Monday, May 17, 2010

Retirees Find Encore Careers Through Rio Salado

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado PR Manager

When some people retire they become homebodies and work around the house. Others are not quite ready to completely leave the workforce and seek encore careers. East Valley resident Gary Light is a retiree who fits into the latter category. After finishing a successful career in foreign intelligence with the federal government, he sought out a second career.

“I don’t care for honey-do lists,” said Light. “My kids are all grown up and I missed working with kids, so I started working as a substitute teacher, which my son was doing too, and really enjoyed it.”

Light enjoyed the work so much; he decided to start taking classes at Tempe-based Rio Salado College to earn his teaching certificate with a focus on special education.

“The director of special education at the school where I’m working recommended Rio Salado College,” said Light. “The online classes are challenging, but I get a lot of support from the college’s staff.”

The program he entered is Rio Salado’s 50+ Encore Programs, which was created to support adults over the age of 50 who are eager to prepare for new careers in education. Based on adults’ areas of interest, experience, educational backgrounds, and employment situations, candidates are able to enroll in one of four online teacher certification programs. Rio Salado customized its online teacher certification programs for eligible adults, who are interested in re-careering and pursuing teaching positions in early childhood, elementary, secondary and special education.

“We know there are people who want to re-career,” said Kimberly Tobey, Rio Salado College’s community liaison director. “Our 50-Plus Encore career programs allow us to work directly with the 50-plus re-careering student. For many of them, it may have been a long time since they’ve been in school so we have a career coach available to them to ensure they find success in school and in the online learning environment.”

Light, who is 63-years-old, agrees with Tobey and said he received a lot of support at Rio Salado, which helped him make the dean’s list this past semester. He also said the program can help more than people who are retired and seeking a position with job security.

“This is a very good program for older people with degrees who get displaced from corporate America,” he said. “It’s especially good for people who want to teach special education, math and science.”

While Light enjoys helping students with special needs, he said the students are not the people receiving help. He said the students are helping him, too.

“I feel like working a long time and working with these kids keeps me sharp,” said Light.

To learn more about Rio Salado College’s 50+ Encore Programs, contact Rio Salado’s Enrollment Services at 480.517.8580 or visit

Rio Salado College 50+ Encore program orientation dates, programs and times. The orientations offer an overview of the courses and pathways available. Financial aid options also will be discussed.

June 2: noon and 6 p.m. at Rio Tempe Campus
June 7: 6 p.m. at Communiversity @ Surprise
June 15: 6 p.m. at Rio Avondale site
July 7: noon and 6 p.m. at Rio Tempe Campus
July 14: 2010: 6 p.m. at Communiversity @ Surprise