Saturday, December 29, 2012

American Sign Language Now Available Online at RSC

ASU Student Ashley Tucker completes her language
requirement with RSC's online American Sign Language course. 
Sign language has grown increasingly popular amongst those interested in learning another language. In fact, American Sign Language is now the second most popular language for online learners at Rio Salado College.

In her 18 years in the language department at RSC, Faculty Chair Angela Felix has watched the teaching of languages transition from traditional in-person classes to an online format. “The online Sign Language class started in 2009,” said Felix. “It was slow going in the beginning, like it was when we started Spanish 15 or 16 years ago.”

The department had experience with online delivery of audible languages like German, French and Spanish, but the sign language class needed unique solutions.

“We had done a lot of work with voice recognition technology for our other language courses online,” said Felix. “When we embarked on this journey with sign language, we honestly did not know what to do.”

The greatest challenge that the school faced was learning how to get the same voice recognition component that existed in other courses to work for the non-spoken language.

“We thought that it was a better idea to use something that was common rather than do something different that would be unfamiliar so we incorporated YouTube,” said Felix.

Most students already know how to use YouTube, so they can focus on learning the language instead of learning new technology.

“We leap frogged over that obstacle,” said Felix. “It has really facilitated the learning experience and students can focus on the content rather than the technology.”

The course follows the same district-approved competencies, so students can be confident they are getting the same quality as they would in an in-person course.

“We’re following the same learning outcomes that are required at the state universities, we’re just finding a more personalized way to do so,” said Felix.

It is because of these requirements that students like Ashley Tucker of Arizona State University is able to take the course without worrying about whether or not it will transfer.

“I found out that Rio had it online and that I could get it done faster through Rio Salado,” said Tucker. “I actually am graduating a semester earlier because I was able to take my classes through them.”

Ashley has completed two semesters of Sign Language and says taking it online and using YouTube is very intuitive.

“I think it’s so easy,” said Tucker. “I’m not super techy and even I can handle it. I’m like a pro now.”

Even without the in-person aspect of the class, Tucker feels her instructors have made it easy to interact.

“Even though I haven’t had the face time, my teacher puts in the effort. She knows who I am, she knows this is important, she knows I’m graduating and that’s been wonderful.”

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Paying For College: Spring Loan Disbursements

Federal law requires student loans that are issued to students who begin their academic year during the spring term to be released in two equal installments.

This rule is complicated and can be confusing for new students, so we’d like to provide a brief overview of how it works.

  • This rule only applies to students who begin their academic year during the spring term. If you started your academic year in the fall term, this does not apply to you.
  • This rule only applies to student loans. It does not apply to grants or scholarships.
  • Students must be actively participating in 6 or more credit hours to receive student loan money. This means your classes must be in-progress and that you are working on coursework for 6 credit hours’ worth of classes. Note:  If you stagger your start dates at the beginning of the term, you will not be eligible to receive loan money until you have ramped up to at least 6 active credit hours.
  • If you start the term with 6 or more credits, in most cases you will receive your first loan installment during the third week of class. If you are a first time borrower, you will not receive your loan money until after a 30-day delay required by the federal government.
  • In almost all cases, your second installment will be released at the midpoint of your semester block.
We encourage students to use the financial aid disbursement calculator to estimate the date when they will receive their financial aid money.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cookie's Tips to Stay Well Through The Holidays

Written by Rio Salado College Intern, Matt Loper

With the holidays around the corner, some might be worried about how to keep a strong mind and body with the extra stress and food that this season can be known for.

Cookie Potter, coordinator of wellness education for Rio Salado College, shares some holiday wellness tips. She says that if you are going out of town, having visitors, or looking for some time off work, that eating and exercise routines can be easily interrupted, but there are ways to make sure you don’t let things get out of hand.

While traveling, make sure to stretch to help your body better handle the stress and long hours of sitting. When scoping out hotels, looks for options that have fitness centers or you can look for gyms around the area you can go to.

“I look for local yoga studios, and I take a class,” Potter said.

Travelers should also prepare for contact with large groups of fellow travelers that can take a toll on the immune system.

“You want to make sure before you even go on your trip, you’re boosting your immune system,” Potter said.

If you are staying home or expecting visitors, you can still make plans before the holidays come to make sure you keep your fitness where you want. Planning ahead of time will make it easier to accomplish your goals.

If your holiday season includes family gatherings and parties, over eating can be a big concern.

Potter suggests having a healthy snack right before heading to a party so that you aren’t too hungry. She also said that sometimes you might feel hungry, but your body could be asking for something else.

“Sometimes you think you are hungry but you are really dehydrated,” she said.

Planning ahead how much you are going to eat and setting limits for yourself can make it easier to say no to second or third helpings. Writing goals down for eating and exercise is a good way to hold yourself accountable and help you avoid seasonal setbacks along with added stress and anxiety.

Regular stretching and relaxing can help calm the worried mind and bring some peaceful moments into a hectic time. If you are feeling stressed, it is important to give your body a boost with some strengthening nutrients.

“Because the holidays can be stressful, I think about vitamin supplements,” Potter said.

For those who may feel sad or lonely, one of the best ways to kick the holiday blues is to help someone else in need.

“Get out and volunteer,” Potter suggested.

For those who may find themselves without plans for the holiday, service is an option as well, and you can even bring the relatives.

So whether you are facing traveling, family, massive amounts of calories, or looking for a chance to give to others, make sure that while you are taking care of everything that needs to get done, take care of your well-being.

This article can also be found in the December 22 edition of The Tempe Republic.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Current Magazine Winter Edition Available Now

Open publication

The winter edition of Rio Salado College's quarterly publication, Current, is available in print or online.  The magazine was themed around holiday and mail-order catalogs and features a variety of fun articles of interest to the RSC community.

Featured In this issue:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Kyrsten Sinema Meets With Local Mayors at EVVEC

Don't worry. They did not demand the sum of...One Million Dollars. 
Community Leaders Discuss Veteran Issues at EVVEC

Arizona Congresswoman-elect Kyrsten Sinema, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell met to discuss veterans’ issues at the East Valley Veterans Education Center earlier today.

“It's incredible to have this veteran center in the East Valley,” Sinema said. “We have a lot of veterans in this area and it's a great testament to our commitment to serve their needs.”

Leaving politics at the door, the four community leaders sat down to take a serious look at the problems facing military veterans and their families.

“One of the reasons I'm excited about being at this facility is that it is nonpartisan,” Sinema said. “We can all come together to serve those who serve our country.”

EVVEC, hosted by Rio Salado College, is a collaborative effort of five of the ten Maricopa County Community College District colleges. Its purpose is to provide one-stop support to veterans and their families.

For more more fun photos or to learn about EVVEC, visit

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Required Documents

Paying For College: Required Documents
Before starting a degree, certificate or official college transfer program, Rio Salado College requires students to:

  • Authenticate Identity – To protect students from identity theft, all students are required to provide proof of identity. In most cases this will be a COLOR copy of your current and valid driver’s license. For a full list of acceptable ID and delivery methods, visit the Financial Aid Website. It is important to follow all instructions carefully to avoid delays. Note: Proof of identity MUST be in COLOR. 
  • Verify Residency –All students must be classified as either a resident or non-resident for tuition purposes. Students who cannot provide acceptable documentation of legal residency in the United States will be considered an out-of-state student. They will not qualify for in-state tuition or state-based financial aid. 
  • Verify Prior Education – Certificate and degree seeking students are required to have their prior education verified by the Office of Admissions and Records. When providing transcripts or other documentation of prior education, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully and avoid mistakes that could cause the documents to be rejected. 

Financial aid will not be processed until after authentication of identity and prior education has been verified.

Note: Validation of prior education does NOT include a transcript evaluation. We strongly encourage students to Take the Next Step and submit a FREE transcript evaluation form as they are completing the prior education validation process.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Corporate Partnerships Offer Unique Opportunities

As we navigate our holiday shopping, it's easy to overlook the workers who keep the shelves full of our favorite holiday ingredients and point us in the right direction when we've completely lost our way in the baking aisle.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the grocery industry is one of the largest in the country and its 2.5 million employees are exceptionally diverse in both their purpose and their perspective. Some grocery store workers are there temporarily to earn extra money through the holidays while others hope to work their way up the ranks and make a career of it.

Coca-Cola employee and Rio Salado College student Larry Christensen is a dedicated worker and committed student who has struggled over the years to balance his work with his education.

"I started taking classes through the Maricopa Community Colleges system in the late 70's," Christensen said. "But like a lot of people, life got in the way."

According to Christensen it was difficult to commit to a college schedule when his work schedule was so eratic.

"I would start classes while working days and then get transferred to nights or vice versa," Christensen said. "I moved to different parts of the valley and started a family. Luckily for me, the Maricopa District offers a lot of options."

The option Christensen chose was the Retail Management Certificate offered through collaboration with the Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC) and Arizona Food Marketing Alliance (AFMA). The program is offered online through Rio Salado College and in-person at several participating colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD).

"Coca-Cola would host the classes at their Tempe location and Rio Salado would provide the administration, teachers and any other needed services," Christensen said. "The classes were held once a week for 8 to 10 weeks."

Christensen was appreciative of the flexibility of the certificate program and the understanding of the knowledgeable instructors.

"Rio acknowledged that holidays are an important part of Coca-Cola's business and started classes at different times, or gave us the opportunity to skip weeks as needed for our business," Christensen said. "The teachers also understood that a work day isn't always 8 to 5, no matter what the job description says."

Christensen also praised the program’s instructors whose real world knowledge and experience added value to the course material.

"The teachers have an understanding of their subjects because they worked in those fields," Christensen said. "The human resources teacher had been in the human resources departments of several companies and was able to help the students understand how the department works. The retail merchandising teacher worked for Safeway and helped us to understand philosophies that went way beyond the books."

Visit to learn more about partnership opportunities at Rio Salado College

This story can also be found in the December 15 edition of The Tempe Republic. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Rio Salado College Named 2012 Performance Excellence Award Winner

PHOENIX, AZ (December 12, 2012). The Arizona Quality Alliance recently named Rio Salado College a 2012 Showcase in Excellence Award winner for the college’s Course Lifecycle Process.

According to Karen Shepard, Executive Director of the Arizona Quality Alliance, the Showcase in Excellence Award program is based on the Malcolm Baldrige Award criteria and encourages excellence in quality, performance and outcomes.

“AQA is proud to continue empowering organizations to pursue performance excellence, improve outcomes and contribute to the economic strength of their community and state,” Shepard said.

Rio Salado College Vice President of Academic Affairs Dana Offerman said receiving the award reinforces the college’s culture of innovation and its commitment to relentless improvement.

“We are pleased to be recognized for our Course Lifecycle Process,” said Offerman. “This data-driven system allows us to analyze and evaluate our courses while being responsive to the changing needs in higher education.”

The Course Lifecycle Process is a custom built product.  It works with Rio Salado’s existing systems to track each course from proposal until retirement. By providing empirical data for review, the process allows decision makers to respond intelligently to changes in the higher education environment.

Awards will be presented at a banquet to be held from 11:30am-1:00pm on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at the Chaparral Suites Resort, 5001 N. Scottsdale Road.

About Rio Salado College:
Rio Salado College was established in 1978 by the Maricopa Community College District to provide the next step in education for non-traditional students. The college, headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, is one of the largest online public community colleges in the nation serving more than 67,000 students annually. In addition to providing high-quality instruction for 100+ degree and certificate pathways, Rio Salado is dedicated to providing flexible, affordable access through;  adult basic education, collaborative partnerships, early college initiatives and online learning.

About Arizona Quality Alliance
The Arizona Quality Alliance is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that advances improvement and excellence in organizations, communities and individuals throughout Arizona, Nevada and Utah. The AQA is administered by a professional staff under the leadership and guidance of its members and elected Board of Directors. The AQA is also a member of the Alliance for Performance Excellence, a national network of state programs that advance improvement in organizations by using the Baldrige Criteria.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Book Advances Scheduled For Jan. 7 Start Date

Paying for College: Book Advances

Holiday closures and limited service hours may have an impact on the timing of Book Advance disbursements for students who begin classes January 7.

Book Advance money for the January 7 start date will be released to eligible students beginning December 17. Although this is 10 days earlier than the standard Book Advance schedule, students should not expect to receive book advance money prior to the holiday break.

The early release of book advance money is only for eligible students who are enrolled in classes that begin January 7. No other start dates will be affected.

The Book Advances will be manually processed by the Financial Aid department as a courtesy to help avoid delays when purchasing books. Students with the January 7 start date should also plan for limited bank hours, shipping delays and other holiday-related interruptions that could cause problems when ordering books online.

For more information on the Book Advance program and eligibility requirements visit

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Savor the Winter Season Locally

When you think of growing produce, herbs, and spices, Arizona may not be the location that comes to mind, but, as it turns out, it is the perfect place to grow these edibles.

“Winter is the biggest season for growing produce in Arizona,” said Joshua Sundberg, sustainable gardening instructor at Rio Salado College. “You don’t lose food to the winter here, and you don’t even really lose it to the heat. This is one place where you can literally have a garden year round.”

During winter, greens and other vegetables like kale, arugula, broccoli, eggplant, cabbages, tomatoes, and peppers are readily available.

Sundberg says some of these foods and others are even better when left on the vine.

“Some plants like melons and others are better the longer they are left on the vine,” Sundberg said. “As the plant is ripens, all of the acids turn into sugar making it sweeter.”

This is also the case with peppers.

“Peppers that are watered a little bit less have to work harder to provide a better product so you get hotter, sweeter peppers,” Sundberg said.

Spice up your Cuisine 
Another plus for Arizona’s growing season is the ability to keep herbs in your garden year round.

“Rosemary, basil, pineapple sage, and lemon grass are a few examples,” Sundberg said.

As the season changes, the Café at Rio tries to focus on herbs like these and other seasonal foods.

“Over the winter, greens from our garden and local farms will be featured in the Café,” Sundberg said. “We love to use broccoli rabe and arugula, and I’ve planted rainbow chard this year. It has a really awesome splash of color.”

Sundberg says the nice thing about having a garden on-site is that things are usually harvested based on need which helps to reduce the amount of leftovers.

When dealing with leftovers this holiday season, Sundberg suggests turning those foods into compost or using them in combination with other foods to make an entirely new dish.

Here’s one chard recipe to try this holiday season.

Sautéed Swiss Chard With Parmesan and Lemon Serves 2-4

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 medium yellow onion,  julienned

2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped

2 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Salt and black pepper to taste

In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil.

Add onion and sauté until translucent.

Add garlic, sauté for 30 seconds and then add greens.

Sauté greens for 1 minute and then add water. 

Cover skillet and reduce heat to medium. Let greens steam for 2 minutes.

Top greens with Parmesan cheese and fresh squeezed lemon juice. 

Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Note: Many recipes call for you to remove the center stem of greens. If your greens are young and tender, this is not necessary. Try this recipe as an appetizer served on top of garlic-rubbed bruschetta toast or as a side dish with your favorite fish. 

This article can also be found in the December 7 edition of the Tempe Republic.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Financial Aid Eligibility

Paying for College: Financial Aid Eligibility
Students are required to maintain a satisfactory grade point average and make progress toward their degree in order to use federal student aid to pay for college.

As students complete their courses each academic term, Rio Salado College automatically evaluates whether the Standards of Academic Progress (SAP) set forth by the Maricopa County Community College District have been met.

Automated SAP programing determines financial aid eligibility based on:
  • Grade Point Average – Students must meet a minimum GPA based on the total number of credits attempted.  
  • Progress – Students must successfully complete 2/3 of all courses attempted. Progress is calculated cumulatively and carries over from one term to the next. 
  • Maximum Time Frame – Students who have already attempted more than 150% of the required credits for a program will no longer be able to pay for the program using federal financial aid. 
Students who do not meet all three criteria for satisfactory academic progress are no longer eligible to receive financial aid and are sometimes asked to return a portion of the aid they've already received.

Students who have lost their financial aid eligibility due to unsatisfactory academic progress or to the time frame requirement may appeal the decision using the Appeal for Satisfactory Academic Progress and Appeal for Maximum Timeframe forms. Keep in mind that submitting an appeal does not guarantee eligibility will be restored.

Visit to learn more about financial aid eligibility requirements.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

RSC’s Public Website Gets a New Look!

Just in time for the Holidays, Rio Salado’s public website,, is getting a makeover. Beginning Wednesday, Dec. 5, visitors to the website will notice a completely redesigned homepage that features a streamlined layout. The new “StartAtRio” initiative will be highlighted on the site, as well as a focus on Online Learning and the RSC Community. Along with a new color scheme, users will notice some changes to site navigation including a new footer, and more prominently placed social media accessibility.

In addition, the Programs webpage is also getting a new look. Page content remains the same, but has been reorganized in an easy-to-read format. The new webpages are also mobile-device friendly, to appeal to our student base.

To see before and after screen shots highlighting all the changes, click here.

Note: Any website updates/change requests will be on hold until after the launch on Wednesday.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dr. Bustamante Joins CAEL Board of Trustees

Rio Salado College President Dr. Chris Bustamante has been elected to the board of trustees of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).

 “Our new board members have an outstanding track record of innovation in higher education, human resources, and employee education and training,” said CAEL president and CEO Pamela Tate.

With a membership of more than 600 organizations, CAEL works within the higher education, public, and private sectors to make it easier for people to get the education and training they need to attain meaningful, secure employment.
“It is important to recognize the knowledge and skills that our students bring to their educational experience. When they receive credit for prior learning, costs are often reduced and time to completion is accelerated,” said Dr. Chris Bustamante.
Rio Salado College offers many credit for prior learning options. It is the largest of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges located in metropolitan Phoenix, and is the fastest-growing public online community college in the nation. Dr. Bustamante is well-known as an advocate for increasing access to higher education. He has forged transformational partnerships with business, government, and other educational providers.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Karen Hawkes Awarded for Excellence

Congratulations to Karen Hawkes of Gateway Community Early College High School in Phoenix for winning the 99.9 FM KEZ Excellence in Education Award for November 2012.

Hawkes, was nominated by Peggi Peaslee who works in the classroom with Hawkes on Thursdays focusing on helping students choose a career with purpose.

In Peaslee's nomination letter she wrote how impressed she was with Hawkes and her devotion to her students’ success. She even mentioned that Hawkes works to loan business attire out to students who are going to job or college interviews so that they may be able to best represent themselves.

"I have observed her teaching and interacting with her class and her passion for empowering and inspiring these students is incredible."

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.

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.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

RSC Continues Support of OER Movement

The movement to create and distribute free educational content is not new. Education advocates have been exploring the potential of digital media and open source licensing for about 10 years.

According to Rio Salado College Director of Instructional Design and Technology Michael Medlock, the idea is to expand access to higher education by creating open educational resources (OER) that can be modified and redistributed by anyone.

"The spirit of OER is that anyone can take content for their own reuse, revision, and remixing without having to pay a license fee," Medlock said. "OER will inevitably provide more universal access to learning content. However, I anticipate that the biggest impact will be in the area of creating value for the learner. “

Medlock said that although the value of OER is already visible in open source textbooks and online educational content, he believes the real impact is yet to come.

"The value is in more than just the purchase price of materials," Medlock said. "At this point in time, learners need more than knowledge, they need credentials that indicate learning has occurred. They need a way to demonstrate to potential employers that they have the knowledge and skills to do the job."

Medlock went on to explain that existing processes at RSC have positioned the college to take full advantage of open learning materials.

"RSC's course development, design, and production processes ensure that open source content is vetted and utilized appropriately. We are easily able to utilize low cost or free materials while still ensuring quality teaching and learning," Medlock said. "So when a student earns an official grade it carries the value of coming from an accredited institution of higher learning."

In addition to OER projects including cost free textbooks and a growing number of courses utilizing open content, Rio Salado College will soon offer publicly available learning materials through the Rio Commons initiative.

"Becoming part of the OER movement includes minimal risk with a chance at high success," Medlock said. "That success will be judged on the dimensions of providing access to more learners and lowering the costs for all learners."

In some cases, the learning materials available on Rio Commons will be portions of actual RSC course content. It will be used to support current students and allow potential students to see the type of learning available to them. Other OER content will be created exclusively for Rio Commons through partnerships and grant funding.

"We are providing a great educational product to our community," Medlock said. "And Rio Salado gets the additional value of being able to use grant-funded OER within our for-credit courses."

Medlock said he feels the project is a direct result of Rio Salado's culture of innovation.

"Rio Salado College was founded to advance education through access and affordability," Medlock said. "Participation in the OER movement is a simple extension of the work we were already doing."

"Innovation is an important aspect of the college's culture, and there are processes in place at RSC that make innovation less risky than it might be at other institutions," Medlock said. "Employees are encouraged and willing to try to new things in the spirit of relentless improvement."

Learn more about RSC's support of the OER movement: Cost Free Textbook (Sept. 21, 2011), Creative Commons Classes (Sept. 28, 2011), Looking Ahead (Oct. 5, 2011)

This article can also be found in the Nov. 17 edition of the Tempe Republic.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

East Valley Veterans Find Support at the EVVEC

Marine Corps Veteran Lance Fredericks
Returning to a civilian life can be difficult for some veterans who struggle adjusting to life outside the military.

For Lance Fredericks, a veteran of the Marine Corps, going back home to be a stonemason was a more difficult step than anticipated.

“It was hard,” Fredericks said.

He eventually ended up in prison, where someone gave him a pamphlet about help veterans can receive.

When he was released he went to a homeless center for veterans and was assigned a case worker.

“She pointed me in this direction,” Fredericks explained.

The direction he headed was toward the East Valley Veteran’s Education Center in Tempe, a one-stop shop for veterans and their families.

“It made me realize that someone actually cares about vets,” Fredericks said.

The EVVEC offers veterans the opportunity to reintegrate with society by helping veterans receive benefits, start on education and set a path for their future.

Darcy Breault, the office coordinator at the EVVEC, loves her job because of her passion for helping others.

“It’s really a privilege to sit down with someone and help them navigate through these things,” she said.

The EVVEC has a computer lab open for use, hosts workshops for resumes, educational and workforce development, and can make referrals to community resources such as housing, medical care, and job listings.

“We’re here to listen and support, and be patient,” Breault explained.

For David Scoggins, being able to come in, get help applying for benefits and explore his options was exactly what he needed.

“The resources here are amazing,” said the Navy veteran.

After an honorable discharge from the Navy in 1995, he was lost for what he could do with his life. Scoggins felt like he was lost in the dark, until he walked into the education center.

“It was like sunlight when you walk in,” Scoggins described.

Scoggins has a bachelor’s degree in social work and is currently pursuing entrance to law school.

For Fredericks, the center gave him the opportunity to start getting an education and gave him something to focus on.

“School is my social life…it keeps me focused,” he said.

For him, the love and support of his parents, along with the help and resources of the education center, gave him the boost he needed to get started on his life.

“It if wasn’t for this place, I wouldn’t have anything,” he said.

His goal is to start his own business designing customized head stones, which combines his skills as a mason and his college education.

Fredericks said it all came down to the moment when he decided to let someone help him out.

“It’s a pride thing,” he said.

While he has a full day of classes and studying at both Arizona State University and Phoenix College, he still carries pamphlets and hands them out to any homeless veterans he comes across.

“To any vets out there, put your pride aside. There’s help out there,” he stated.

His dedication to his studies fills his day starting with class at 7:30 in the morning until he returns home at 11:00 at night.

“It’s wearing me out, but I am determined to finish it,” he said.

The East Valley Veterans Education Center is a unique facility created to provide veterans and their families with educational and vocational resources, all in one location. The 5,000 square foot facility opened in 2011 in collaboration with five colleges of the Maricopa County Community College District; Rio Salado (host institution), Chandler-Gilbert, GateWay, Mesa, and Scottsdale. Government and community partners.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rio Salado College and KJZZ Celebrate Opening of RSC Thomas & SPOT 127 Youth Media Center

Both locations offer educational opportunity to traditional and at-risk students in Maryvale

Phoenix, AZ – Nov. 5, 2012 — Rio Salado College and 91.5 KJZZ will join together to celebrate the opening of both RSC’s Thomas location and KJZZ’s SPOT 127 Youth Media Center on November 28. The public is invited to attend a traditional ribbon cutting ceremony and program at 8 a.m. and/or a block party celebration that afternoon from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. at 3631 and 3701 W. Thomas Road, Phoenix, AZ.

“These two locations bring educational opportunity and empowerment to the residents of Maryvale and central Phoenix,” said Rio Salado College President Chris Bustamante, Ed.D. “It is imperative that we reach out and serve students in their local neighborhoods to help them take the next steps in achieving their academic goals.”

RSC Thomas focuses on bridging pathways to post-secondary education, internships and career advancement. It provides adult basic education, where students can come take GED preparation classes or learn English as a second language. Essential student services such as academic advising, computer accessibility, a testing center and tutoring are also available at the site for RSC’s online learners. The location is also home to a demonstration kitchen, lab spaces and classrooms to support post-secondary classes.

“I don’t see how I cannot succeed, in coming here,” said GED student Stephanie Caroll. “I think this is just the first step to a wonderful life, and I can’t wait.”

The newly renovated facility is more than 22,000 square feet and opened to serve students in July. The new location is currently serving more than 500 students. While these adult students access resources at RSC Thomas, at-risk high school students are served next door through KJZZ’s SPOT 127 Youth Media Center.

SPOT 127 is an innovative after-school program designed to empower high school students through the development of state-of–the-art skills in digital media, radio and journalism. The nine month long program provides access to professional media equipment, mentoring by industry leaders and project-based instruction. The center opened in June with 11 students attending a boot camp session. It is currently teaching a class of 50.

“Studies show that students who participate in high quality after-school programs are more likely to earn better grades, develop strong work habits and experience a higher level of self-confidence,” said KJZZ’s General Manager and Rio Salado College Division of Public Service Vice President, James Paluzzi, Ph.D.

The nearly 7,500 square foot building was made available through a partnership with the Phoenix Union High School District. Renovations were made possible through the generosity and donations of many community partners.

SPOT 127 participant Gabriel Gamino said that he likes the hands on aspect of the program.

“You learn it, you do it, you experience it,” Gamino said. “Just take the opportunity, any open door you get, just go for it, and someplace like this, it’s going to change your life.”

Media previews are available upon request.


Rio Salado College was established in 1978 by the Maricopa Community College District to provide the next step in education for non-traditional students. The college, headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, was recently recognized as the fastest growing community college in the nation serving nearly 70,000 students annually. In addition to providing high-quality instruction for 100+ degree and certificate pathways, Rio Salado is dedicated to providing flexible, affordable access through; adult basic education, collaborative partnerships, early college initiatives and online learning.

KJZZ is a listener-supported public radio station that is licensed to the Maricopa Community College District. It is a community service of Rio Salado College’s Division of Public Service, which also includes KBAQ 89.5 and Sun Sounds of Arizona. KJZZ features a mix of local and NPR news, entertainment, jazz and blues—serving nearly 319,000 weekly listeners. For more information, visit

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Technical Training Allows Students to Smile

Rio Salado College’s innovative IBEST program gives students a leg up by helping them develop skills in technical fields. IBEST stands for Integrated Basic Education Skills Training program. Current students in the IBEST program are focusing on dental assisting technology.

“The IBEST program is designed to prepare students to take their GED exam,” said Kristina Kidd, dental assistant facilitator at Rio Salado College. “It also prepares them to work in the field of dental assisting upon completion of the dental assisting technology program.”

IBEST targets people who do not have a high school diploma. To participate in the program, students must have an 8th grade reading level and meet other admission requirements.

Once admitted, students work hands-on and are taught a number of professional skills such as resume preparation, interview and communication techniques, as well as the practical technical skills that are required of the job.

“Students will have to work in the mouth of their peers and act as a patient,” said Kidd. “Blood is present in the dental clinic, as are needles and blood borne pathogens.”

After students have learned in class they go out and practice even more by completing a required internship.

“The program provides the students with one internship site. The student has to interview and be accepted by the site,” said Kidd. “Our goal is to place students in a general practice where they will have exposure to all types of dentistry.”

The IBEST program comes with some challenges that might be a little different than what some students are used to.

“The courses are very fast paced and students have to be mentally prepared to take on the challenge,” said Kidd.

Students have to abide by a mandatory attendance policy and also take time out to prepare for the course outside of the in-person portion of the curriculum. The time it takes a student to prepare can range from two to four hours per day.

“There are study habits that need to be formed,” Kidd said. “Sleep can be affected, and job and home settings may have to be adjusted.”

With so many adjustments to be made Kidd says it can be a tough challenge to overcome all of the educational and life obstacles.

“It typically is a very different pace for the students and it can create a lot of stress,” said Kidd.

To help alleviate some of that stress Kidd notes that the college is always ready to offer assistance but it is also the student’s job to seek out help if needed.

“We do offer services to help with many obstacles a student may face, including success coaches, advisors and counselors,” Kidd said.

With others there to help and encourage the students, the IBEST program is confident in the student’s abilities to succeed. “We encourage students to continue their education,” said Kidd. “There are so many paths to choose from in the dental assisting technology field.”

By Erica White, PR Intern at Rio Salado College
This story also appeared in the November 3 Edition of the Tempe Republic

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

BBC Newsday to Profile Arizona Voters Live on 91.5 KJZZ

Phoenix, Oct. 29, 2012 The BBC Newsday team will be here in Phoenix as part of its coverage of the U.S. Presidential election— to gauge what Arizona residents have on their minds on the eve of the election during a live, special edition of BBC’s Newsday on 91.5 KJZZ, Thu., Nov. 1, 8 p.m. – 1:30 a.m.

BBC hosts Nuala McGovern and Lerato Mbele will be putting Valley residents at the heart of the show’s global news content as they broadcast live from a local family home.

From the economy, the deficit and healthcare, to immigration and foreign policy, Newsday hosts will ask Arizonans how these issues affect their day-to-day lives and what they really think about the people in charge setting the political agenda.

The special will also focus on immigration and the changing demographics in Phoenix, how SB 1070 is affecting the lives of undocumented immigrants and the heated Maricopa County Sherriff’s race with featured guest, KJZZ News Director Peter O’Dowd. KJZZ Reporter Nick Blumberg will also contribute a report about the sentiments of Arizona’s senior voters and KJZZ Fronteras: the Changing America Desk Reporter Michel Marizco will report live from Tucson on how border issues are playing out in the election.

Phoenix is one of three cities Newsday chose to profile as part of its special coverage of the U.S. elections. The first stop was Seattle on Oct. 26 and then the crew is off to Denver for live election night coverage.

Newsday is a daily current affairs programs heard on public radio stations throughout the U.S. and globally on the international news network BBC World Service. BBC World Service is an American Public Media program partner featured daily on 91.5 KJZZ.

KJZZ invites local media outlets to participate. To schedule interviews with BBC and KJZZ reporters, please contact KJZZ Associate General Manager, News and Editorial Strategy Mark Moran at (480) 774-8230 or                           

About KJZZ 91.5
KJZZ is a listener-supported public radio station that is licensed to the Maricopa Community College District. It is a community service of Rio Salado College’s Division of Public Service, which also includes KBAQ 89.5 and Sun Sounds of Arizona. KJZZ features a mix of local and NPR news, entertainment, jazz and blues—serving nearly 319,000 weekly listeners. For more information, visit


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

RSC Awarded $970,000 NGLC Grant to Expand Student Pathways

Rio Salado College has been awarded $970,000 from Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC), an initiative dedicated to improving college readiness and completion to expand higher education pathways in early college programs, educational service partnerships and credit for prior learning. This award is part of the $5.4 million recently awarded to Wave III grantees which comprise 20 secondary and 10 postsecondary schools to support 13 new models of personalized, blended learning. 

“NGLC’s Wave III grantees are the new-model builders. They are designing schools and college-level learning pathways that encourage access, persistence, and completion in learning environments that marry technology and close attention to students’ individual needs,” said Andrew Calkins, Deputy Director of NGLC. “They are striving to accelerate and deepen learning for today’s digital-native students, who come to school with high expectations for engagement and personalization.”

This funding will help Rio Salado College accelerate the timeline to degree completion by providing students expanded opportunity in high schools, the workplace and ability to earn credit for what they already know. In addition, the college will create a customized online student portal where students can see their progress, map their road to degree completion and connect them with mentors to encourage them throughout the process.

“If we are to increase the number of college graduates and provide our communities with an educated workforce, we need new models of higher education,” said Rio Salado College President, Chris Bustamante Ed.D. “We must be innovative. We must accelerate completion through our public and private partnerships. We must be cost-efficient and effective in leveraging technology in order to expand access and increase our ability to serve students.”

NGLC’s purpose in funding scalable, breakthrough models is to enrich the landscape of these bold experiments in learning design and to inform the development of innovative practices in other schools and colleges. Through extensive study of the new models’ experience and the sharing of strategies, lessons learned, and evidence – including both positive and negative student outcomes – NGLC seeks to ensure that this new-model development serves the entire education sector, including practitioners, policy leaders, researchers, and innovators.

“The field’s response to NGLC’s challenge has exceeded our hopes,” Calkins said, “and is a strong indication of the rapidly deepening interest and activity surrounding these new, digitally-supported, personalized approaches to learning.”


About Rio Salado College
Rio Salado College was established in 1978 by the Maricopa Community College District to provide the next step in education for non-traditional students. The college, headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, was recently recognized as the fastest growing community college in the nation serving nearly 70,000 students annually. In addition to providing high-quality instruction for 100+ degree and certificate pathways, Rio Salado is dedicated to providing flexible, affordable access through;  adult basic education, collaborative partnerships, early college initiatives and online learning.

About Next Generation Learning Challenges
Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) accelerates educational innovation through applied technology to dramatically improve college readiness and completion in the United States. This multi-year program provides investment capital to expand the use of proven and emerging learning technologies, collects and shares evidence of what works, and fosters innovation and adoption of solutions which will dramatically improve the quality of learning in the United States, particularly for low-income students and students of color.

NGLC Organizational Partners and Funders: Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) is a partnership led by EDUCAUSE and funded primarily by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Other partners include the League for Innovation in the Community College, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Funding for NGLC has also been provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Media Contact:
Delynn Bodine

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rae "Kimo" Ormsby Awarded for Excellence

Congratulations to Rae "Kimo" Ormsby of Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix for winning the 99.9 FM KEZ Excellence in Education Award for September 2012.

Ormsby, was nominated by Amber Kalsow who is a student in Ormsby's Spanish class.

In Kaslow's nomination letter she acknowledged her teacher for his desire to change students' lives through his Spanish class and give them the best education.

"This course has not only taught me Spanish but it has also made me learn a lot about myself.  Kimo makes you think in depth.  Kimo is not a person who looks at teaching as his only a job.  It is what he loves to do."
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.

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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Education Reforms Lives of Incarcerated Students

Kevin Puckett had a rough start in life landing him in prison for more than a decade. Despite his rocky past, he's doing well.

Puckett was recently released from prison and is now only one class shy of graduating from Rio Salado College with an associate degree. His plans are to continue his education, become a counselor and start his own business.

Puckett is one of more than 2,000 students a year who have accessed RSC classes while incarcerated. He began taking courses and found that he was not only capable of completing school work, he was good at it.

“For me, it was life altering. I was completely motivated to do something positive,” he said.  “The teachers are always very, very fast to say, 'Hey, you know, you are doing excellent.'"

Puckett worked hard, saving what little money he earned at his prison job to pay for the classes and proved that he wanted to change his life for the better through education.

“I showed Rio Salado that I was a serious student,” he said.

Eventually, his efforts as a serious student turned him into a teacher. He began teaching GED classes to other inmates, hoping to inspire them to pursue a better life.

Heidi Jaeger, an RSC administrative assistant who oversees much of the incarcerated education programs, sees education as an opportunity for those who are incarcerated.

“The ones that have taken courses are well grounded and ready to give back to the community,” she said.

Jaeger says that when students can focus on their classes they often avoid trouble.

“Once they get those first few classes under their belts, they realize they can reach for the stars,” she said.

Laura* was incarcerated for three years. During her time in prison she also took classes with Rio Salado College and now has two degrees.

“I just can’t describe what that does for you,” she said about how college classes increased her confidence.

Laura was a high school dropout. A long road of mistakes and bad choices left her feeling hopeless and lost until she began her in-prison Rio Salado College classes.

“It gave us goals to look forward to. I don’t know where I would be right now without those classes,” she said.

College classes can strengthen an inmate's resolve to improve their life. One opportunity leads to another until eventually they've found a way to rise above their mistakes, leaving the past behind them...for good.


Rio Salado College has been providing education for the prison population since 1983 and currently provides classes for all of the Arizona State correctional facilities, juvenile detention centers, the Arizona State Hospital, and multiple out of state correctional facilities.

*Requested that her last name not be used.

By Matt Loper, PR Intern

This story can also be found in the October 13th edition of the Tempe Republic.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

RSC Promotes Real Food with Food Day Event

Food Day is around the corner and Rio Salado College will be one of many locations to celebrate this national event. The free event, scheduled to take place October 24, has many objectives but its most important goal is to reshape attitudes toward the consumption of sustainable foods.

RSC Director of Sustainable Foods Systems Michael Hodgins says sustainability is important because it leads to better individual health and the health of the environment.

“Sustainable foods are foods we can obviously eat and they’ll sustain us, nourish us- generally healthy foods,” Hodgins said.

Sustainable foods are often preferred over foods produced in the industrial model because they are grown without chemical fertilizers that deplete the soil. Sustainably produced foods are considered healthier and more ideal for consumption.

By supporting Food Day and the real-food movement, Rio Salado encourages a more sustainable lifestyle and promotes farm-to-table meals that support local agriculture.

“Farm to table is pretty much about supporting your local farmer and trying to get stuff locally sourced,” Hodgins explained. “It’s not something being shipped across the world, so you’re not polluting the environment and you don’t have all of those food miles as part of it.”

Farm-to-table also means the food is coming straight from the farmer, something the college practices in addition to using food from its own garden.

“We have a garden here. About 15 percent of the produce we use in the café comes from the garden.” Hodgins said. “We also work with several farms in the valley- Love Grows, Maya’s Farm, and Rhiba Farms in Chandler.”

With the help of these same farms, RSC’s Food Day celebration will provide a closer look at the principles of the real-food movement from an economic, social and environmental standpoint. All of which, according to Michael Hodgins, are things the college is trying to support and implement.

Food Day is open to everyone in the community. It will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 24th from 11a.m. to 1 p.m. at Rio Salado College in Tempe. The event will include gardening demonstrations, cooking demonstrations, healthy cooking tips, and a farmer’s market where people can stop by to shop for local produce.

This event is sponsored by the sustainable foods programs at Rio Salado College, Mesa Community College and Tempe High School.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

RSC Receives Sloan Workplace Excellence Award

Rio Salado College has received an Alfred P. Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility in workplace practices for the second year in a row.

This award is given to employers for their skillful use of flexibility as a strategy to increase workplace effectiveness and success. Winners are identified through a rigorous selection process, which involves an evaluation of employers’ flexibility programs and practices from telecommuting to job sharing to phased retirement programs and a confidential employee survey.

The award was presented to the college at the Chandler Chamber of Commerce’s When Work Works recognition breakfast today at the Crowne Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort in Chandler. In addition to receiving the award, the college will also be featured in the next edition of the Guide to Bold New Ideas for Making Work Work.

Other award recipients include: Arizona Bar Foundation, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Arizona Small Business Association, Autohaus Arizona, Inc., BDO USA, LLP, Deloitte,, Henry &Horne, LLP, Infincom, KeatsConnelly, KPMG, Microchip Technology Inc., Morrison & Associates CPA, Orchard Medical Consulting, Ryan LLC, Scottsdale Healthcare, Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, Verde Valley Sanctuary and Wist Office Products.

This is an initiative of Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility are part of When Work Works, a national project to educate the business community on the value of workplace effectiveness and flexibility.

About The Chandler Chamber of Commerce 
The Chandler Chamber of Commerce is a membership organization, serving the business community of Chandler, Arizona and the East Valley. The Chandler Chamber of Commerce supports business and our community by providing vital programs and services that attract and retain business while embracing our diversity. The Chandler Chamber of Commerce is the only chamber in Arizona to be selected as a community partner in this endeavor.

About When Work Works
When Work Works is a national initiative, led by the partnership of Families and Work Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), to help businesses of all sizes and types become more successful by transforming the way they view and adopt effective and flexible workplaces. When Work Works is one of the foremost providers of resources, rigorous research and best practices on workplace effectiveness and flexibility in the nation. The initiative administers the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility annually, which recognize exemplary employers for using flexibility as an effective workplace strategy to increase business and employee success. Visit and follow us on Twitter @FWINews and @SHRM.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

RSC,SMCC Presidents Join Entrepreneurship Forum

The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), the nation’s leading organization focused on promoting entrepreneurship through community colleges, has announced that Chris Bustamante, president of Rio Salado College and Shari  Olson, president of South Mountain Community College have joined its new Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum. Through this program, 186 community college presidents nationwide have committed to increase the focus on entrepreneurship at their institutions and the impact these colleges have on the economic wellbeing of the communities they serve.
 “Entrepreneurs are key to economic growth in our communities,” said Rio Salado College President Chris Bustamante, Ed.D. “Being a part of NACCE demonstrates Rio Salado’s commitment to providing needed support for those who are starting their own businesses.”

Rio Salado and South Mountain Community College are both part of the Maricopa Community College District located in the greater Phoenix area.

“South Mountain Community College has helped thousands of our students realize their dreams of going into business for themselves,” said South Mountain Community College President Shari Olson, Ph.D. “As an institution,  we are firmly committed to this initiative.”

About the Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum
The Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum is in response to the Obama Administration’s Startup America Call to Action to stimulate economic growth state by state by encouraging entrepreneurs to start their own businesses. NACCE is a founding affiliate of the Startup America Partnership, an alliance of the country’s most innovative entrepreneurs, corporations, universities, foundations, and other leaders.

According to NACCE Executive Director, Heather Van Sickle, the Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum is a way for community colleges to advance entrepreneurship and create jobs across the country. Community college presidents who join the Forum make five commitments:
                • Develop transparency of community college and community assets
                • Create internal and external teams dedicated to entrepreneurship
                • Increase entrepreneurs’ engagement in community colleges
                • Engage in industry cluster development
                • Create broad exposure to their college’s commitment to entrepreneurship.

“The five commitments were developed based on NACCE’s observations of what was working best on member campuses,” said Van Sickle. “After observing the entrepreneurship-related activities of our members over a period of years, we started to see commonalities among the more successful institutions,” she said. “One of the major things that clearly makes a difference is the commitment by leadership to entrepreneurship.”

The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is an organization of educators, entrepreneurs, and distinguished business development professionals providing quality programs and services in entrepreneurship education and serving as advocates community-based entrepreneurship. Founded in 2002, NACCE is at the heart of the "entrepreneurship movement.” Through membership, an annual conference and exhibition, a quarterly journal, monthly webinars and podcasts, a dynamic list-serve, and other resources, NACCE serves as the hub for the dissemination and integration of knowledge and successful practices regarding entrepreneurship education and student business incubation. These programs and courses advance economic prosperity in the communities served by its member colleges. NACCE is a founding member of the White House-led Startup America Partnership. For more information, visit Follow NACCE on Twitter at @NACCE and like the NACCE – National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship page on Facebook.

About Rio Salado College
Rio Salado College was established in 1978 by the Maricopa Community College District to provide the next step in education for non-traditional students. The college, headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, was recently recognized as the fastest growing community college in the nation serving more than 67,000 students annually. In addition to providing high-quality instruction for 100+ degree and certificate pathways, Rio Salado is dedicated to providing flexible, affordable access through;  adult basic education, collaborative partnerships, early college initiatives and online learning.

About South Mountain Community College
South Mountain Community College (SMCC) has served the higher education needs of Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Guadalupe and Laveen for more than 30 years, offering associate degrees, certificates of completion, courses that transfer to universities and technology training to more than 10,000 students annually.   SMCC is one of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

RSC Library to Host Open Reference Session

Learn about research sources, search strategies and bibliographies

On Wednesday, October 10, the Library at Rio Salado College will host a virtual reference session for students.  During this session, students will get help finding research sources, learn how to build a better bibliography and refine their keyword search strategy. The session is available anytime between 5:30 and 7 p.m. through teleconference or Join Me Pro online access. 

Date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Time: 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 
Teleconference: Call 480-517-8900 [Long distance call (800) 729-1197 (#8)].
When prompted, use the following conference ID: 2700
Online Access through Join Me Pro-Use the following link to join the session, and to see and share the librarian’s computer screen:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Language Skills Key to Personal and Professional Success

RSC's Oweene Stone teaches English
to students from all over the world.
Language Skills Key to Personal and Professional Success

Language is an important communications tool used by people every single day. For those who are not literate in a language, problems can arise not only with communications, but with self-esteem, and personal, educational and financial success.

As the nation observes National Literacy Month in September, Rio Salado College does its part year round by offering free in-person English Language Acquisition for Adults (ELAA) classes.

Currently, more than 1,800 students are taking advantage of ELAA classes.

“The program has students from all over the world,” said Blair Liddicoat, Associate Dean of Adult Basic Education at Rio Salado. “The skills students learn in class range from survival English at the beginning to higher level language that assists them in becoming productive members of society. We instruct them in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.”
Much like coming in from different places, the program caters to those with different educational needs.

“Students come to us with widely varying educational backgrounds. Even those who have many years of education back home may have not been in the classroom for many years. They have to start all over again and learn how to be a student,” Liddicoat explained.
The good thing about the instruction is that although the students have to start again by learning how to be a student, they can do so at their own pace.
“Our adult ELAA students have many personal concerns outside of the classroom that demand their attention,” said Liddicoat. “A student’s desire to attend our class, and the time they can give to the class have competition from all of these other concerns. With this in mind, the program does not give mid-term and final exams. Nor does it assign any formal homework.”

This may sound strange but it serves a greater purpose, a purpose that targets the optimal outcome for the student.

“This eases the students’ minds and removes much of the fear factor of the classroom,” said Liddicoat. “While the program expects the student to learn, it does not penalize the student for not learning as fast as other students.”

Whether fast learners or not, most of the ELAA students at Rio Salado walk away with more skills than they initially had. Liddicoat said he feels it would be quite difficult to carry out day-to-day tasks without having learned these skills.

“Imagine that you lived in another country and could not communicate in that country’s language,” Liddicoat said. “How could you ensure you were getting on the right bus? How could you talk to your children’s teachers? How could you know how much medicine the bottle told you to take? How could you get a job that paid a livable wage and allowed you to support your family and be a proud member of society?”

Given these scenarios, Liddicoat knows Language literacy is very important. With his help, and that of other faculty members at Rio Salado College, the college is well on its way to ensuring the students gain the necessary tools to effectively develop and enhance their Language Literacy skills.

Published in the Tempe Republic Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012.
Written by Rio Salado College PR Intern Erica White