Monday, March 30, 2009

Military Programs Let Students Aim High

Arizona residents who choose a career in the military don’t have to forgo an education thanks to educational programs offered by Rio Salado College.

Rio Salado partners with the Army National Guard Institute, the Coast Guard Institute, eArmyU and GoArmyEd to offer service members a variety of online certificate and degree programs with military emphasis.

“A service member’s mission is to provide protection for the country, while our mission is to provide them with an education,” said Yvonne Lawrence, coordinator of Rio Salado’s Military Education program.

“The populations that we serve are active duty and veteran personnel and their dependents,” said Lawrence.

Currently, more than 2,700 GoArmyEd students and 1,900 students from the other Armed Forces are taking classes through Rio Salado.

“We have a variety of students located overseas, in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Lawrence. “Rio’s online format is conducive for them to continue their education while they are deployed. No matter where they are, if they have access to the Internet, they can go to college.”

According to Lawrence, the most popular courses that service members take online are computer technology, military leadership and medical prerequisites.

The federal government’s Department of Veterans Affairs offers various educational assistance programs for veterans, active duty personnel and reservists, which will include the Post-9/11 GI Bill® available in August 2009.

Benefits of the Post 9/11 GI Bill® will include a monthly housing allowance as well as money for tuition, books and other fees associated with attending a university, community colleges or trade school.

Army veteran and Rio Salado student Rajeeyah White already had an associate degree when she completed her military assignment in 2003.

“When I was discharged, I decided to go back to school to become a dietician or nutritionist,” said White. “I decided to take online classes because I have a little one at home. This allowed me to spend time with him and be a good mom and pursue my education at the same time.”

Rio’s Military Education program is managed by an experienced five-person advisement team that assists students with military transcript evaluation, course selection, degree plans, and graduation.

“Rio is dedicated to making sure military service members complete their degrees while they are serving our country,” said Lawrence.

For more information about the Rio’s Military Education program visit

About Rio Salado College
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

Friday, March 27, 2009

Lights Out: Rio Salado Supports Earth Hour

(Tempe, AZ) - Rio Salado is encouraging Valley residents to take part in Earth Hour-a global event in which millions of people will turn out their lights to make a statement of concern about our planet and climate change. On Saturday, March 28, 2009, Rio Salado will show its support by turning off the lighted marquee which faces the I-10 freeway from 8:30-9:30 p.m.

For Rio Salado College, caring about the environment represents a lifestyle change that blends into daily routines. The college has adopted several measures to “think green” and beyond. It is in this forward-thinking nature that we have become committed to the principles of sustainability.

We take a broad view of sustainability, including socio-cultural, environmental and economic dynamics to make sustainability bearable, equitable, and viable. To put it simply, we aren’t blindly “going green.” We’re carefully weighing the benefits and costs in the big picture and taking an approach that makes sense.

Sponsored by World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour got started just two years ago and is now the largest event of its kind in the world. Last year, more than 50 million people participated and the lights went out at the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and the Colisseum in Rome, just to name a few. Even Google's homepage went black for the day! In Israel, President Shimon Peres personally turned off lights in Tel Aviv.

This year, Earth Hour will be even bigger-already 250 cities in 74 countries have agreed to take part including Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami and Nashville with more signing up every day. Around the world, cities like Moscow, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Shanghai and Mexico City will turn out their lights.

Participating in Earth Hour is easy, fun and free. Rio Salado hopes you will join us for this amazing event. To sign up, visit where you'll learn more, including ways you can spread the word about Earth Hour, plus creative things to do when the lights go out in case you need inspiration!

Please pass this note along to anyone you think might want to take part. Let's all turn out and take action. To get a better sense of the event, check out this video at:

Earth Hour is a global movement led by the World Wildlife Fund to address climate change. It began in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, when 2.2 million homes and businesses turned their lights off for one hour. In 2008, Earth Hour went global. More than 50 million people turned out their lights, and the world’s most famous landmarks went dark, including the Empire State building, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Roman Colosseum. Earth House ’08 garnered widespread media coverage, inspiring people around the world to change their energy habits.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

HR Professionals Can Now Prepare for Certification Online

Rio Salado College now offers an online test preparation course for human resource professionals to study for the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification exam.

The three-credit course (Course #MGT289) covers several aspects of human resources including:

* Developing strategic goals
* Managing employee and labor relations
* Evaluating recruitment/employment marketing strategies
* Summarizing laws regarding workforce development
* Explaining compensation policies and programs
* Summarizing payroll responsibilities and procedures
* Evaluating benefit programs

"The online education offers an excellent opportunity where education resources are not available outside of Maricopa County for human resource professional to prepare for taking the PHR exam," said Betty Doran, Certification Director for the Arizona Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

"Also, because of its flexibility, all SHRM members can study for the exam at their convenience as well as earn credits towards a degree program as well," Doran said.

Students who enroll in the class can take advantage of the benefits of online learning at Rio Salado, including online student support, a 24/7 helpdesk and the flexibility of doing coursework at their convenience.

About Rio Salado College

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, March 24, 2009

Rio Salado Relaunches Website Using Microsoft Software

In keeping with the concept of innovation, one of its three core values, Rio Salado College has relaunched its website using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, a software product that runs Intranet and Internet sites, and allows people, teams and expertise to connect and collaborate.

“Rio Salado is showcasing its innovation and extending much deeper interaction with the community through this new site,” said Anthony Salcito, General Manager for Microsoft US Education. “The college is taking the best of Microsoft SharePoint technologies to engage and assist students, faculty, administrators, and the broader academic community in the life of the campus.”

Rio Salado is the first college in Arizona to use Microsoft Office SharePoint Server as the backbone of a public website.

Thanks to the SharePoint product, Rio Salado’s website,, has a fresh new look that makes it easier for students and prospective students to find information about the college and its online offerings.

“Using SharePoint has enabled us to create a streamlined, easy to navigate website that benefits the public as well as our students, faculty and staff,” said Edward Kelty, Vice President of Information Services at Rio Salado.

SharePoint has also benefited Rio’s eLearning system by enhancing its web portals, email systems, grade books and rosters, alerting capabilities and allows the use of multimedia, threaded discussions and more. Rio's employee portal also uses SharePoint, making communication across the college seamless and up to date.

About Rio Salado College
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

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rio Grad Helps Other Students Succeed

Fifteen years ago, Dawn Beck dropped out of high school due to living in a dysfunctional home environment. Two years ago, the married mother of two decided enough was enough. She enrolled in online classes at Rio Salado College, having already passed her GED exam.

Since then, Beck has earned an associate degree and bachelor’s degree in psychology, a process that would take most students four years or more. Beck did it in two, and now wants to help other students by sharing her secrets.

“I have been asked many times over how I was able to get a degree in such a short time, how to deal with financial aid, how I stayed organized, and how I did all of this with kids,” said Beck. “So I decided to write a book to answer these questions, and to inspire others to go back to school and better themselves.”

Beck’s self-published book, the Online Education Handbook, offers tips and insights on how to succeed in the world of online education, including how to find the right school and program, and how to accelerate classes.

“When I made the decision to go back to school, I chose Rio Salado because of the number of online classes offered, because it was affordable and because of the flexibility, said Beck.

Beck credits Rio’s flexibility with helping her accelerate classes to obtain her associate degree in one year’s time.

“I have had people say to me, ‘but I have kids’ or ‘but I work,’ and they think they don’t have the time to go to school,” said Beck. “But going to school online allows busy people to get an education when it is convenient for them.”

Beck found that online classes suited her home life perfectly. “It was the solution that worked for me because I was able to do my schoolwork late at night or early in the morning, when my kids were still sleeping,” Beck said.

When Beck began her studies at Rio Salado, she still didn’t know what career path she wanted to focus on, but says that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“The beauty of community college is that you don’t have to know what exactly you want to do yet,” said Beck. “By taking my general education classes from different disciplines, I was able to find what interested me, which is psychology.”

Today, Beck is pursuing an online master’s degree in psychology that should be completed in November, and plans to begin working on a doctorate in clinical psychology next year. Beck would like to ultimately own a psychology practice, but also sees herself teaching.

“Once I have my master’s degree, I would love to teach introductory psychology online,” said Beck, clearly keen on helping students succeed with their online education goals, now that she has gone through the experience first-hand.

“I hope that my book helps students and potential students get through some of the confusing barriers associated with going back to school,” Beck said. “I had to find my own way through and I want to make life easier for other students on a similar path.”

More information about Beck’s book can be found at

About Rio Salado College
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

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rio Debuts "U @ Rio Salado" Magazine

Rio Salado debuts its new publication, U @ Rio Salado magazine, the week of April 6th. The magazine features course listings, informative articles and valuable information about taking online classes through Rio Salado. U @ Rio Salado replaces our previous class schedule publications. It will be published three times per year, in April, July and December. Each issue highlights an academic season:

* April issue – Summer/Fall
* July issue – Fall/Winter
* December issue – Winter/Spring

In addition to local libraries, U @ Rio Salado is available at all Rio Salado sites, Fry’s Marketplace and grocery stores, and many other businesses throughout Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe.

Teaching Certificates Provide Career Options

For those who face layoffs, unemployment or are simply looking for a new professional direction in their lives, a career in teaching may just be the answer. A minimal time and financial investment can earn you a teaching certificate from Rio Salado College, and before you know it you’ll be in front of the classroom.

All you need to get there: a computer.

More and more, community colleges and universities are offering online classes to meet the needs of their diverse student populations. Taking classes online allows students to continue working so they aren’t losing income, and to take classes at their convenience.

“Taking online classes at Rio Salado was a very practical way to go,” said Steve Blattman, who left his computer job at a Valley telecommunications company, where he worked for 11 years, before mass layoffs began.

“The flexibility was wonderful,” Blattman said. “At the time, I was a stay-at-home dad and it made things so easy.”

Blattman parlayed his prior job skills and love of working with people into a new line of work.

“I spent a lot of time at that job instructing people informally with regard to computers, an experience I enjoyed, so I decided to pursue a career move to teaching,” Blattman said.

Nine months later Blattman received his teaching certificate in secondary education and landed a job teaching math at North High School in Phoenix.

Single mother Ann Elizondo recently decided to pursue a teaching certificate online so that she could still care for her three young children.

“Taking classes online allowed me to earn my teaching certification with minimal time away from my children,” said Elizondo, who now works as a special education teacher in New Mexico while also pursuing a Ph.D. degree in literacy.

Recently, marketing manager Mark Byrne-Quinn found himself reevaluating his career after he was laid off from a Scottsdale technology firm.

“The job was not fun anymore,” said Byrne-Quinn. “We used to make great products but recently it was all about making more money.”

Disenchanted, Byrne-Quinn decided to try his hand at teaching. The father of three was accepted into a Teacher-in-Residence program, where students who currently posses a bachelor's degree in a non-related education area are employed in a classroom while simultaneously completing their certification requirements.
“I am still working on certification,” said Byrne-Quinn, who teaches math at Red Mountain High School in Mesa. “I currently have an Intern Certificate that allows me to teach while I am completing my coursework.”

While high quality teachers are always needed, the job market looks especially bright for math and science instructors, areas in which the Arizona Department of Education cite a severe teacher shortage.

“I would recommend teaching as a career path for anyone wanting to change careers,” said Elizondo. “Doing so enabled me to provide a stable and secure life for my family.”

For working adults who wish to obtain a teaching certificate, Rio Salado College offers an online teacher education program in early childhood, elementary, secondary and/or special education. More information can be found at

Monday, March 9, 2009

Art Teacher’s “Baggage” Makes New York Debut

Unlike most people, Sue Norton-Scott’s baggage is a good thing. The Rio Salado College art instructor’s “Baggage” is an original art piece about immigration that was recently on display at the Pen and Brush gallery in New York City.

“The piece explores crossing immigration boundaries, with clear references to Mexico, water, and what we take with us when entering new territory,” said Norton-Scott.

“Baggage” was accepted into an exhibition called “In the News,” which was judged by CBS News/60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer.

“I feel particularly honored that he selected my work,” said Norton-Scott.

Norton-Scott’s art pieces begin as oil paintings, but are categorized as surrealistic mixed media because she expands and extends her canvas.

“Viewers can expect to find unusual objects sewn into, popping out of, and hiding behind the traditional borders of my art pieces,” Norton-Scott said. “More important than the media is the message, though. Rather than conveying a point of view, my pieces ask viewers to think differently about an issue and ask new questions about a contemporary topic.”

Norton-Scott teaches Introduction to Art, Survey of Music History and Contemporary Cinema at Rio Salado. She also teaches gifted students in the Mesa Public Schools.

“I am passionate about helping people learn and express their ideas because I had so many inspirational teachers in my own life,” said Norton-Scott. “I get a kick out of seeing someone having an ‘aha’ moment because one positive spark is quite contagious. Over the years, I’ve gotten to value being the “guide on the side” rather than the “sage on the stage.’”

These days, Norton-Scott finds that humanities courses are quite popular. “Especially in this economy, people need meaningful enrichment and they appreciate the arts more than ever,” she said. “Most of my students are taking online classes to enhance their skills for a new job or to earn a college degree.”

The self-proclaimed “guide on the side” enjoys bringing her first-hand knowledge into the classroom.

“I can express an artist’s point of view when students ask questions about the creative process, the current market, or contemporary art,” said Norton-Scott. Some artworks take more effort to create due to the time it takes for oil to dry or to meld diverse elements into a cohesive whole. Because of my personal experience with these issues, I can explain the artistic, physical and intellectual processes in detail.”

Norton-Scott has displayed her work in Chicago and Sacramento, as well as the Mesa Arts Center. Currently, three of her pieces are included in the online Caladan Gallery exhibit “Creating Synthesis: Exploring Art and Technology.” Norton-Scott’s artwork can be seen on her website at

About Rio Salado College
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

Monday, March 2, 2009

Rio instructor practices what she teaches

Just call Carol Allen Captain Ahab. Or William Randolph Hearst. The Rio Salado College English teacher has turned her love of water, the outdoors and writing into a unique and fulfilling literary venture.

Allen and her husband Jim publish Arizona Boating & Watersports, a monthly print and online publication promoting boating safety, fishing, other outdoor activities, and invasive species management efforts in Arizona.

“With our shared interest in the outdoors, plus our commitment to Arizona, Jim and I thought it would be a good idea to begin an Arizona publication,” said Allen, adding “there was nothing like it in our state.”

Allen’s background is in English composition, literature and journalism, making the newspaper business a natural fit. She got her heels wet back in the 90s, when she moved to San Diego with her husband to live on their boat in America's Cup Harbor.

One day she visited the office of a well-established California boating and fishing newspaper to place an ad, and learned of a writing vacancy. She was hired, and worked there for seven years.

“I enjoyed every minute of it, and learned more about boating and fishing than I ever thought I needed to know!” said Allen.

Allen teaches literature and English 101 and 102 at Rio Salado, and considers online learning a “godsend.”

“Online learning facilitates a true one-on-one relationship between teacher and student,” said Allen. “I used to find that, in a classroom setting, very few students actually had the time for meaningful dialog with me. Some were too shy to ask for time with their teacher. However, with e-mail, each student can ask questions that he or she might not venture in a classroom.”

“I also think that, with a few exceptions, students do just as well, if not better, through online learning, especially with the encouragement to explore the Internet,” Allen said. “Some students can even accelerate -- one's own pace is accommodated well through online learning.”

She said another advantage of online classes is that students have the ability to polish their thoughts. “As a writer myself, I often feel that writing something, rather than speaking it, provides a chance to get it right before presenting it to another person.”

Allen said she incorporates some concepts of publishing Arizona Boating & Watersports in teaching her English classes.

“My emphasis on conciseness and accuracy is relevant to both my classes and my publication,” Allen said. “Communication, be it oral or written, has common denominators. Clarity of expression, intended audience, accuracy, and the importance of the right words to convey thoughts -- all of these are involved in communication.”

Recognizing the Allens’ dedication to environmental communication, the Arizona Game & Fish Commission honored Arizona Boating & Watersports last month with its 2008 Media of the Year Award for its support of the conservation of Arizona's wildlife and natural resources.

Allen and her husband also publish “Dinghy Digest,” a weekly e-newsletter about current news on boating, camping, fishing, hunting, RVing and watersports. To read their publications, visit or pick up a copy at outdoor businesses throughout the state.

About Rio Salado College
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