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