Monday, August 25, 2008

Sign up now for AZ early childhood director’s conference

Most days Tempe preschool director Peggy Throntveit has more than 135 youngsters under her charge.

She has 6-week-old infants barely able to hold their head, demanding 2-year-olds and rambunctious preschoolers.

On top of that she has books to keep, employees to manage and dozens of state and federal regulations to maintain.

Sometimes her job is nearly overwhelming, as she tries to focus on the needs of her young charges and the demands of running a small business.

But she’s found some help. She recently completed education coursework in early childhood education for her CDA at Rio Salado College and plans on attending a special new conference for folks just like her.

This September Rio Salado College will unveil its new academy for early childhood administrators with a special kickoff event at the Arizona Director’s Conference. Called the Arizona Director’s Academy, conference participants will learn about this is a 12-month experience that will allow directors to earn a degree or certificate in early childhood business or administration.

Designed to give childcare center directors and administrators the skills and education to manage a successful childcare center the academy is unique.

While there are often many courses and classes in early childhood education there is relatively little instruction for administrators who need to run a business but also take care of children, said Rene Manning Program Manager for the Early Childhood & Human Development Undergraduate Studies at Rio Salado College.

Seating is limited for the academy which will keep class size small for better interaction from participants.

Included at the conference will be Arizona experts talking about recruiting and hiring staff, licensure and regulation. Additionally topics on motivating staff, organizational and community leadership and other subjects directly related to running a successful childcare center will be addressed.

Topics addressing specific needs of childcare administrators in Arizona will make the conference especially worthwhile.

“There may be national conferences for childcare administrators but many of the strategies presented don’t work in Arizona with our regulations and focused initiatives,” Manning said.

The small informal conference will also allow childcare administrators to develop a network of others with similar issues. Childcare center administrators often feel isolated stretching to meet the needs of centers open 14 to 16 hours a day.

“Directors don’t have time to create their own network,” said Manning.

Also included in the conference will be helpful information for dealing with the human resources side of running a childcare center including working with women. Statistics show the industry is female dominated with a ratio of 85 percent women. Also contributing to the challenge is staff members ranging in age from those as young as 16 to those edging towards retirement.

“We are working with multiple generations both as employees and parents and families,” Manning said.

But Manning said the most important thing is for administrators to realize there are professional educational opportunities for childcare directors and assistant directors.

“Academy participants will also complete coursework needed to meet national accreditation standards for program director/administrator.”

For more information about the Arizona Director’s Conference or Academy go to click on Training and conferences or call 480-517-8106. The last day to register for the conference is September 17.

Rio Salado also has an extensive list of early childhood programs and course offerings all of which are offered online.

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 course registration or more information about programs call 480-517-8540 or go to

Test Center makes top 100 list seven times

Want to advance your college education without losing credit for previous academic knowledge gained over the years in a different venue?

Rio Salado College lets you do just that.

Students can take the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exam in Rio Salado’s Test Center at Rio @ Tempe.

CLEP is a testing program that gives students the opportunity to earn college credit for learning that is acquired in any type of rigorous classroom setting. Students attending any college may take the CLEP exam at Rio Salado and the credit can be applied to that institution.

For the seventh time, the college’s Test Center has been recognized by the College Board among the top 100 test centers in the country for the number of CLEP exams administered in 2007-08.

“It’s an honor,” Linda Lukey, Rio Salado Director of Testing in Academic Services said. “We make the Test Center very accessible. Our testing hours and accessibility are always designed with the working adult and busy schedules in mind.”

Rio Salado provided 300 CLEP tests in its Test Center at Rio @ Tempe during the 2007-08 fiscal year.

CLEP testing hours are from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday in the Test Center at Rio @ Tempe, 2323 W. 14th St.

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 information on the testing centers call 480-517-8560 or visit

Monday, August 18, 2008

Register for free adult classes, boost career

Having a daughter prompted high school drop-out Zack Sanders to hit the books again.

Sanders said he was 18 when his daughter, Karrie was born. As her primary caregiver, he says he knew he needed to further his education so he could provide a good life for her.

That’s when Sanders decided to take the GED preparation class at Rio Salado College.

“I absolutely loved the staff,” at Rio Salado, Sanders, now 19, said. “If those were my teachers in high school, I wouldn’t have dropped out.

“I guarantee there’s nowhere else I could find teachers that willing to get involved,” he said.

After passing the GED earlier this year, Sanders immediately enrolled in an online medical terminology course at Rio Salado and he hopes to receive his certification as a phlebotomist.

Eventually he said he wants to become a doctor.

Experts say often people turn to education when they are making life transitions or just trying to improve their lives.

Rio Salado College makes it easy for single parents striving to make ends meet, students seeking English language skills to find success or anyone else who wants to further their education.

Rio Salado’s Adult Basic Education (ABE) classes serve 9,000 students a year in 20 centers around the Valley.

Classes are free and are self-paced for adults interested in preparing for the GED, learning English or improving their basic skills in math, reading or writing.

After earning her GED through Rio Salado College earlier this year, JoAnn Keyonnie is on a career path to become a pharmacy technician.

Keyonnie said she was an honor student who enjoyed high school in Flagstaff but when she became pregnant in 1985 she felt compelled to drop out.

She set aside her educational pursuit for the time while she got married and eventually had six more children.

But in 2005, with four of their seven children still living at home, her family experienced a crisis.

Her husband, a diesel mechanic, was injured while working under a bus and was out of work for a month.

“It’s really scary,” Keyonnie, now 41, said. “You yourself really have to think about at that time… how would you survive?”

She took GED preparation classes from friendly Rio Salado instructors, in a setting she described as “comfortable.” Now Keyonnie said she has been taking Rio Salado online classes to become a pharmacy technician.

“We had hands-on learning,” she said. “It’s never too late to get an education. I’m challenging myself every day.”

Rio Salado’s ABE program has many success stories, as Susan John, director of the Scottsdale Adult Learning Center, has witnessed.

“Adults going through a life transition whether it’s age-related or crisis-related frequently will turn to education as a resolution of their transition or crisis,” John said. “About 90 percent of our students feel incapable of solutions until they realize with the assistance of our great Rio Salado program and coach, they can change their lives and move on to a totally new, empowering chapter.”

Now is the perfect time to prepare to earn your GED, take English Language Acquisition for Adults (ELAA) or Adult Basic Education classes because “Super Registrations” are Aug. 25-28 at Rio Salado centers around the Valley.

More than 775,000 Arizona residents ages 18 and older do not possess a high school diploma, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. And 20 percent of Arizona’s adults experience literacy issues that impact their lives and families, their ability to work productively, and their full participation as citizens and residents of Arizona.

“Super Registration” begins Aug. 25 for classes around the Valley. Call the ABE hotline at 480-517-8110 for exact times and to register.

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 more information about ABE programs visit

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 makes registering for class easy

A brand new online student center,, is getting rave reviews from students as the busy fall enrollment season begins.

It took Rio Salado College business major Grant Miller just a few minutes online to enroll this month. Miller signed up for 10 credits to complete his final semester before earning his associate degree in business.

“It’s pretty simple. The way it’s all set up makes sense and everything I needed was there,” said Miller who was elated he skipped the usual registration lines.
The center which debuted in February is expected to make registration simple for thousands of students saving huge amounts of time and money.

With, a system implemented at all ten of the Maricopa Community Colleges, students can register for class, add or drop a class, obtain grades, pay tuition, and request transcripts with just a few clicks of their mouse.
Rio Salado student Pam Duty is thrilled to have an online student center at the touch of her fingertips.

“I love it. It’s really easy. I love being able to control my college experience,” Duty said.
One of the most promising features of the new online center at Rio Salado College is the process for enrolling for class. Students are able to search the online schedule for the class they want. A featured shopping cart makes it simple for students to add the requested class to their schedule. And once the selection is made students are able to follow simple online procedures to enroll.
Students have been eager to use the online feature. In June alone more than 48 percent of Rio Salado’s 26,000 online students accessed In the past students using Rio Salado’s online student services was less than 10 percent.

Gail Elbourne, 34, a mother of two, said using was “very convenient.”
“It was easy to navigate,” Elbourne said. “I could do it from home.” said the Chemical Dependency major.

The new online student center also is the first time all ten of the Maricopa Community Colleges are linked together allowing student information to travel with a student from one college to another.

The easy to navigate self-service features make long lines for student services a thing of the past.

“We think it’s very easy. has all the features students need from the quick admit to enrolling for class,” Kishia Brock Dean of Enrollment Management said.
“Basically anything you could do in a registration office you can do at,” Brock said.

“The new online center will also allow the college to focus on programs that really affect student’s success like retention and recruitment,” said Brock.

With the self-service features of the new center and Rio Salado’s weekly start dates students can register for class on Sunday and be doing homework by Monday night.
“We are the only community college in the country that has weekly start dates and an online student center giving students a real edge in controlling their schedule, “Brock said.
Within 24 hours of registering for class an e-mail is sent to students with a link to Rio Salado’s Quick Start. The Quick Start link gives students all the information they need to get started on their class, Brock 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

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

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sun Sounds director receives award

Bill Pasco, Director of Sun Sounds of Arizona, received the 2008 Americans with Disabilities (ADA) “Liberty Accessibility Advocate” award from the Arizona Disability Advocacy Coalition (AZDAC) on July 25 at a celebration at the Arizona State Capitol in honor of the 18th anniversary of the ADA. Amina Kruck, AZDAC Chair, presented the award and thanked Pasco.

“The Liberty Accessibility Advocate award honors a community member who advocates for equal access for people with disabilities. We recognize Bill Pasco for his active involvement and broad work in promoting accessibility in our state,” Kruck said. At the event Gov. Janet Napolitano delivered the keynote address, stating, "the ADA is more than widening doorways or adding ramps. It’s about where those doorways and ramps lead.

"It’s meant to assure quality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency," Napolitano added. "Doorways and ramps are important, but only insofar as they lead to other things.” In accepting the Liberty Accessibility Advocate Award Pasco noted the importance of information access as the key to learning.

“It was not that long ago people with disabilities didn't have the civil rights guarantees of the ADA. Why? Because they did not have access to information, the basis of education and all other forms of learning,” Pasco said. “Some people may believe that the ADA made information access possible. On the contrary, it was access to information that made the ADA possible.

"Information is the companion of thought, more powerful than military force, and the parent of personal freedom," he said. "Of course, if one doesn't have access to that information it's all for not, so it is critical as we go forward to make sure ADA guarantees of access not view information access as a less important afterthought."

Sun Sounds of Arizona, established in 1979, is a radio reading and information service for individuals who are blind or living with a disability that make it difficult or impossible to read print. It is a community outreach service with more than 500 volunteers, and is part of Rio Salado College and KJZZ with affiliate stations located in Flagstaff and Tucson. For eligible persons, Sun Sounds of Arizona is available free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week using special radios, designated cable systems, telephone and the internet.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Rio’s Puente Program bridges gap for online learning

Mountain Pointe High School senior Gilberto Ortega spends hours each week online.
After a full day of class at Mountain Pointe he’s on the computer. Even during the carefree days of summer, Gilberto is often in front of his computer.

Gilberto is no Internet junkie. He’s in a unique new program in which high school students take online college classes. By the time he graduates next May, he expects to have completed five online classes from Rio Salado College.
The program called Rio’s Puente (Bridge) Program is aimed at ensuring Latinos become comfortable with online classes with the idea they will continue taking college classes online once they graduate from high school.

“We want to increase the number of Latino students who take online college courses,” Dr. Larry Celaya, director of Latino Student Outreach, said. “This is the wave of the future and we want to make sure they have every opportunity to succeed, he said. Celaya emphasized the importance of early action to correct the digital divide, which is important for the entire country. .
“This is the right thing to do,” said Celaya.

The new program began last January with students from three Valley high schools including Mountain Pointe, Marcos De Niza and Gilbert High.
Based on recommendations from high school counselors students were selected into the program. Scholarships for tuition are available for all students enrolled.
Before the Puente Program, Gilberto had never enrolled in an online class. Pleasantly surprised at the simplicity of attending class online, Gilberto says he plans to continue with his online studies.

“It seems complicated at first but it’s pretty simple to use. I have no problems,” said Gilberto.
The online English 101 class Gilberto is currently taking this summer has already freed up his schedule so this fall he will be able to fit creative writing into his senior year, an interest he has longed to indulge.

Ashley Bolivar, a senior at Marcos De Niza High School is also enrolled in the program.
“It’s a good way to get some college credit while I am in high school,” Ashley said. “I’m not sure I’ll have the money to pay classes when I am in college,” she said.
Her friends are impressed with her diligence.

“My friends say they wouldn’t be able to handle the extra work,” Ashley said.
Students in the Puente Program start in their junior year of high school. Students attend a one credit hybrid (part-online, part in-person) orientation class. The class teaches students college skills including time management, goal setting, and writing and introduces them to Riolearn, Rio Salado’s course delivery and support system for online learning.
Once students have completed the orientation they sit down with a one-on-one academic advising session and plot their college course work.

High school students benefit from enrolling in college classes. Not only do the classes introduce student to options they have for a college or a university but they are also motivational.
“These classes heighten students’ awareness of their own capability to compete as mainstream college students,” Celaya said. “It’s all about self confidence and self-efficacy.”
Students are mentored throughout the program to ensure success. Ashley admits she never would have considered taking online classes without the Puente program. A zoology or marine biology major hopeful, Ashley is glad she’s in the program.

“It really appealed to me,” she said. I am actually learning a lot.”
The program is available at Mountain Pointe, Marcos De Niza and Gilbert High. Interested students should contact their school counselor.

Rio Salado College is one of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges. The college offers general education requirements like English, math, science, and career and technical certificates and degrees 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