Monday, April 23, 2012

Educated Child Care Providers Empower Communities

Written by Diana Abel, Rio Salado College Director for Early Childhood and Human Development
How important is outdoor play for children?

Aside from the opportunities to use gross motor skills while running, riding a bike, swinging on swings outdoor play for children is FUN!

Unstructured outdoor play provides a much needed outlet for stress (yes, young children experience stress) and is a great avenue for children to move their bodies and raise their voices in ways that are not appropriate while indoors.

Especially for children under the age of eight, learning occurs best when the whole self is involved. Outdoor play provides an ideal platform for uniting the body, mind and spirit in the carefree expressions of childhood.

Although a recent report from The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children should play outside for at least 60 minutes a day, another study from The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine states that almost half of three to five year olds don’t play outside on a daily basis.

Providing young children with the foundation and support they need is key for building and maintaining strong communities. As an educator in the field of Early Childhood and Human Development for nearly 30 years, I have seen the positive impact that well-educated family child care providers can have on a child and their family.

Rio Salado College student Sharnet Parker’s lifetime goal has been to provide quality care for children and families. Parker saw her goal become a reality and currently owns and operates Rising STARS Preschool and Childcare center in Chandler, Arizona.

“While raising my own two boys, in 1996 with the support of my husband and family, I fulfilled my dream by opening my family child care business,” Parker said.

She credits Rio Salado for providing educational and professional development support for her career. Parker has earned her Academic Certificate in Professional Development and is working toward an Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education.

More than 5,000 students currently take Early Childhood and Human Development classes at the college. Rio offers seven certificate and three associate degrees in Early Childhood and Human Development. The program provides a variety of pathways in online formats; infant/toddler, preschool, school age (after school programs), adolescence studies, family life education, adult development and aging and management of early childhood environments. The college also works directly with employers to bring selected courses to the workplace.

“It is my hope to inspire others,” Parker said. “My passion isn't just teaching children, it is also showing other providers how to be successful and to inspire them to provide quality care to young children.”

This next week, April 22 – 28, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) will be celebrating Week of the Young Child. As noted by NAEYC, the purpose of the week is to “focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.” Rio Salado College will celebrate the week by participating in a community event in Buckeye, and by hosting the Fifth-Annual Early Childhood Director’s Conference on April 21.

Published in Tempe Republic April 21, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Comics-Inspired Rio Salado College Magazine Available

Check out the latest issue of Rio Salado College Magazine . Print copies are now available at news stands throughout the Valley. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

RSC Promotes a Culture of Sustainability

Vehicle charging stations available at RSC Downtown 
At Tempe-based Rio Salado College, going green is more than just a marketing slogan. The college takes a broad view of its environmental responsibility and has integrated sustainability as a core value within the culture of the entire organization.

“Rio Salado takes a holistic approach to sustainability,” said Chris Bustamante, Rio Salado College President. “One that aligns knowledge with practices of economic, environmental, and social sustainability across disciplines in order to prepare students to think, live, and work in ways that will preserve or improve the environment.”

Rio provides access to 31 courses that deal with the social, cultural, ecological and economical elements of sustainability and offers an academic certificate in Sustainability and Ecological Literacy. Students can also choose a degree or certificate in sustainable food systems.

To further illustrate its commitment, the Rio Salado Sustainability Pledge is included in the program for the school’s GED graduation and college commencement ceremonies.

It’s not just a matter of teaching others how to be sustainable. Rio Salado strives to be a leader in environmental responsibility by incorporating earth-friendly practices throughout its daily operations.

Rio Salado became a charter signatory to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007 by vowing to reduce the carbon footprint of the institution and seek climate neutrality. In support of that goal, the college released its Climate Action Plan in 2008.

Since then, Rio has earned a Silver Rating for Sustainability from the national Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Reporting System. The college has also fostered collaboration among institutions of higher education through participation in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), and the Continuous Quality Improvement Network (CQIN).

Rio’s commitment to sustainability is evident in nearly every aspect of the planning, construction and maintenance of its new downtown Phoenix location.

“We are pleased to work and partner with a number of community leaders and organizations to make the vision of Rio Downtown and its focus on sustainability a reality,” Bustamante said.

During construction, over 90% of all construction waste was collected and recycled. The building has several energy saving features including LED lighting, native and low-water use landscaping and an innovative grey water system that reduce the use of potable water for irrigation, and highly calibrated CO2 sensors that maximize energy efficiency and indoor air quality by limiting outdoor air intake when carbon dioxide levels are acceptable.

As part of the Maricopa Community College District, Rio Salado is also helping establish crucial infrastructure for the next generation of transportation by making electric vehicle charging stations available to the public at its satellite locations throughout the valley.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Public Policy Forum Promotes Civic Responsibility

The Student Public Policy Forum (SPPF) is a two-semester academic program that provides an overview of local, state, and national public-policy making. Participants will learn the importance of civic responsibility and the value of citizen advocacy. The 2012-13 SPPF is presented in a hybrid format utilizing in-person and online elements to provide students with an up-close understanding of how government works. The experience culminates in a trip to Washington, D.C., where students have the opportunity to lobby members of Congress and their staff on important issues in higher education.

Why join SPPF?

Through participation in SPPF students will . . .
  • Gain confidence and interact with public officials 
  • Communicate effectively in a political context 
  • Effectively advocate for (and with) your community 
  • Learn the how and why of consensus building 
  • Develop and refine leadership skills 
Admission Requirements:
  • Maintain a minimum enrollment of six credit hours at a Maricopa Community College during the Fall and Spring semesters 
  • Register for the SPPF section of POS115 during the spring semester 
  • Be a U.S. citizen or lawful resident 
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above for all college coursework and maintain a semester GPA of 2.5 or above 
  • Agree to all program guidelines and ground rules 

The SPPF application deadline for the 2012-13 school year is Friday, April 27, 2012. For more information about the Student Public Policy Forum visit the Rio Salado College SPPF webpage.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Internship Offers a Variety of Experiences to One ASU Senior

"Great to see you Jordan!" calls a volunteer, as Jordan Moon sits down at his office cubicle at Sun Sounds of Arizona. "Yeah, good to see you too, Ben," he replies.

Moon is speaking metaphorically. Like many of the 49,000 people who use the statewide radio reading service, he is blind.

A senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, Moon spends several hours a week as an intern in the marketing department of Sun Sounds. As one would expect, he performs the typical intern tasks – writing on-air promotions, feature stories, newsletter articles and press release for the state-wide radio reading service.

But Moon will tell you that this particular internship is one that has given him "great vision."

"Because of my internship, I can clearly see my future. I want to help people who are like me," he said.

And Moon has proven that he has the leadership potential and innate passion to make that goal a reality. In 2010 he co-founded Ability Counts Tempe, a disability awareness student group at ASU designed to promote social interactions between students with disabilities and the general ASU community.

Since Moon started his internship in January he has emphasized marketing Sun Sounds’ radio reading service to a younger, more technology-savvy audience. While a majority of listeners are over 60 years old, and listen to Sun Sounds on a special radio, Moon demonstrates how a younger generation that is familiar with smartphone accessibility might use the service. On his smartphone Moon opens the free iBlink Radio app, touches the "radio reading service" menu item, and then touches "Sun Sounds of Arizona Tempe." Instantly, the live radio broadcast begins to play.

Sun Sounds of Arizona, a community service of Rio Salado College, serves people living with disabilities that make it difficult to read print. Volunteers read newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals aloud over the radio, internet and telephone. The organization promotes accessibility as one of its core values. Staff, volunteers, and student interns alike have equal access to resources. Moon and others with visual impairments use screen reading computer software for office productivity and internet access. The radio broadcast software that controls all on-air programming is screen-reader friendly. Staff and volunteers are alert for walkway obstructions or unmarked hazards that could trip a person with a visual impairment.

Internships at Sun Sounds expose students to many aspects of broadcasting, social service and education radio reading service, and it also serves the organization. "Part of what we do is to teach our colleagues that people with visual disabilities are not unlike the rest of us. They use smartphones, they download apps, and they say ‘See you later’ just like I do," says Heidi Capriotti, Marketing Coordinator at Sun Sounds.

Moon will graduate in May with majors in journalism and political science, and intends to pursue a law degree. During his college career Moon’s articles have been published in the Arizona Republic, Arizona Capitol Times, Tucson Daily Star and ASU’s State Press.
Moon is now in the process of looking for a job and is interested in many areas, including music, journalism, politics, law, teaching and public relations. "But whatever I do," he says, "I want to make sure that I do it in the same manner as the staff and volunteers at Sun Sounds – with care, professionalism and passion. Hard work for the sake of helping people is inspirational and I now see as my clear path."

Friday, April 13, 2012

Rio Bikers Rally for Tempe Bike to Work Day

Wednesday, April 18 is Tempe Bike to Work Day.  From 6:30 a.m. until 8 a.m. riders can stop by a variety of local businesses to receive a free breakfast and T-shirt (while supplies last).  The Tempe City Council is supporting the annual event with a community bike ride from Whole Foods Market on Rural and Baseline to Ncounter on Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe. 

Several Rio Salado College employees are advocates for cycling as a form of transportation, exercise and recreation. Here’s what they have to say about it. 

James Paluzzi –Dean, Division of Public Service

    As transportation: “I bike to work every day. I take the light rail from downtown to Washington and Priest then bike the rest of the way.”
    Going green: “I started this sustainable transportation mode six years ago when I was at Colorado Public Radio in Denver. I got rid of my SUV, and continued the train/bike combination ever since. I was fortunate that Phoenix started its light rail service just three months before I started work at Rio Salado in 2009.”
    Even when it rains: “Some days, particularly during our rare bouts of inclement weather, I can put my bike on the 56 Bus that takes me to Washington and 14th Street -- a little less than a mile away from the Tower.”

Matt Freed – Marketing and Public Relations Executive Assistant

    For fitness: “I ride to have fun and stay in shape. I do enter races, but my goal is only to finish the race. I find the culture of competitive cyclists to be very positive and uplifting.”
    Getting started: “If you’d like to get into mountain biking or road riding, it’s important to invest in your bike and some essential gear. I recommend renting a bike from the local bike shop or go to a manufacturer’s demo day to see which type of cycling will suit you. An entry-level mountain bike will costs about $600-$1,000, so you want to make sure it’s what you want. You’ll also need a helmet, gloves, bike shorts, tools for changing a flat, tubes, lube, something to carry your water, and an understanding spouse (you’ll be gone a lot). ”
    Totally worth it: “It’s all worth it. It’s just like being a kid – that feeling of freedom doesn’t go away when you are out there pedaling.”

Eddie Calderon – Website Manager

    Why not?: “I have been riding bikes for a big chunk of my life. I just like to ride.”
    Tips and Tricks: “Plan out your path to avoid busy streets when possible. It’s really a much more enjoyable ride when you’re not jockeying for position with cars. Know how to change a flat tire – just in case. And I would avoid riding from July through mid-September, unless you really like riding in an oven.”
    Fast fact: “If you ride to work at Rio twice a week on a regular basis, you can get free access to the workout center. It’s the best way to clean up for work after a ride.” 

Bri Valdivia – KJZZ Producer, Here and Now

    To save money: “My bike became my main mode of transportation in June of 2008. Gas, car payments and insurance all take up so much cash that I’d rather carefully plan my trips around carpooling, public transportation, and biking.”
    Bonus points: “I get a sense of pride from being able to use my own strength to get from one place to another.”
    Safety advice: “Try to choose routes with bikes in mind and follow the rules. Always ride with traffic, if there's a bike lane DON'T ride on the sidewalk, use hand signals, and stop at stop signs. Also remember to ride defensively, you have to protect yourself from people who aren't paying attention. You may be in the right if someone hits you, but it's better to be alive than right!
    Fashion advice: “Wear a helmet, mussed hair is nothing compared to a head injury. And finally...a simple bandana tied above the knee with pins holding your skirt in place can do wonders.”
    Green with envy: “When you're on a bike (even when you're following rules!) a lot of people will gawk at you, act rude, or try to shout things at you from their motorized vehicles. These people are just intensely jealous of your majestic bicycle.”

Randy Kinkel – KBAQ 89.5 Host

    For exploring: “You don’t have to ride your bike on the same route you would use to drive your car to work. You can usually find quieter side streets to use. You’ll get to know your neighborhood better, you see more things on a smaller, more human scale than when you’re speeding by in your car. You might discover a great new park, shop or restaurant you’d never noticed before – I Have.”
    Epic Gears: “My bike is a vintage 1980s Univega road bike that I converted into a singlespeed. I only live about five miles from work, so I bike when I can to get exercise and save money on gas. I lost 20 lbs, plus it’s fun!”
    Rollin’ With the Homies: As any good Beethoven fan would, Kinkel keeps a bust of the classical composer handy that (coincidently) fits perfectly into his cargo basket.

Angela Ambrosia – Allied Health Faculty Chair

For fun: “I ride almost every day. It’s a chance to get out and meet the neighbors.”
And fitness: “I usually ride alone since my available time is varied. I have the UP wristband by Jawbone that tracks my movement to an iPhone app. Biking counts as exercise and steps. I try to keep around 5,000-10,000 steps a day.
And to impress the neighbors: “They really like my bright pink bike.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

KJZZ 91.5 FM Wins Award for Investigating Untold Stories

KJZZ’s Fronteras: the Changing America Desk has won its first national award for reporting. The National Headliner Awards are among the oldest awards of journalistic merit in the United States.

The story by KJZZ Senior Field Correspondent Michel Marizco, "The Drug War and Cartels Lead to an Exodus in Northern Mexico," was broadcast in June 2011 and can be found online at

KJZZ’s Marizco traveled to the Mexican state of Sonora to report on the towns that are emptying out due to drug-related violence. The town of Tubutama, in particular, has been affected by a narco-trafficker known as "El Gilo." Marizco spent time with the remaining residents of Tubutama, a 300-year-old mission town, and even found himself face-to-face with El Gilo.

"Any time a local drug lord shows up and talks to you on a piece, you know it’s going to be a great story," said Fronteras Senior Editor Alisa Barba, who edited the story and shares in the award.

Marizco has a habit of showing up at the right place and the right time, Barba said. "He really got to the essence of the fear and the violence in the hills of Sonora."

The Tucson-based reporter said he wanted to do a story about the places affected by the drug war that aren’t making headlines.

"This town had always interested me because a year prior El Gilo had successfully killed cartel members. He left 21 people dead and destroyed their vehicles in an ambush," Marizco said. Photos of those shot-up vehicles are part of the online version of the story.

"Nobody else is telling these stories," Barba said. "This is our territory with Fronteras."

The story was awarded second place in the Feature and Human Interest Story category for broadcast radio networks and syndicates.

Founded in 1934 by the Press Club of Atlantic City, the National Headliner Awards program is one of the oldest and largest annual contests recognizing journalistic merit in the communications industry.

KJZZ’s Fronteras: Changing America Desk is part of an unprecedented collaboration among seven public radio stations, led by a partnership between KJZZ and KPBS in San Diego and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Fronteras serves nearly one million public radio listeners in the Southwest. It is one of seven new Local Journalism Centers funded by the CPB to provide innovative approaches to news gathering and distribution. To learn more about the KJZZ’s Fronteras: Changing America Desk, visit KJZZ is a listener-supported public radio station that is licensed to the Maricopa Community College District. It is as 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 more than 306,000 weekly listeners.  For more information, visit 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Phi Theta Kappa to Raise Funds for American Cancer Society

The Alpha Theta Omicron chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at Rio Salado College is currently accepting new team members and donations for the 2012 American Cancer Society Relay for Life event.

Proceeds from the April 28 event will benefit a variety of American Cancer Society programs aimed at providing support to cancer patients and their families.

Student Emily Carlson who serves as the chapter’s vice president of fellowship encourages the entire Rio community to participate.

“We’d like to include as many people as we can,” Carlson said. “It’s a great cause and you don’t have to be athletic to be involved. Participants can walk or even just show up and mingle to show support.”

 “Events like this help us connect to other students and to the community,” Carlson said. “Many of us are online students and appreciate the opportunity to network and interact with our classmates in person.”

“It is a great feeling to contribute to others through PTK,” Carlson added. “This is our chapter’s first community activity of the year. Our goal is to raise at least $500, so dust off your walking shoes and get on the field!”

PTK is a national honor society for two-year college students. The organization promotes academic scholarship by providing opportunities for intellectual exchange, community service and leadership development.

Additional information can be found by visiting the Relay For Life website.  Rio Salado honors students and members of PTK can find additional discussion of this event in the Honors Students – Rio Salado College Facebook group (this is a closed group that will only be visible to members).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Communiversity at Surprise to Host APS Shade Tree Event

SURPRISE, Ariz. - Saturday, April 14, Arizona Public Service (APS) will be sponsoring a “Shade Tree Program” event at the Communiversity @ Surprise, 15950 N. Civic Center Plaza in Surprise. The APS Shade Tree Program will consist of two workshops beginning at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. with each workshop lasting approximately one hour. According to APS, planting trees can reduce your energy bill by $50 per year. Participants in the program will receive free trees for planting. Space is limited and registration is required. For more information and to register, visit

In conjunction with the event, Rio Salado College will be holding a Sustainable Food Systems organic food demonstration at the Communiversity and sharing sustainable practices used in the Garden @ Rio, which is located at the college’s Tempe headquarters. Topics will include cultivating soils, sowing, and harvesting to maximize sustainable efforts. The presentation will be located in the Communiversity @ Surprise’s lobby. The public is welcome. No registration required. For more information related to Rio Salado College’s Sustainable Food Systems demonstration please call 480-384-9001.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sustainable Food Systems Courses Increase Awareness of Real Food Movement

Rio Salado College’s Sustainable Food Systems certificate and degree programs provide students with an understanding of the concepts behind the real food movement. Even students with no culinary background can benefit from learning about the nation’s current food model and alternative methods for producing, purchasing and bringing meals to the table.

The sustainable food systems programs are offered in a hybrid format.  Online courses like FON143 Food and Culture explore the historical, religious and socio-cultural influences on the development of local cuisine and eating customs. In-person instruction is required for courses like AGS182 Gardening Practices and Techniques or CUL113 Commercial Baking Techniques which incorporate hands-on experience in the Garden at Rio and CafĂ© at Rio live learning labs.

Michael Hodgins, sustainable food systems director and advocate for the real food movement said he believes it’s important to encourage future chefs to create their menu with local in-season ingredients.

“We need to adjust how we approach our menu,” Hodgins said. “I used to think a good chef was one who could get anything in any season, but that’s just silly.”

 “As soon as produce is picked, it begins to deteriorate,” Hodgins said. “It makes much more sense to create a menu based on what’s in-season and locally available. Not only will the dishes have more flavor and nutritional value, but it also supports the local economy.”

Find more information on the sustainable food systems certificate and degree programs on the Rio Salado College website.

Rio Salado Celebrates Downtown Opening

Rio Salado College invites the community to celebrate the opening of its downtown location at 619 N. 7th Avenue on Tuesday, April 10 beginning at 8 a.m. The event will include a welcome reception with refreshments, short program, ceremonial ribbon cutting and tours of the new facility and its sustainable features. The downtown location will serve residential and business community needs through Adult Basic Education (ABE), English Acquisition for Adults (ELAA), college transition services, post-secondary support services, as well as green workforce training.

"This innovative facility offers a variety of success pathways for students. Regardless of where students are in their educational journey, they are given opportunities to learn at Rio Salado Downtown,” said Dr. Chris Bustamante, president of Rio Salado College. “It also responds to the Maricopa Community College District’s call to create Educational Empowerment Zones that bring together cities, social service agencies, businesses and educational institutions to strengthen surrounding communities.”

Rio Salado Downtown takes a holistic approach to environmental and civic sustainability. Instruction will align with practices of economic, environmental and social sustainability across disciplines – in order to prepare students to think, live and work in ways that will preserve or improve the environment.

The location opened in January 2012 and replaced a previously existing facility. It currently serves more than 600 students a day. The location hosts in-person classes for GED exam preparation, English acquisition classes for adults, houses the Adults Achieving a College Education (AACE) program as well as college transition services. All learners are provided academic advising, counseling, computer labs and tutoring at the site.

Phase two of the facility includes a partnership with nonprofit Brighten a Life, who will provide two environmentally friendly, energy-efficient schoolhouses. The Green Schoolhouse Series replaces portable classrooms in low-income Title 1 public schools with sustainable, technologically-advanced classrooms to enhance student learning and revitalize the surrounding community.

“Students will not only address sustainability through academic classes, but through the workforce training and partnerships offered here,” said Dr. Jo Jorgenson, dean of instruction and community development at Rio Salado College. “Our Downtown location will prepare Phoenix residents to retool existing skills for emerging green jobs in an environment that fosters sustainable attitudes and abilities.”

Rio Salado Downtown was built with the goal of obtaining LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) GOLD certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The 13,800 square foot, two-story facility, made possible by voter-approved 2004 bond, addressed sustainability in every aspect of construction from water, energy and light usage, to landscaping, HVAC systems and building materials.

Rio Salado College Downtown is open Monday – Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed Saturday and Sunday. It is located at 619 N. 7th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85007.

About Rio:

Rio Salado College is one of ten Maricopa Community Colleges and the largest online public community college in the nation, serving nearly 70,000 students annually with more than 43,000 online. Founded in 1978, Rio Salado offers degree and certificate programs and general education courses. The college also provides support for dual enrollment, military and incarcerated students. It is the largest provider of adult basic education in Arizona and served more than 9,500 students last year.

Media Contact:
Delynn Bodine

Monday, April 2, 2012

It's a Sign!

The Tower building at Rio Salado College’s Tempe headquarters has a new look.  The illuminated sign on the building’s south side, which is visible from the US 60 and Interstate 10, was updated this week to reflect the school’s current logo and branding.

“Nearly a million commuters drive past us every week,” said Natalie Meyer, media buyer for the college.  “The Rio building is extremely visible from the freeway, so we’re really excited to finally have the new logo up there.”

Replacing the sign has been a wish list project for the Rio Salado marketing team since 2008 when the new logo was introduced. Cost concerns and a statewide trend of education budget cuts delayed the project for several years, but as the age and condition of the previous sign raised questions about safety, the college moved forward to replace it.

“We had some concerns about the safety and the well being of our staff,” said Ernest Adkins, director of maintenance and operations at Rio Salado College. “We’re just glad to take it off the to-do list and we’re excited to have it done.”

Arrow Signs manually removed the old sign on Thursday using a 130’ lift. Installation of the new sign was completed on Friday and Saturday.