Monday, January 26, 2009

Economy downturn perfect time for career assessment

TEMPE – January 26, 2009 – With the economy in dire straits, and with the start of a new year, more and more people are looking to make personal and professional changes to better their lives. For those considering a career change, whether due to choice or economic circumstances, Rio Salado College offers a career exploration class to help people assess professional goals and options.

“Historically, when there is a rise in unemployment, people go back to school,” said Melanie Abts, counseling faculty at Rio Salado College, who teaches the online Career Exploration class. “I have students who are unemployed, who have been laid off, and one who already has three master’s degrees, but they are looking for something new,” she said.

Abts said enrollment in the online class has recently increased, not only for economic reasons, but because of the college’s positive environment. “The advantage is that students don’t have to come in person to work on their career or education searches,” Abts said. In addition to the career exploration class, Rio Salado also offers career and counseling services by chat, email, online and phone.

Student Maiko Zemnick, 36, recently completed the online Career Exploration class and found it beneficial. “It showed me that your values and interests as a person all count in what career is suited for you,” Zemnick said. “Before, I used to think about it only in practical terms, and that resulted in a lot of frustration.”

While she comes from a family of ministers, Zemnick has decided to pursue her interest in teaching music. As a mother to an autistic son, Zemnick is interested in using her skills in taiko (Japanese drums) as a means of music therapy and stress relief to help families dealing with autism.

Components of the “Career Exploration” class include goal-setting, online assessments and planning for the future. Students are assessed for their personal interests, strengths and skills to help design their individual career plan.

The course also examines current occupational trends and outlooks to assist students with career selection and vocational training options.

Abts cites a recent trend in students applying for the teaching program. “If you have a Bachelor’s degree in any field, you can go back to school for a teaching certificate, which is obtainable in 1.5-2 years, and know you’ll have a job when you’re done,” she said.

Rachelle Clarke, Rio Salado’s director of advisement and recruitment services, echoes the trend. “We are working with more students than we have in the past months and year,” Clarke said. “The majority of our students are interested in re-careering. The top 3 fields which students are interested in are teacher education, nursing and business.”

With the current unemployment rate hovering at 6.3% (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), now is the perfect time to reassess your career options. For more information on the Career Exploration class, or other educational options, visit

Rio Salado, founded in 1978, is one of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona. The college serves more than 60,000 students annually, more than half online, making it the “college within everyone’s reach.” Rio Salado offers general education courses as well as a variety of degree and certificate programs. For more information visit

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Teacher wouldn’t leave class for a million bucks

Some teachers are so passionate about teaching even $1 million won’t budge them from the classroom.

Rio Salado College instructor Kathleen Remick is one of them. She has no plans to retire even though she recently won $1 million in the St. Joseph Hospital Health and Wealth Raffle.

“I like teaching. I never wanted to do anything else. I love every minute of it,” Remick said.

An elementary schoolteacher for 32 years, Remick retired in 2003 but found she wasn’t quite ready to forgo teaching completely. She spent some time as a substitute teacher and then she found her niche as an online teacher at Rio Salado College, where she teaches others how to teach.

“It was a weaning process,” she said. “I had to wean myself away from having 25 children every day to working with adults. It’s worked out very well, and I really enjoy it.”

Online teaching allows Remick to experience all the rewards of teaching but with the flexibility to create her own schedule. She is no longer required to keep regular hours or times. She can teach when and where she wants.

She’s also found her concerns about developing positive relationships with students without the face-to-face contact weren’t valid.

“I was surprised at what a close relationship you can have with your online students through e-mail,” Remick said.

Remick developed such a close relationship with one student stationed in Iraq she continued to correspond even after the student finished the class. Remick even sent her a care package several weeks after the class was completed.

And some months later, when the student’s daughter was deployed to Iraq, the student wrote Remick about the event. Remick now sends packages on a regular basis.

A reading teacher, Remick teaches Rio Salado undergraduates, certified teachers working on endorsements, those in the post-baccalaureate teacher prep program and teacher-in-residence students how to teach youngsters to read.

“Reading is one of the most important subjects to teach,” Remick said. “If you can’t read, it’s hard to function,” Remick said.

Remick is thrilled with the success of her students. Most of her classes have practicums requiring students to practice their skills tutoring students.

“The feedback from students as they use the concepts they have learned in class are as rewarding to me as it is for them,” Remick said.

Remick also likes working for an institution that offers high-quality education classes for those preparing for a lifetime of instructing young minds.

“I am just very impressed with all the programs, how they are run and how everything, and everyone works together toward the same goal. It is just amazing,” Remick said.

Rio Salado College is one of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges. The college has an extensive education program including post-baccalaureate teaching certification for K-12 teachers, professional development and specialty endorsements courses. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Registration dates set for free GED and English classes

Rio Salado College is holding open enrollment for free G.E.D. and English classes at locations throughout the Valley. Registration dates begin Jan. 12 and continue through Jan.13. Those interested in enrolling can visit one of Rio Salado College’s learning centers on the following dates or call 480-517-8110 or 480-377-4050 or visit the website at

Locations and dates for in-person registration:

Rio 7th Avenue
Learning Center
619 N. 7th Avenue, Phoenix
1/12 & 1/13

Rio Avondale Learning Center
420 N. Central Ave., Avondale
Call to obtain information on orientation and registration

Rio Ann Ott Learning Center
1801 S. 12th Street, Phoenix
1/12 & 1/13

Rio East Valley
Learning Center
1455 S. Stapley, Ste. #15 Mesa
1/12 & 1/16

Rio Orangewood Learning Center
2730 W. Orangewood Ave., Phoenix
1/12 & 1/13

Rio Lifelong Learning Center
12535 Smokey Dr., Surprise
Call to obtain information on orientation and registration

Rio Scottsdale Adult Learning Center
1170 N. 86th Way., Scottsdale
1/12 & 1/13

Rio PV Mall
Learning Center
4550 E. Cactus Rd., Phoenix
1/12 & 1/13

Honor students earn state scholarships

In 2001, Marina Vogt moved from Bulgaria to the United States to be with her husband. Living in New York, she struggled those early years trying to care for their children, work and learn the English language.

Vogt has come a long way since that difficult time. Vogt and fellow Rio Salado student Alexandra Bird were recently selected as the college's nominees to the All-Arizona Academic Team.
The program recognizes the best and brightest community college students across the state, based on their grades, leadership, community service efforts and recommendation letters.

Honorees, who are often members of the Phi Theta Kappa Society, a national community college organization, receive full-tuition waivers to any Arizona public university as well as cash stipends.

"It felt good," Vogt said. "It was very surprising. I was flattered and very happy they chose me."
In February, Vogt and team members selected from community colleges across the state will be recognized at an awards banquet being held at the Fiesta Inn Resort in Tempe. There they will learn if they are ranked on the first-, second- or third-place teams, receiving $1,000, $750 or $500 stipends, respectively.

Phi Theta Kappa, two-year college presidents and community college state associations sponsor competitions offered in 36 states. Bird, vice president of service for Rio's Alpha Theta Omicron chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, has a 4.0 grade-point average. She will graduate in May with an associate degree. Her career goal is to be an archaeologist or a cultural anthropologist.
Vogt, 36, a mother of two, has a 4.0 grade-point average. A longtime dental assistant, she plans to graduate in May with an associate in applied science degree in dental hygiene. She is vice president of Rio Salado's Phi Theta Kappa Society.

The two students' grades, strong leadership and heavy community service involvement made it easy to select them for the team, said Janine Adkins, Rio Salado Phi Theta Kappa Society lead faculty adviser.
"It is extremely difficult to find students who have a 4.0 who have taken such a wide array of classes," said Adkins, who is also Rio Salado's faculty chairwoman for humanities and history. "Knowing the community service work they've done and the excellent leadership they have demonstrated further validated that they are the perfect choice."

Vogt, who had previously worked as an architect in her native Russia, moved with her family from New York to Arizona in 2004.

"I was looking for jobs," Vogt said. "I knew I had to start at some kind of school."
She worked at a dentist's office and immediately liked helping patients.
Vogt found an online chemistry class at Rio Salado in 2006 and has been hooked on the college ever since.

She loves assisting patients with their oral hygiene at Rio Salado's dental hygiene clinic in downtown Phoenix and at a veterans' hospital, Boys and Girls Club and other organizations.
Part of a rapidly growing field, dental hygienists provide preventive dental care to patients and teach them good oral-health practices.

"You have to have constant concentration and you have to be very organized," Vogt said. "I love everything we study."

She and the other students on state academic teams are also nominated to the All-USA Academic Team, where they could earn more cash stipends.

Vogt plans to use her tuition waiver to attend Northern Arizona University, where she wants to pursue a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene. Eventually, she wants to become a dentist.

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