are encouraged to explore helpful links on the library’s website such as Rio’s Online Writing Lab (OWL), citation examples, tutorials and evaluation criteria, while writing class assignments for their English 101 class.
McClintock High School dual enrollment teacher Adam Unrein is a fan of teaching college level skills to high school students.

“It’s a great for our students. The resources available are vast compared to what we have in our high school. It’s the perfect stepping stone for students. Not overwhelming just right,” Unrein said.

Hamed says she’s glad she had the chance to learn college skills in high school.
“I think it’s good so we won’t be confused later when we won’t have any of these people around to help us,” Hamed said.

Rio Salado College is one of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges. The college offers degrees and career and technical certificates in business, computer technology, early childhood and teacher education, healthcare, law enforcement and more. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to

Monday, October 27, 2008

Graduate featured in national broadcast

Rio Salado graduate Dawn Beck on national broadcast

TEMPE October 27, 2008 – Rio Salado College graduate Dawn Beck was highlighted on a national broadcast “A Promise in Jeopardy” last week. The live, two- hour town hall meeting on educational issues included a national panel of experts and community colleges from five cities (Phoenix, Chicago, Salt Lake City, New York City and Philadelphia).

Panelists answered questions from students at each of the five community colleges on the future of affordable higher education, job training and economic opportunity as they related to the presidential platforms of Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama.

The national panel of experts included Rufus Glasper, Ph.D., Chancellor of the Maricopa County Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the country.
Additional members were; Arturo Gonzales, Ph.D., Labor Economist and Sr. consultant, Ernst and Young of San Francisco, Celia Turner, Consignment Operation Coordinator, General Motors of Flint, Michigan, David Longanecker, Ed.D. President Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education of Boulder, CO, Sara Hebel, Sr. Editor, Government and Politics, The Chronicle of Higher Education of Washington D.C. and Sylvia Wetzel, Chief Learning Officer, Bison Gear and Engineering of St. Charles, IL.

Following a brief video featuring Beck’s quest to earn her college diploma, Beck led the question part of the program in Phoenix asking about online education. Beck, a Rio Salado College May 2008 graduate was a high school dropout before returning to school after 12 years. So driven to succeed, the determined stay-at-home mom of two managed to rack up 53 credits in just nine months to complete her associate of arts degree. Beck will graduate with her bachelor’s of arts degree in December of 2008 and plans to complete her doctorate to become a marriage and family therapist.

Rio Salado College is one of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges. The college offers degrees and career and technical certificates in business, computer technology, early childhood and teacher education, healthcare, law enforcement and more. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to

E. J. Anderson
Media Relations Manager
Rio Salado College
2323 West 14th Street
Tempe, AZ 85281

Linda Thor receives 'Excellence In Education' award

Dr. Linda Thor, President of Rio Salado College, the largest (in terms of headcount) of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges, was awarded the 2008 Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) “Excellence In Education” award last week at the RMHC U.S. Scholarship Breakfast.

The event raised more than $250,000 to help Arizona high school students attend college, making it one of the largest fundraising programs of its kind in the state.

Each year the “Excellence in Education” award is presented to collegiate educators that have shown exemplary commitment to education, innovation and leadership in the community.

“This collegiate administrator has demonstrated exceptional performance toward improving the quality of teaching and learning for students,” said Nancy Roach, executive director of the Phoenix Ronald McDonald House. “She is a truly outstanding educator whose distinguished leadership is impacting our Arizona youth.”

Thor has served 22 years as a college president and 18 at Rio Salado College in Tempe. Under Thor’s leadership, Rio Salado, known as “the college without walls,” has become a national leader in online education. The innovative college provides uniquely accessible and affordable courses to those who might not otherwise be able to pursue a higher education. Online classes start every Monday and students can take advantage of online tutoring and support services seven days a week while they earn associate degrees and certificates. The college has developed a reputation for innovation and has been profiled in the The New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, University Business, and other major publications.

Over the past 12 years Rio Salado has earned a national reputation for academic excellence and for taking the lead in the explosive growth of eLearning. Nearly 30,000 of its 61,000 students enroll annually in online classes.

RMHC U.S. Scholarship Program offers scholarships to Arizona high school students from communities that face limited access to educational and career opportunities. Since its inception, the program has awarded over 1,000 scholarships to students.

Thor admits she has a deep affinity for the program’s goal to provide Arizona high school seniors scholarships.

Thor wasn’t always college bound. Bored with high school and with a well-paying job as a high school graduate, Thor considered continuing her summer job and not going to college. With prodding from her mother, Thor enrolled with the promise if she didn’t like it she could quit.

“Obviously college was a good match since I have gone to college nearly every day of my life since then,” said Thor.

But it wasn’t easy. Thor’s father was a police officer and the family couldn’t afford the university tuition. But with multiple scholarships, Thor was able to attend college, graduating from Pepperdine University with a Bachelor’s degree and continuing on to complete her Master’s in Public Administration and earning a doctorate in Education in Community College Administration.

As a college president, Thor relates to many of her students knowing first-hand what it’s like to juggle full-time work, home and family while going to college.

“I told myself if I ever became a college president, I would help working adults who are trying to balance family, work and school,” said Thor. “I have devoted the majority of my career to making a college education convenient and accessible, especially for working adults.”

Rio Salado officially opened in 1978, catering to non-traditional college students. In 1996 it launched its first online courses and currently offers nearly 450 online classes. It is the only community college in the country which offers weekly start dates.

“I am very proud that this year Rio Salado will serve nearly 60,000 students for whom a traditional college education is not an option,” Thor said.

For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to

To apply for a RMHC U.S. Scholarship, visit www. Students must be a high school senior; enroll and attend an institution of higher education or a vocational or technical school; reside in central or northern Arizona; be less than 21 years of age and be a legal United States resident. Additionally, the student must submit a complete application and all required documentation by February 16, 2009.

The RMHC U.S. Scholarship Program is supported through the efforts of Arizona businesses and community organizations; neighborhood McDonald’s owners/operators and suppliers; local and national Ronald McDonald House Charities; and the McDonald’s Corporation.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Information sessions for ESL online to be held

Students around the Valley can learn English and earn college credit in online and in-person courses through Rio Salado College.

The online English as a Second Language (ESL) classes begin every week and in-person classes start Jan. 12. Residents and non-residents may enroll in the courses, which cost $71 to $96 per credit hour.

The classes use innovative voice-recognition software that allows students to hear the words they need to speak and read English. The classes include games and other engaging activities, as well as quizzes and writing assignments to reinforce their learning.

Interested students can learn more about Rio Salado’s ESL online courses at “One-Stop-Shop” information sessions at Rio Salado campuses in the East and West Valley in November.

For more information call 480-517-8249, visit or e-mail

The “One-Stop-Shop” events are:
· 5:30 to 8 p.m. Nov. 12, 20 and 24 @
Rio Salado @ East Valley1455 S. Stapley Drive, Suite 15Mesa, AZ 85204 (just north of the Superstition Highway)

· 5:30 to 8 p.m. Nov. 13, 17 and 19 @
Rio Salado @ Avondale
420 N. Central Ave.Avondale, AZ 85323 (just south of Van Buren)

E. J. Anderson
Media Relations Manager
Rio Salado College
2323 West 14th Street
Tempe, AZ 85281

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rio Salado's interpretation program fills hospital need

Hospital stays can be scary, but what if you don’t speak the language and you can’t communicate with the medical staff?

What if your child is critically injured or seriously ill? Reassurance and communication from a physician can be vital.

And just as daunting is when medical personnel need information and can’t communicate with the patient or the patient’s family.

Phoenix’s Children’s Hospital and Rio Salado College have partnered to develop a program designed to “bridge the gap” in languages.

Realizing the need for bilingual speakers who were familiar with the medical field, the hospital developed the Spanish Medical Interpretation curriculum. Last month Rio Salado, which already has an extensive online foreign language program with courses in Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, French and German, put it online.

The new online interactive format has enormously expanded the accessibility of a program which in its in-person status was very limited, Angela Felix, PhD, Faculty Chair for Rio Salado College Foreign Languages Department, said.

The classes, SPA 205 and SPA 206, are both 3-credit college-level courses. SPA205 is an introduction to Spanish interpretation for medical interpreters, and covers the code of ethics, national standards and medical interpreter’s responsibilities. Interpretation for firefighters, ambulance personnel and other first responders is also included. In SPA206 students learn medical vocabulary, including human anatomy and physiology, in Spanish and English.
The courses are the only kind in the state. Designed for those who are already proficient in another language but want to be effective medical interpreters, the classes teach students important skills.

“Many of us who work in hospitals speak Spanish, but we don’t learn technical medical vocabulary at home,” said Barbara Rayes of the National Medical Interpreter Project at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

“We want to be sure that when a doctor’s words are interpreted, nothing is lost in the translation. Getting the message right takes a lot of training,” Rayes said.
“There are so many grave errors that can be committed between patients and doctors,” Felix said.

Students in the class learn anatomy, physiology, medical terms and procedures so they have a basic understanding of what they are interpreting.

“You can’t create meaning from ideas you don’t understand, so subject matter knowledge is as important as terminology,” says AnaMaria Bambaren -Call, President of Arizona Translators and Interpreters, Inc.

At Phoenix Children’s Hospital, teachers use a variety of teaching tools including pictures, glossaries, and even a cow’s heart, which is dissected during class to help attendees understand the cardiovascular system.

In the online format, students access videos and interactive activities to simulate the in-person experience.

“You have to get the message right. It has to be complete. Sometimes, a person’s life depends on it,” said Bambaren-Call.

There is no national certification for interpreters. Phoenix Children’s Hospital received a grant to develop the Medical Interpreter curriculum.

After finishing the online class, student Angelita Whately said it has become even clearer how dangerous mistakes in interpretation can be in the area of medicine, especially pediatric medicine.

“Knowing the language is key. I feel I have a lot to learn still. Also, I was unaware of just what would be expected of me as an interpreter, the guidelines, the do’s and don’ts,” said Whately who has taken every Spanish class offered at the college.

For information or registration about the Spanish Medical Interpretation classes call 480-517-8540 or go to

Rio Salado College is one of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges. The college offers degrees and career and technical certificates in business, computer technology, early childhood and teacher education, healthcare, law enforcement and more.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital is Arizona’s only licensed children’s hospital, providing world-class care in more than 40 pediatric specialties to our state’s sickest kids. Though Phoenix Children’s is one of the ten largest freestanding children’s hospitals in the country, rapid population growth in Arizona means the Hospital must grow as well. Phoenix Children’s recently announced a $588 million expansion plan to bring its special brand of family-centered care to even more patients and families. The plan includes a significant upgrade of the Hospital's current campus, an aggressive physician recruitment effort, and new satellite centers in high growth areas of the Valley. For more information, visit the Hospital’s Web site at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rio Salado College outreach center opens

Rio Salado College, the online college, is reaching out to students with a new center to help students be successful.

On Oct. 6 the college’s outreach center began making personal phone calls to offer students assistance with a variety of tasks. Those tasks included helping with registration, providing information about programs and courses, explaining about financial aid and tuition payment options, informing struggling students about tutoring opportunities and describing how credits transfer to a university.

The center will even call students in jeopardy of being dropped for failure to pay tuition reminding them of the college’s payment plan.

“We are really excited about our new outreach center. It’s another program designed to help students be successful in the college environment,” Kishia Brock, Dean of Enrollment said.

The college already has a myriad of support services including 24/7 help for students with instructional or technical questions, online academic advising, registration, enrollment and library services. But most of those services are geared to current students.

The new outreach center will help prospective students trying to navigate the system before they are enrolled as well as those enrolled with questions.

The new center will even be used to assist students in figuring out the next class they need to complete their educational goals at Rio Salado.

“A lot of students are closer to a degree than they think from the credits they have already taken. We want to make it happen,” Maribeth All, Outreach Manager said.

“We are really offering one-stop-shopping. All the information students need to know will be right here just one phone call away,” All said.

The center will also work closely with the Maricopa County Community College District online student center called

Students requesting information from the college will also benefit from the new outreach center. Requests for information will be followed with a phone call to ensure mailed material was received and students’ questions have been answered.

“We’re taking customer service very seriously and hope our new outreach center will help students earn the degree or certificate they want,” All said.

Many of the nearly 60,000 students who attend Rio Salado College are nontraditional college students. They may work-full time; have just returned to college after a long absence or they are the first person in their family to attend college. The outreach center will most likely be a new student’s first contact with the college and is designed to be personable and inviting.

“This is a tough economy; in order to be more marketable job seekers need to have an education. Rio Salado understands real life and has designed online classes that start every Monday for our students,” All said. “This makes our job easy because our students don't have to wait for a semester to start their classes.”

Members of the college’s new outreach department are thrilled to be working with students.

“I love that we are reaching out to our students. That’s what we are here for, to help people better themselves by furthering their education,” Mikko Woolley of the outreach team said.

Jeremy Beecroft, who also works in the outreach center, still remembers how intimidating it was when he started college.

“I understand the challenges prospective and current students encounter. I want to help make the Rio Salado College experience to be positive and rewarding for students,” Beecroft said.

Rio Salado College is one of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges. The college offers degrees and career and technical certificates in business, computer technology, early childhood and teacher education, healthcare, law enforcement and more. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Students can win cash, trip in essay contest

Students can vie for extra cash and make their voices heard on a hot topic in education when they enter The Community College Baccalaureate Association’s 6th Annual CCBA Essay Contest.

Applicants must write an essay between 400 and 500 words about “Why obtaining a four-year degree on my community college campus would be important to me.”

The winner will receive $1,000 and an all-expense paid trip to the 6th Annual Community College Baccalaureate Association Conference March 13-15 in Reno-Tahoe, Nev. As an added bonus $1,000 will be awarded to the Student Government Association at the winner’s college.

To learn more visit

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Author teaches English online

Published Valley author Margot McDonnell is a whiz at crafting spine-tingling adventures.
Last Sunday McDonnell was at Changing Hands Bookstore talking about her latest novel Torn to Pieces published by Delacorte Books.

But she’s also gifted at translating her expertise of the language to its most basic form as a developmental English teacher at Rio Salado College.

A creative writer with a flair for words, McDonnell finds great satisfaction teaching students who aren’t quite ready to master college-level English classes.

A long-time Advanced Placement High School English teacher, McDonnell has been teaching English at Rio Salado since 1993.

“I really enjoy the people I work with now. My students are really grateful for any help they get,” McDonnell said.

Teaching punctuation, sentence structure and correct grammar online can be challenging.
“It takes a special person with a lot of talent to teach developmental English online and Margot is “the best,” Betsy Frank Rio Salado College English Faculty Chair said. “She’s just awesome with students.”

McDonnell is also fond of the online format. A travel buff, McDonnell said she doesn’t like to leave town if she’s teaching an in-person class. But as an online teacher she can pack up her laptop and hit the road.

“I can still keep in touch with my students through the Internet. It’s really easy for me,” said McDonnell.

Writing has always been a passion for McDonnell. She began writing at seven by imitating stories she had read. By the time she was nine she was writing her own original stories sometimes as a takeoff from a famous version of the tale. She once wrote a story about Cinderella’s life after she got married.

An avid reader, McDonnell admits she had a wonderful childhood growing up in Wisconsin with inspiring examples to follow. Her Dad wrote eight volumes of his life story complete with photographs and her mother composed music.

McDonnell spent just over a month writing her second novel, which is targeted for young adult readers. The story is of a young girl whose mother disappears. From early on McDonnell vowed someday she would write a book the entire family could read.
Being a published author is a “total thrill” for McDonnell.

“I really like being a published author. This time I knew I had something that was publishable,” said McDonnell who belongs to a writers group.

The writers group provided invaluable criticism of her new book before she sent it to be published.

“They told me every flaw. They were so good,” McDonnell said.
McDonnell's new book is available at local bookstores and
Rio Salado College has more than 1200 adjunct faculty who teach nearly 450 courses. Most are accomplished professionals well-versed in their subject area.

Rio Salado College is one of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges with more than 60,000 students. The largest college in terms of headcount of the Maricopa Community College District, Rio Salado offers courses in general education classes like English, math and science along with a variety of degrees and certificates all online. For course registration or more information about programs call 480-517-8540 or go to

New innovation courses underway to inspire

Downsizing and need some creative solutions? Want to be the next Bill Gates? Committed to lean thinking but need a new approach?

Guess what? Innovative thinking can be learned just like any other skill.

That’s the idea behind new courses currently being developed by Rio Salado College.

The courses on innovation were announced last week at a special meeting for business, government, industry and community-based organizations throughout the metro area. The event “Powered by Innovation: Strategies for Ingenuity & Transformation” kicked off the college’s commitment to creative thinking.

“It’s often said that at Rio Salado innovation is our middle name,” Rio Salado College President Linda Thor said. “We were established in a spirit of innovation as a college without physical boundaries to educate primarily working adults.”

“We are passionate believers that a college degree should be convenient, accessible and affordable to all.”

Committed to innovation, Rio Salado will be offering the national innovation curriculum online.

The national curriculum was developed by a team of 22 Continuous Quality Improvement Network (CQIN) colleges and a $15 million Department of Labor investment.

Top innovators in the country including experts from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines including education, health care, hospitality, entertainment, marketing, retail, financial services, manufacturing, business science, technology and fine arts produced lessons for teaching innovative thinking.

Innovation is a fundamental part of the human condition, developers of the curriculum said.

“Everyone has the capacity to be innovative – and the skills to produce innovation can be identified and taught to virtually anyone,” said developers.

The Rio Salado courses are currently undergoing the Maricopa Community College District approval process and are expected to be ready sometime in the spring of 2009.

The courses include 23 basic competencies developed with the idea of helping adults focus on learning and increasing their skills set for innovation. These competencies including curiosity, discovery, integration, vision, syntheses, collaboration, ideation, leadership, communication, courage, introspection, persistence, flexibility and ethics.

Instead of textbooks and lectures, learners are exposed to videos, animated stories and game-like activities to prod creative thinking.

“In today’s economy many in business and industry will be forced to come up with innovative solutions to problems. The courses will teach students the skills they didn’t know existed,” said Laura Helminski who is one of the people spearheading the project at Rio Salado College.

The curriculum is designed for anyone interested in learning how to be innovative including technicians, administrators, engineers and CEO’s.

Plans are in place to offer the courses in credit and non-credit formats for individuals, business, industry and governmental partners.

The course work, two years in development, was beta tested by 112 Rio Salado faculty and community members including those from business and industry. Feedback was positive and many commented there was a need to teach people how to be innovative as soon as it is ready, Helminski said.

Rio Salado College is one of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges. Serving more than 60,000 students, the college offers more than 450 online classes and start dates every Monday. Information about the innovation courses are available at

Monday, September 22, 2008

Outstanding faculty honored

By day Allison Gee travels the west appraising costly American and European art including rare sculptures and expensive paintings.

On her off hours she translates her passion for the fine arts using her expertise to nudge students to a new level of appreciation.

As a Rio Salado College humanities instructor, Gee finds immense satisfaction in teaching her students about a subject she’s passionate about.

“I love teaching. I love the whole academic aspect of art,” Gee said. “I just feel really happy I can make a difference and help someone love art and see that art is all around us. It’s not just something in a book it can add something to our lives.”

Tuesday, Gee along with 27 other Rio Salado instructors, were honored for their efforts as Rio Salado College Outstanding Adjunct Faculty for 2007-08.

Rio Salado has more than 1,200 adjunct faculty teachers and 450 online courses. “Our adjunct faculty play an important role in the college. Our instructors are highly qualified professionals with expertise in the subject area. Their contribution to the college is very valuable,” Karen Mills, Rio Salado College Vice-President of Teaching and Learning said.

Gee, who has a master's degree in art history, travels throughout the west including Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and California in her job as a fine arts appraiser. She’s appraised priceless collections and original works of art including a Picasso and Warhol.

“I get to see so many different artists and I am exposed to so much,” said Gee. “Every day is different.”

Her job as an appraiser requires many hours of research, something she finds very exciting. Her position as adjunct faculty works very well with her schedule as a small business owner. If she travels out-of-state she still has access to her students as an online faculty member.

The former president of the Phoenix-Metro Chapter of the American Society of Appraisers, Gee recently became an officer for the ASA’s National Personal Property Committee and is accredited through the American Society of Appraisers as a senior member. Accredited appraisers must pass a difficult test to become accredited.

Also slated for recognition is Debra Cloud, an adjunct math teacher. Cloud has taught math for more than 29 years, 16 at Rio Salado College. A full-time math teacher at McClintock High School, Cloud who spends her evening and weekends teaching online says “you can’t have enough math.”

Cloud began teaching at Rio Salado in a traditional classroom before Rio Salado College’s online program began. Cloud admits she was hooked in just one class.

“To hear my students talk and see their desire was just amazing,” Cloud said. “They knew the benefits of the class and they were willing to put the work in that’s required.”

Born and raised in Minnesota, Cloud who spent a year in Egypt while in elementary school knew by high school she wanted to teach.

“Math makes you think and I am big on thinking,” Cloud said.

Each year the college honors dedicated adjunct faculty who make the college experience a positive one.

“Adjunct faculty contribute greatly to the academic excellence at Rio Salado College," Mills said. “Our faculty are our connection to our students. They are an integral part of college.”

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rio Salado tutors boost students' confidence

Before taking a math mid-term, a subject many find challenging, Rio Salado College student Anthony DeJulio knew just where to go to sort out tough equations.

DeJulio, 23, headed straight for Rio Salado’s Tutoring Center in Tempe to get one-on-one help from tutor Andrew Pyon.

“It’s probably (my) most challenging subject,” DeJulio said.

DeJulio is like many Rio Salado students who find the help they need to earn the grades they desire with the college’s tutoring services.

Any time day or night Rio Salado students who are stumped in a class can get help in a variety of formats.

Students can click, call or walk to get tutoring in a subject.

Rio Salado students can access a live chat tutoring session online to get instant feedback or they can e-mail questions to tutors, typically receiving responses within 24 hours. They may also opt for one-on-one, face-to-face guidance at the in-person Tutoring Center or call a tutor for assistance.

Tutoring services are free and no appointments are needed. Tutoring is offered in 20 subjects including the most popular – math, chemistry, accounting, computers, statistics, English and Spanish.

Students can access tutoring online in math, science, writing, economics and other subjects when they click on the SMARTHINKING link at their RioLearn class portals. Live chat tutoring in math is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and help is offered in other subjects several days a week, Dina Geiman, Rio Salado’s coordinator of Tutoring Services said.

Students are usually connected to the live chat SMARTHINKING tutor within seconds of logging on. If they prefer, students can schedule live chats with a tutor ahead of time.

In-person tutoring is offered at Rio Salado’s administrative headquarters in Tempe several days a week. Many of the tutors are Maricopa Community Colleges adjunct faculty and more than half have advanced degrees beyond a bachelor’s degree in the subject they tutor, Geiman said.

DeJulio said tutor Pyon helped him reinforce the math concepts he already knew and learn what he didn’t know already.

“I tried figuring it out (alone) and it wasn’t working,” he said.

DeJulio, who works as a bartender and is considering a business major, said Pyon had “pretty much just broken down and went step by step” in the math problems.

“It (math) is a hard subject for a lot of people,” said Pyon, who has a bachelor’s degree in bio-engineering. “A lot of times students come in and they know the answer but they lack confidence.”

“All of Rio Salado’s tutors have either teaching or tutoring experience and are experts in their subjects,” Geiman said. “Any time you need help you can sit down with a tutor or access tutoring online. Our department’s motto is, ‘Smart Students Use Tutors.’”

Rio Salado’s in-person Tutoring Center is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Tempe administrative headquarters, 2323 W. 14th St. Hours that tutors are available in specific subjects are posted at or available by calling 480-517-8247. Live-chat tutoring hours are listed when you click on SMARTHINKING on your RioLearn class portal.

Rio Salado College, one of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges, offers more than 450 online classes. The college serves 60,000 students annually, including 31,000 online. Rio Salado offers degrees and career and technical certificates in business, computer technology, early childhood and teacher education, healthcare, law enforcement and more. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to

Monday, September 8, 2008

Dental assisting program offers hot job prospects

By February, after just nine months of class, Rio Salado College student April Hileman expects to be working in a new career as a dental assistant.

Pretty impressive in a state whose economy has taken a beating and careers with hot job prospects are as valuable as a cool breeze come mid-July in the Arizona desert.

Before tackling her new career, Hileman will spend 300 hours working with a licensed dentist and donating her time at the Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS), a dental clinic serving the homeless in downtown Phoenix.

Hileman isn’t the only student looking for a new career with excellent prospects. Enrollment in the only online dental assisting program in the country has doubled since the program received national accreditation from the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation last year.

One of only three accredited programs in the state, Rio Salado’s program received the maximum accreditation which is good for seven years.

For Hileman, the mother of two boys ages two and five, the online delivery of the course was a vital component of a program.

“I like the time factor you have to do it,” Hileman said. “I get up at four in the morning to do my class work and then the rest of the day I can still be a stay-at-home mom.”

The online program also allows students to work at their own paces.

“You can do it over and over again until you get it,” said Hileman as she practiced the correct technique for bitewings for dental x-rays. The program also provides free tutoring which Hileman took advantage of for a challenging section on radiology (x-rays).

As part of the course work students in the program receive a complete lab kit which includes all the dental materials they need to learn at home.

“The good thing is you have all these tools at your fingertips,” said Hileman.

Gaining the American Dental Association stamp of approval for the only online accredited program in the country wasn’t easy. The accreditation team spent hours assessing Rio Salado’s program.

“We were probably scrutinized at a higher degree,” Nicole Albo, Rio Salado dental assisting faculty chair said. “Since we were the first, the Commission wanted to make sure our online program more than met the standards of the accrediting body.”

The newly earned accreditation will allow students in the program to earn their associate degree along with a certificate in completion in dental assisting.

Students graduating from an accredited program traditionally have the capacity to earn more and the accreditation is recognized in 37 states. Many states won’t allow dental assistants to work unless they graduate from an accredited program and are certified.

Besides lots of job prospects starting wages for a dental assistant average between $10 and $12 an hour. The average wage for a certified dental assistant in Arizona is $17.50, Albo said.

Many of the credits required for the dental assisting program are prerequisites for Rio Salado’s dental hygiene program making the program the perfect pathway for advancing a career or education, Albo said.

Although class work is all online students complete an in-person internship and volunteer at CASS.

“Part of being a responsible citizen is serving the community and our program really instills that community service,” Albo said.

Initially created to serve students in rural areas who did not have the ability to travel to the Phoenix metro area to get an education, the program has students from around the state.

Students are enrolled who live in Douglas, Prescott, Tucson, The San Carlos Indian Reservation and other rural communities.

Classes for the Rio Salado dental assisting program start four times a year every August, October, January and April. Deadlines for applications are available on the Rio Salado web site at

Rio Salado College serves more than 60,000 students, more than 30,000 of which are online. One of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges, Rio Salado offers general education courses including English, math, science and history and also a variety of degrees and certificates. For course registration or more information about programs call 480-517-8540 or go to

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Online enrollment grows at Rio Salado

Ready for college? Looking for additional education so you can get promoted or start a new career? There’s a good chance you’ll be taking class from the comfort of your home.

Online education is no longer the new kid on the block but has become a popular way of gaining an education. So popular that enrollment grew by nearly 14% from 2007 to 2008 at Rio Salado College. And in the last six years online education has grown by a whopping 39% at the college.

“There’s been a fundamental shift in the perception and availability in online education,” Vernon Smith, Rio Salado College Dean of Teaching and Learning said.

“People are increasingly comfortable with online technology. They do their banking, shopping and even their dating online,” Smith said.

“I can foresee the day when students will board the light rail and complete a lesson or do their homework on the way to work," said Smith, who admits in the future wireless Internet connections with public access will make online education even more accessible for students.

It was 12 years ago in 1996 when Rio Salado, a pioneer in the field, offered its first online classes. The college began its first semester with less than 500 students. One semester later online enrollment had tripled and has continued to grow to more than 30,000.

And while enrollment has slowed or even declined in many traditional classrooms online enrollment at Rio Salado continues to grow.

Lured by the convenience of attending class where and when they want it, students are signing up in increasing numbers convinced they are receiving the same quality of education without the hassle of a classroom.

“Online learning overcomes the barriers of parking, time and transportation,” Smith said. “Online classes fit a student’s schedule and don’t force the students to meet the schedule of the class.”

“Those barriers that would have been a problem have been overcome. Rio’s online classes have developed a reputation for excellence and with our online support system students are no longer fearful,” Smith said.

“We really have an incredible support system.” Smith said. “We have free tutoring, and technical help as well as RioLearn, our state-of-the art course delivery system,” he said.

Most colleges vary widely on their online delivery as it's based on each individual instructor.

RioLearn is used for all of Rio Salado’s classes.

“Once you’ve done a class with us you don’t have to relearn the path to success,” Smith said.

Arizona Army National Guard Spc. Neah Ndiaye said Rio Salado’s online classes are great because she can access them while travelling with the military. Ndiaye hopes to eventually earn a bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering.

“It’s awesome,” she said. “It works very well for us,” she said adding that RioLearn is “very user-friendly.”

Katie Shotwell, 22, likes Rio Salado’s online classes and wants to pursue a bachelor’s degree in American Indian Studies.

“I like it because I have two kids,” she said. “It’s easy for me to work and do classes.

“The speed is pretty fast. It’s easy to navigate RioLearn,” Shotwell added.

She said she believes there is “more credibility” to online colleges now than several years ago.

Jennifer Heiser, 27, is taking Rio Salado classes in hopes of later earning a degree in non-profit management.

“I definitely get things done much faster online compared with in-person classes,” Heiser said.

And as new technology become available Rio Salado, known for being an innovator in education, keeps pace.

“We have explored utilizing mobile technology for a variety of processes at the college including registration via text messaging, flash cards on cell phones, course components on cell phones, threaded discussion, instant messaging, chats, and certainly, virtual reality,” Rio Salado College Vice President Karen Mills said.

Rio Salado College is one of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges. The college offers degrees and career and technical certificates in business, computer technology, early childhood and teacher education, healthcare, law enforcement and more. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to