Monday, September 21, 2009

Rio Employees Collect Tools For Teachers

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado PR Manager, 480.517.8472

Throughout the school year, teachers often spend hundreds of dollars of their own money on classroom supplies for themselves and their students. For first-year teachers, who don't have years of materials saved, that figure can easily eclipse $1,000.

To help ease the financial burden of outfitting classrooms for first-year teachers in Rio Salado College’s Post-Baccalaureate Teacher-in-Residence program, the employees at the Tempe-based college held the Tools for Teachers school supply drive.

During the drive, employees spent several weeks collecting school supplies and volunteering during their lunch time to fill 100 reusable bags made of recycled materials for the teachers.

“This has been an especially tough year for teachers,” said Dannan Glasper, administrative assistant at Rio Salado College. “Many of the teachers in Rio’s Teacher-in-Residence program are starting their careers at Title I schools and are working with very limited budgets for supplies.”

According to the Arizona Department of Education, Title I, which is part of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), provides financial assistance to local educational agencies to meet the needs of disadvantaged school children. Title I was developed to help students reach the state's academic standards.

“Rio Salado employees and the teachers live and work throughout the Valley,” said Glasper while adding a box of crayons to a bag. “Essentially, the employees are helping teachers and students in their own backyard.”

The Tools for Teachers supply drive is just part of the college's volunteer efforts. Recently, school officials started working on a college-wide campaign called Pay 30 Forward. The campaign, which started in July, encourages employees to get involved in their communities by volunteering, participating in charity events, and helping other causes.

"Rio Salado recently celebrated its 30th anniversary," said Glasper. "So we asked employees to give back by volunteering at least 30 hours in the community, which has been very supportive of Rio over the years."

While the 30-hour mark is linked to the 30th anniversary, it also was established after officials discovered that a large contingent of employees were already heavily involved in volunteering.

“While talking to employees we found out that some really dedicated people are volunteering more than 30 hours a month,” said Glasper. “So we came up with the 30-hour mark to make it challenging for the employees. The campaign started in July and we are asking them to volunteer 30 hours by next July. That gives them a year, which is challenging, but very reasonable.”

Since Pay 30 Forward is not mandatory, a committee made up of Rio Salado employees is planning several volunteer events to help people get involved.
To learn more about Rio Salado College’s outreach effort and how you can get involved, visit

Monday, September 14, 2009

H1N1 (Swine Flu)

Public health officials are preparing for the resurgence of H1N1 (Swine Flu) this fall. At a July public stakeholders meeting, Maricopa County Public Heath Director, Dr. Bob England, warned "the thing that people need to know is that it will come back." England explained that although there are many variables at play, which makes specific predictions impossible, a recurrence of H1N1 is likely to hit the community hard. "In the past one in four people have become sick in that second wave," England said.

While there is no vaccine yet available for the prevention of H1N1, health officials are urging citizens to take precautions:

  • Stay home if you are ill and seek medical advice when needed
  • Wash hands thoroughly and frequently
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Get a seasonal flu vaccine
The Maricopa Community Colleges are preparing for the fall. It will be important for faculty to share concerns and prevention measures with students and urge them to report illnesses in an effort to prevent the spread of H1N1.

Arizona Department of Health Services -
Maricopa County Health Department –
The Centers for Disease Control -
U.S. Government Flu Information – http://

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rio Salado Building Green Learning Campus

Green Schoolhouse Series to be launched in Phoenix

A unique partnership between Tempe-based Rio Salado, the City of Phoenix, the nonprofit organization Brighten a Life, and Cause and Effect Evolutions will bring the first green charter high school to Phoenix.

Last week, Rio Salado College President Linda Thor, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, and Marshall Zotara , managing partner of Cause and Effect Evolutions, unveiled plans for the Green Learning Campus and Higher Education Center, which will be built at Rio Salado’s Seventh Avenue site, 619 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix.

“This site will become the newest point of pride for education within the City of Phoenix,” said Thor. “In the near future, this site will undergo a significant transformation to become a multifaceted campus with a sustainability focus for both high school and adult learners.”

Brighten a Life and Cause and Effect Evolutions are building two new sustainable green schoolhouse buildings with 7,000 square-feet of classroom space. These facilities will house one of the nation’s first green charter high schools, which is slated to open in the fall of 2010. Sustainability will be infused in the curriculum and will focus on improving and using energy more efficiently.

“Students will have the option to receive both high school and college credit simultaneously through dual enrollment,” said Thor. “This will give them — and their parents — a very affordable head start on their bachelor’s degrees.”

The buildings are the first structures in the nation to be built through the nonprofit organization Brighten a Life, the originator of the Green Schoolhouse Series. Cause and Effect Evolutions is working with local companies to obtain sponsorships to cover the cost of constructing the buildings.

Along with the two school houses, a third new building is slated to be built with funds from General Obligation Bonds, which were approved by voters in 2004.

“In the third building, Rio Salado will continue to offer a full array of free, in-person Adult Basic Education non-credit classes,” said Thor. “The same building also will provide regional support services for Rio Salado College online students, such as testing, academic advising and tutoring services.”

Rio Salado’s two existing buildings on the 7th Avenue site will be retrofitted to make them sustainable and environmentally responsible, while the two existing portables will be torn down.

“This campus also will offer green jobs training programs,” said Thor. “Earlier this year, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to join Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon in meeting with senior officials from the Departments of Education, Labor and Energy. As a result, Rio Salado has joined forces with the City of Phoenix, and together we are seeking federal stimulus funds for portions of this dynamic new model in education. If we are successful in obtaining those funds, they will be utilized to retrofit the two existing buildings for the green jobs training classes.”

Rio Salado College has made a commitment to do its part to develop sustainable living, working and learning environments. And through its unique partnerships with Brighten a Life, Cause and Effect Evolutions, and the City of Phoenix the college that is a leader in online learning is taking another step toward being a leader in sustainability.

To learn more about Rio Salado’s sustainability efforts, visit

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Learn to Teach Online

Rio Salado College launches eLearning Design course
By David Staudacher, Rio Salado College PR Manager, 480.517.8472

Online learning is on the rise in schools throughout the Valley and across the country. According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Education, “Online learning — for students and for teachers — is one of the fastest growing trends in educational uses of technology.”

It is estimated that more than a million K–12 students took online courses in the 2007-2008 school year.

The demand for instructors to teach online is on the rise, too.

To keep up with the demand of students seeking online classrooms, Rio Salado College recently started rolling out its new K-12 eLearning Design classes for teachers.

“We’ve had a lot of people inquiring about the classes before they were available,” said Jennifer Freed, faculty chairperson of eLearning Design at Rio Salado College. “Students started enrolling in classes the day they were available. As more schools add online classes we expect our enrollment to increase dramatically.”

Using 21st century skills, K-12 eLearning Design classes teach everything from designing curricula and multimedia presentations to instructing participants with wikis, blogs, video-sharing and social networking.

“The students will learn the ins and outs of teaching an online class,” said Freed. “The classes cover such topics as eLearning design and delivery, classroom management, discipline, and behavior in online learning, parent communication and involvement in eLearning, legal issues with K-12 eLearning, engaging K-12 eLearners, and writing online assessments.”

“Additionally, they will experience an online environment so they understand both the instructor as well as the student perspective of online learning,” she said.

There are many advantages to learning online and those same perks, and more, apply to teaching online. Teachers can work from home and prepare a class at any time or from any place.

“Students often open up to instructors more online,” said Freed. “I find that I get to know my online students better than I do my in-person students. When students don’t see you they aren’t as intimidated. Even the shy students will participate more in an environment where they feel more comfortable.”

The program features general elective courses for those who want a general introduction to the eLearning Design field, and it allows teachers to earn an endorsement, too.

“If a teacher takes 30 credits of eLearning Design courses they can add a computer science endorsement to their Arizona teaching certificate,” said Freed. “New courses will be rolling out with each of our major start dates for the next year, and more course opportunities will become available throughout the year.”

To learn more about Rio Salado o K-12 eLearning Design, visit