Friday, April 18, 2008

Rio Commencement and G.E.D. Graduation Set for May 6 and 7

On May 7, Rio Salado College will hold commencement exercises for students earning associate degrees and certificates. Students earning their G.E.D. (high school equivalency diploma) will be honored in a ceremony on May 6.

Both events will begin at 7:00 p.m. and will take place at the Orpheum Theater, 203 W. Adams St. in Phoenix. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.

Rio Salado will be awarding 377 degrees and 3,580 certificates to graduates.

This year’s theme, ‘Sustain Your Momentum’, encourages students to continue to pursue their dreams after college. Now that they have accomplished the goal of graduating from Rio Salado, it is a time to make new goals and keep going.

Commencement will feature two student speakers who represent sustaining momentum.

Dawn Beck earned her associate degree in arts at an accelerated pace, completing more than 53 credit hours in nine months and will continue on to get her master’s degree. Michael Cardenas, who has earned his associate degree in public administration, works as an administrative assistant at the State Bar of Arizona and plans to continue on to law school.

The speaker at the G.E.D. graduation will be Patrick Thomas.

For more information about Rio Salado Commencement or the G.E.D. graduation, visit

Employers Come to Students at 6th Annual Teacher Career Fair

On Thursday, April 17, prospective teachers connected with more than 50 employers at the 6th Annual Teacher Career Fair at Rio Salado College.

Representatives from public school districts, colleges and charter schools met with Rio Salado Education students in the hopes of filling their schools’ many open teaching positions.

In addition to visiting booths at the career fair, 31 students signed up for one-on-one interviews with several of the employers they were most interested in. Working with the employment representatives, Rio Salado arranged 137 interviews for students in its Education program.

This was the largest teacher career fair in Rio Salado’s history, and many employers look forward to it every year.

“We participate each year because we have a good working partnership with Rio Salado,” said Shawnee Worters, director of recruitment for Tempe Union High School District. “We appreciate the flexibility of the Rio Salado program and the opportunity it offers students to get their certification quickly.”

The career fair was free and open to the public.

Rio Salado College, located in Tempe, AZ has more than 450 online classes with start dates every Monday. The college offers degrees and certificates in business, education, healthcare, law enforcement and more. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Students Learn Government Process in Forum

Over the past year Rio Salado College student Pedro Rodriguez has had a crash course in Arizona public policy.

He’s met with state legislators, lobbied congressional members and traveled to Capitol Hill as a member of the Maricopa County Community College District Student Public Policy Forum.

In December, Rodriguez who has taken classes concurrently at Arizona State and Rio Salado, will graduate from ASU with degrees in both political science and history. He also recently earned his certification in public administration at Rio Salado College.
“I’m finally getting back to finishing up the degree,” said Rodriguez, who returned to college after a 16-year hiatus.

But while he’s pushed his way through his studies at both Rio Salado and ASU, he admits some of his more rewarding experiences have been with the public policy forum.
“I met members of Arizona’s congressional caucus and the governor’s office. I gained firsthand experience of the legislative challenges and realities with discussions ranging from sustainability to the long-term impact of community colleges,” said Rodriguez.

“But I would have to say meeting students from across the Maricopa Colleges with diverse backgrounds and interests speaks volumes of the ideals and goals behind the Student Forum,” said Rodriguez.

Every year two students from each of the ten Maricopa community colleges are selected to be part of the program. Over the course of the school year, students spend five interactive sessions getting an up close and a personal look at the workings of state and local government.
At the end of the five sessions students travel to Washington D.C. meeting with legislators to discuss federal legislation that impacts community colleges.

This year students focused on financial aid, the Dream Act, Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and a number of other issues important to students at the community college, said Chad Douwstra, director of the student public policy forum at MCCCD.
Involvement in public policy has a profound change on students. Not only do the students gain insight into the legislative process they also develop leadership skills and become skilled oral and written communicators, said Douwstra.

“Each year I am just amazed at the changes in students from the beginning when we meet in October to the end when we visit Capitol Hill. Students gain a greater sense of confidence about themselves and their ability to impact public policy,” said Douwstra.
Students also learn another valuable lesson. Before becoming involved with the program many students feel public policy doesn’t affect them and they don’t want to be involved. When they finish the program they realize they can and do have a part in creating public policy, said Douwstra.

Rodriguez’s won’t forget his trip to Washington.
“It’s one thing to sit in a classroom and study Congress and the budget process, but physically walking into the offices of Congressmen Harry Mitchell or Raul Grijalva or speaking with (former Arizona Senator) Dennis DeConcini really had an impact on us. More importantly, I like to think our time and energy had an impact on these officials as well.”

Rio Salado College, located in Tempe, is one of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges, with more than 450 online classes with start dates every Monday. The college offers degrees and certificates in business, education, health care, law enforcement and more. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"Kid of the Week" Honored at Phoenix Zoo

One day a week Hunter Nash volunteers at the Wild at Heart Owl Rehabilitation Center. Hunter reads to the owls at the facility so they will get used to a human voice. Hearing a human voice on a regular basis helps them so they won’t be afraid and can be used for educational purposes.

Hunter also goes to the owl rehab center on days when he doesn’t have school to help his mom and the caretakers clean the cages. A student at Black Mountain Elementary School in the Cave Creek Unified School District, Hunter will be at the Phoenix Zoo next week, a winner of the Rio Salado College and Mix 96.9 FM “Kid of the Week” contest. The award is given to students who deserve special recognition for making a difference in their community.

Each week during the school year a student is selected as the “Kid of the Week”. At the end of the year these outstanding students are honored before friends and family at a banquet held at the Phoenix Zoo. This year, 28 students will be honored for their academic achievement, community participation and outstanding citizenship. Hosting the April 10th event will be Rio Salado College and Mix 96.9’s Chris Parker and Gina Taylor. The following is a list of winners:
March 31, 2008
Patricia Leon-Cleary
Kyrene Del Norte
March 24, 2008
Trisha Artman
Chaparral High School
March 17, 2008
Abby Moon
CASY Country Day School
March 10, 2008
Hunter Nash
Black Mountain Elementary
March 3, 2008
Sondell Cross
North Canyon High School
February 25, 2008
Ariana Griego
Mesa High School
February 18, 2008
Tanner Robarge
Oaktree Elementary
February 11, 2008
Ariel Contreras
Gilbert High School
February 4, 2008
Ryan Buckley
Mesquite High School
January 28, 2008
Chelsea Cannon
Verrado High School
January 21, 2008
Cody Seaver
Paradise Education Center
January 14, 2008
Morgan LaBarbera
Mountain Ridge H.S.
January 7, 2008
Heaven Gutierrez
Country Place Elementary
December 17, 2007
Brandon Hoogstra
Dobson Academy
December 10, 2007
Raja Mendez
Chaparral K-8
December 4, 2007
Anthony Baldwin
Hamilton High School
November 26, 2007
Kyle Johnson
Shea Middle
November 19, 2007
Sierra Niemeyer
Tonalea Elementary
November 12, 2007
Pueblo Elementary
November 5, 2007
Olivia Kusel
Kyrene Middle School
October 29, 2007
Tyler Clark
Cheyenne Elementary
October 22, 2007
Alek Williams
Desert Sky Middle School
October 15, 2007
Melissa McDonald
Barry Goldwater High School
October 8, 2007
Breonna Crosser
Catalina Ventura
October 1, 2007
Brandon Jonaitis II
Francis-Brandon Pickett Elemen
September 24, 2007
Sara Manganaro
Benjamin Franklin Charter
September 17, 2007
Dakoda Lee Heiser
Highland Jr. High
September 12, 2007
Ian Loggins
Cambridge Academy East

Rio Salado College Holds 6th Annual Teacher Career Fair

Education major Sarah McWilliams has yet to receive her teaching certificate but she already has interviews with five different school districts.

McWilliams, who will receive her post baccalaureate teaching degree in May from Rio Salado College, will interview on April 17 at the Rio Salado College 6th Annual Teacher Career Fair.
The fair, a community wide event connecting public, charter and private schools with potential teacher candidates, is a yearly event at Rio Salado.

The year’s fair is expected to be the largest in Rio Salado’s history with more than 48 school districts/schools and dozens of teacher candidates to be in attendance at the event.

“The career fair is a great opportunity for teacher applicants to meet with districts seeking to fill positions and to recruit new teacher interns in high need areas,” said Janine Weyers, Rio Salado College field experience coordinator. The free event is open to the public. Job seekers are encouraged to bring their resumes and certification to distribute to school districts.

Participants will have the chance to learn about school districts throughout the state including benefits and programs available to new employees, said Weyers.
McWilliams, who hopes to teach English, says the career fair will save her time and money while allowing her to become acquainted with prospective employers.

“I think it’s great. It will definitely be convenient for me to attend one fair for five interviews. It makes my life as a working person much easier,” said McWilliams.
The event has a record of success in pairing newly certified teachers with school districts with openings.

“We’ve had students leave the career fair with a contract,” said Mary Briden Rio Salado College Director of Educational Programs and Partnerships
McWilliams, who graduated in journalism from University of Kansas, has been working in education for the past four years. She’s become so enthralled with education she decided to go back to college and earn her teaching certification.
“I can’t wait to get started on my teaching career,” said McWilliams.

She also attended Rio Salado College’s teacher prep program master teacher interview skills workshop. The three-hour workshop focuses on how teaching candidates can best present themselves when interviewing for a job.

“I think it was a good idea. It’s nice encouragement for us to do well in our interviews,’ said McWilliams.

Rio Salado College has a variety of teacher preparation programs including the only online post baccalaureate program in the state. Geared for busy adults with careers and families, the online program allows students to earn a teaching certificate from the comfort of their home. Begun seven years ago, the program has earned a reputation of making dreams come true.
“We’ve had students come to us with tears in their eyes so grateful for an online program. Before the online program there was no college flexible enough to allow students with demanding schedules to get their education," said Briden.

McWilliams has managed to finish the program in two years while working full-time.
Students in the post baccalaureate program do their student teaching and classroom practicums in person but the rest of the course work can be done online. In addition to the post baccalaureate program in early childhood, elementary, secondary and special education, the college also has early childhood undergraduate and professional development courses, specialty endorsement certificates and classes for K-12 educators.

A new program added this year allows students to earn 90 credits of education classes at Rio Salado and then transfer them to Northcentral University to complete their teaching degree online. The benefits include 90 hours at the community college cost, said Briden.

Rio Salado College, located in Tempe, AZ has more than 450 online classes with start dates every Monday. The college offers degrees and certificates in business, education, healthcare, law enforcement and more. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to

Rio Salado College
6th Annual Teacher Career Fair
Thursday, April 17 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Rio Salado College Conference Center
2323 West 14th Street
Tempe, AZ
Free and open to the public

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rio Salado College Wins Innovation of the Year Award

The Rio Salado College Textbook Savings Program was named the recipient of the Maricopa Community Colleges Innovation of the Year Award for 2007-08 on Friday.

"The Maricopa Innovation of the Year award is designed to recognize employees and acknowledge innovative ideas that have had a positive impact on the education of students,” said Eric Leshinskie Interim District Director Academic Affairs, Support Programs and Services who organized the event.

The Textbook Savings Program was chosen from a field of 11, one from each of the ten Maricopa community colleges and the district office.

Development for the textbook program began more than eighteen months ago by Rio Salado College Vice President Todd Simmons and Vice President Emeritus/Executive Consultant- Online Learning Carol Scarafiotti.

“It is especially wonderful to have the Textbook Savings Program recognized as the Maricopa Innovation of the year because the beneficiary of this innovation is the Rio online student,” said Scarafiotti.

”Students purchasing these textbooks save an average of 51 percent over the previous textbook cost and receive a new textbook with the content customized just for the online course,” said Scarafiotti.

“Rio Salado’s innovation is a great example of what is possible when colleges think outside the box,” said Simmons.

In September 2006 Rio Salado College began looking at ways to address the issue of textbook affordability. In January 2008, the college launched the Textbook Savings Program.

“By adopting custom textbooks that contain only relevant information, purchasing those textbooks from a single publisher, and increasing the number of new books sold, the College was able to achieve an average savings of 51percent,” said Simmons.

Gone are the days of trying to purchase used textbooks or sell the used textbook back at the end of the course, only to find that the bookstore will not purchase it because a new edition has been released, said Simmons.

“Even better, the saving comes when students need it the most -- at the beginning of the course when they also have to pay for tuition,” said Simmons.

As the district winner, Rio Salado will receive the Paul Pair Award, which includes $2,000 for use in furthering the winning innovation. The award is named in memory and honor of Dr. Paul M. Pair, long-time member and former president of the Maricopa Colleges Foundation Board.