Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Look Back at 2011

As we look forward to continued growth and innovation in 2012, we'd like to take a moment to reflect on what was accomplished this past year and thank our amazing students and staff for making 2011 a year of milestones.

Click the chat bubble on each photo to learn more.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sun Sounds of Arizona Awarded Boeing Community Grant

The Employees Community Fund of Boeing Mesa Awards $3000 Grant to Sun Sounds of Arizona

TEMPE, Ariz. – December 2011 – Sun Sounds of Arizona is pleased to announce the award of a $3,000 grant from The Employees Community Fund of Boeing Mesa, which will help the radio reading service deliver the East Valley Tribune and other local newspapers, in audio format, to residents of Mesa.

More than 3,000 Mesa residents currently hear audio information on Sun Sounds of Arizona, the state’s only reading service. With this grant funding, Sun Sounds will work to expand its reach to print-disabled people in the East Valley.

Anyone who finds it difficult to see, hold or understand printed material due to a disability is eligible for service at no charge. Members of Sun Sounds use the service to hear daily local and national newspapers, magazines, books, grocery ads and other local information read aloud.  

"I’m so grateful to Sun Sounds," said Bob Burrows, a resident of Mesa who is blind. "And so is my wife, who no longer has to read the sports page of the newspaper to me! I’d be lost without this service, and I recommend it to everyone who has trouble reading the newspaper."

By providing access to current print information, Sun Sounds of Arizona facilitates independent living, personal choices, and life-long learning for people with vision loss and other disabilities.

About Sun Sounds of Arizona

Sun Sounds of Arizona, established in 1979, is a radio reading and information access service for people who cannot read print due to a disability.  A public service of Rio Salado College, Sun Sounds and 500 volunteers across the state provide information access free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week using radio, cable systems, telephone and the internet. For more information, visit or call 480-774-8300.

For additional information contact:

Heidi Capriotti
Marketing Coordinator
Sun Sounds of Arizona

Saturday, December 24, 2011

International Students Embrace American Holiday Traditions

Galiya Hafizova-Riley and Szu-Sheng Kao
pose at Rio Salado College Northern
Students at Rio Salado College are demonstrating that no matter where you are from, the holidays are a special time of year.

"I love American holidays and I love celebrating them with Americans," said Galiya Hafizova-Riley, a student studying English as a second language at Rio Salado College

Hafizova-Riley, who came to the U.S. from post-Soviet Kyrgyz Republic, said she was amazed by American holiday traditions when she first arrived.

"One of my favorite holiday experiences in the U.S. was my first time seeing holiday lights and decorations on all the houses in my neighborhood. This was a new experience for me and I enjoyed seeing it all season," she said.

Hafizova-Riley said that her all-time favorite holiday tradition in the U.S. has been New Year’s Eve. "I love that it is a chance for me to get together with friends and relatives to sing, dance and converse all night long. Although New Year’s is similar in my country, Americans definitely stay out later," she said.

Hafizova-Riley is not the only student at Rio who has had the experience of living in a new country for the holidays.

Szu-Sheng Kao, also a Rio student who studies English, came to Arizona two years ago from Taipei, Taiwan with his wife and two sons. Kao said that the last two holidays have been a unique experience.

"It is very surprising for someone to come from China and experience so many new traditions," said Kao.

According to Kao, although Taiwan and the U.S. share many of the same holiday traditions, he and his family also celebrate the Chinese New Year and the Ghost Festival, a Chinese holiday celebrated around the changing moon that honors the dead.

Kao said that he enjoys the holidays in the U.S.

"I have yet to find an American tradition that I don’t enjoy," he said. "I especially love the holiday food. Everything from turkey at Thanksgiving to Christmas ham it is all such a new experience for me and my family," said Kao.

Dafinka Karcheva-Orris, who teaches for Rio’s English Language Acquisition for Adults Program (ELAA), said she finds the food traditions of other cultures to be fun and interesting.

"Food is important in all cultures and I have enjoyed bringing Bulgarian holiday foods to America’s celebrations," said Karcheva-Orris. "Some of the Bulgarian dishes that I have prepared for Americans include: banica, which is a pastry with feta cheese and eggs, and oshav, which is dry fruit boiled in syrup. I have also prepared traditional cabbage and pork for my American friends," she said.

According to Karcheva-Orris, it is not uncommon for immigrants who come to the U.S. to leave behind traditions from their native country. "Back in Bulgaria, we used to sit around the table after dinner and sing during the holidays. Sadly, we no longer participate in this beautiful tradition," said Karcheva-Orris.

Despite the fact that her family no longer sings traditional Bulgarian songs, Karcheva-Orris said that she loves American holiday music.

"One of my favorite American traditions is holiday music. I enjoy hearing the caroling singers and listening to Christmas music on the car radio," said Karcheva-Orris.

Karcheva-Orris said that for her learning new traditions, especially American traditions, has helped her to realize how much diversity there is all over the world.

"I enjoy America’s many diverse traditions because in many ways America’s traditions represent the world population’s traditions. In my teaching profession I have many learners from around the globe who celebrate holidays in their own way. I feel especially blessed in my work with multiple cultures because I can enjoy and learn from others’ celebrations," she said.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

KJZZ Ranks #1 for Morning Drive Time

KJZZ 91.5 FM was recently ranked as the number one news station for the morning drive time by Arbitron a media and marketing research firm. More listeners tuned into KJZZ from September 15 to November 23, 6–10 a.m. than to any other radio station in the Phoenix Metro Area. Morning Edition, a presentation of KJZZ and NPR followed by the Diane Rehm show are featured during this time block.

For January to November 2011, Arbitron reports that KJZZ broadcasts to nearly 144,000 listeners every day and to nearly 300,000 listeners each week. In addition KJZZ streams live to computers and mobile devices an average of 145,000 hours per month.

KJZZ is a listener-supported public broadcasting station licensed to the Maricopa Community College District. It is a community service of Rio Salado College’s Division of Public Service, featuring a mix of local, national and international news, jazz and blues.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Shazam! Marvel at Rio Salado's Hulk of a New Literature Course

Last March in a RioNews post, English Department Faculty Chair Kathleen Dunley, expressed her wish to integrate comics and graphic novels into a new literature course at Rio Salado College.  As of this December, that course is fully developed and available for registration.

According to Dunley, an avid comic arts scholar, ENH280: Topics in American Literature is an exciting course to be involved in.  

“The course content provides students with a compelling introduction to visual storytelling as well as an unconventional study of very traditional literary concepts,” Dunley said. “We’re also breaking into some exciting new delivery methods with this class, so it has really been a very fun project for me.”

By adding a social layer to the online course, Dunley said she hopes to cultivate a persistent, active community.

“I decided to integrate the Ning platform for two reasons,” Dunley said.  “First, I wanted students to be able to embed multimedia tools and be creative in how they participate in class discussions. Second, by using Ning, we can keep the course open.  We’re hoping that students will stick around and continue to participate in discussions even after they’ve finished the class.  It also allows me to invite guest speakers into the virtual classroom where they can lecture, take questions, and join the class discussion.”

Cartoonist Jessica Abel is one of the first guests on the roster and will take questions through a broadcasted video conference.

“She’ll technically be in the room with students and they will be able to ask questions. Students who aren’t in the classroom will still be able to access the webcast from any location, “Dunley said. “It’s freeing in a sense.  There are no walls or geographic limitations.”

Dunley’s connection to the comic arts community allows her to include custom content from comicon presentations and other public appearances.

“One of the assignments is to read a few pieces by Seth (born Gregory Gallant). I interviewed him at the Comic Arts Conference earlier this year,” Dunley said. “One of my friends taped the interview so I’m including that video in the class.”

Dunley’s social network has also helped her gain access to quite a bit of open source and creative commons material for the class.

“I’m a contributing editor at The Comics Grid, a non-profit project for comics scholars and serious enthusiasts of comic art, “Dunley said. “I blogged about this class and have gotten a very positive response.”

According to Comics and Digital Humanities Researcher Ernesto Priego, founding member of the Comics Grid, ENH 280 serves as a model for how education should be.

“Dr. Dunley is increasing the possibility for public engagement by developing an online community of learners who are not restricted by geography,” Priego said.  “Integrating accessible web tools for remote collaboration offers much-needed communication channels for both course development and research.”

Priego went on to explain why an online social format is well suited to the niche study of comic arts.

“The genealogy of comic studies is the result of the meeting of two worlds often thought apart, academia and fandom.  Fandom has always been quick and efficient at harnessing web tools, but academia has been slower to adopt new technology,” Priego said.

He added, “Comics are deeply grounded in collective experience, exchange, sharing and communal spaces.  Taking a comics studies course to the web is innovative, yet logical. It means taking the discussion of comics to one of its most natural current habitats.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

837 Hamburgers

Arizona students who take their first two years of college at a Maricopa Community College like Rio Salado will save an average of $4,687. It might not buy love or happiness, but it'll buy a lot of hamburgers!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Teacher at Xavier College Prep Recieves Excellence in Education Award

Congratulations to Laurie White of Xavier College Prep in Phoenix, for receiving December’s Excellence in Education Award. Former student, Michelle Cantelme, nominated Mrs. White because of her dedication to each individual student.

 “Mrs. White is a teacher who truly makes a difference with her students. She wants all of her students to be successful. You can always count on her to be there from the beginning to the end,” said Cantelme.

Excellence in Education is a partnership between Rio Salado College and KEZ 99.9 FM, which recognizes Valley teachers. Students and parents of students are encouraged to nominate K-12 teachers who are excellent at their profession and have gone above-and-beyond the call of duty to make a difference in their community.

Each month, a Valley K-12 teacher will be selected from all the entries to be recognized for their outstanding contribution to education. KEZ’s Marty Manning will visit the teacher’s school to surprise them with their “Excellence in Education” Award. The surprise visit will be broadcast during the Beth and Friends Show. All winning teachers are rewarded with $99, an Excellence in Education Award, and a Rio Salado College gift bag.

To nominate a special teacher, please visit KEZ 99.9 keyword excellence.

Rio Salado Offers Programs for Returning Veterans

The military drawdown in Afghanistan will bring nearly 45,000 troops back to the United States by the end of this year. To do its part for transitioning military members, Rio Salado College provides educational programs and support geared specifically to the success of our nation’s returning heroes.

East Valley Veterans Education Center
Opened in early 2011, the East Valley Veterans Education Center (EVVEC) in Tempe provides educational outreach and college advisement services to veterans and their family members at no cost.

Earlier this year, the EVVEC hosted its inaugural “Veterans’ Boot Camp” in partnership with Chandler University.

“The goal of boot camp is to help veterans secure great careers,” said Rico Lolle, Coordinator of Veterans Services at Rio Salado.

The weeklong program consisted of 40-hours of intense training that included computer skills, fitness activities, social networking, financial management and corporate etiquette.

Most classes are taught by successful veterans who have transitioned from the military to the private or public sector and they teach the most innovative job searching techniques and networking skills needed for success in the modern workplace.

“The boot camp program empowers veterans to break through barriers and deal with the challenges they often face when transitioning from the military to a civilian career,” said
Jamie L. McDaniel, Student Services Specialist at the EVVEC.

Military Partnerships
As a ServicemembersOpportunity College, Rio Salado has partnerships with many branches of the military including eArmyU, the Army National Guard Institute and the Coast Guard Institute.

“We are here to support military students, families and veterans by offering a wide range of courses and services, and by acting as a large welcome mat for the men and women in our Armed Forces,” Carr said.
Military students take advantage of Rio’s online classes, as well as a dedicated Military Education Program staff with extensive military experience, and a broad range of services including registration, tutoring, academic advising, library and counseling.

“There are more veteran students now than we have ever seen,” said Gary Marabella, a veteran affairs representative at Rio Salado College. “Rio Salado’s online classes give military students, both active soldiers and veterans, a flexible option for their education.”

Troops to Teachers
One program is Troops to Teachers, where military members can get training to begin a second career in education as a K-12 public teacher in the public school system.

“Rio Salado College recognizes the enormous potential and knowledge that veterans have to offer the workforce,” said Chantele Carr, Coordinator of Military Advisement at Rio Salado. “Through the Troops to Teachers program, military students can prepare for a teaching career after service.”

By earning degrees, veterans can improve their educational level while also benefitting the community by improving the quality of new teachers and the instruction itself.

Rio Salado College provides teacher education programs including bachelor’s degrees and post-baccalaureate credentialing pathways.

Troops to Teachers is a federal program funded by the United States Department of Education through the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rio Salado is Fastest Growing 2-Year College

In a Community College Week article, Rio Salado College is ranked first in a survey of the Fastest Growing Public Two-Year Colleges (of schools having enrollments of 10,000 or more). The article focuses on how enrollments are beginning to slow nationally after years of record-breaking highs. As a state, Arizona is ranked ninth in the 10-Year Trends in Total Enrollment survey, with 232,253 community college students in 2010, up from 184,799 students in 2001. Read more.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rio Receives Grants to Boost Workforce Development

Rio Salado College recently received five educational grants totaling more than $3 million that will help the college create workforce development programs, increase the use of technology in the classroom and improve civics education in Arizona.

"As a recognized leader in workforce development, Rio Salado provides access to training and career-path programs to meet the needs of employers and employees,” said Dr. Jo Jorgenson, Dean of Instruction and Community Development at Rio Salado. “These grants will help students with the skills and knowledge they must have to succeed in today’s competitive environment.”

The five grants, listed below, will be implemented beginning in January 2012.

·       Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant supports Rio Salado as a partner in a national information technology consortium of seven community colleges to develop and support a curriculum/student model for accelerated career path training.

Arizona Adult Education Pilot Grants

·       Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training grant will provide the opportunity for three student cohorts to simultaneously complete GED diplomas and earn a 24-college-credit Certificate in Dental Assisting Technology. 

·       College and Career Pathways grant will help incorporate college and career information into all levels of adult education services in Arizona. As part of this grant, Rio Salado will implement STAR-PATH (Successful Talented Adults at Rio – Practice, Analytics, Technology, Help), a bridge program for post-secondary education where students receive training in employer identified skills.

·       Transforming Education through Technology grant will enable Rio Salado to pilot a program that reduces the amount of site-based classroom time for Adult Basic Education (ABE) students by providing Netbooks to access the internet-based PLATO online learning program.

·       2012 Adult Education Civic Standards grant will fund Rio Salado to pilot newly developed standards for civics education in ABE English language classes.

“Our goal is to use these grants to improve the quality of education that students receive not only at Rio Salado College, but in Arizona as a whole,” said Jorgenson.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reading @ Rio Book Club Plans January Meeting

The Reading @ Rio Book Club is planning its post-holiday meeting and is requesting feedback through an online survey to decide between the following titles:
The January meeting will bring together bookworms from throughout the Rio Salado College community including students, employees and the public to enjoy discussion of the chosen title as well as refreshments and cupcakes.  (Not just standard grocery store cupcakes; these are serious business cupcakes from a local cupcake bakery.)

Fans of books (and cupcakes) are invited to complete the survey to decide which title will be discussed or contact library services.

Follow up info: The book club has chosen Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. The meeting will be held January 19 from 12-1 p.m. at the Conference Center (second floor east room).