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."