Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Student Spotlight: Welcome Home Ranch

Snapshot of Welcome Home Ranch web page and grounds.

A horse neighs. Another whinnies. The air is ripe with the distinct smell of barn. In the distance, hooves clomp along the hay-strewn ground, accompanied by the rhythmic tapping of…computer keyboards? Yes, a typical day at Welcome Home Ranch is in full swing.

Situated on 55 acres in the shadow of Gilbert’s San Tan Mountain, Welcome Home Ranch is work, home and school for 25 young men who have faced drug and alcohol addiction.

The property is one of three addiction recovery facilities that make up the Canada-based John Volken Academy.

“The concept is a two-year program where boys overcome their addictions, receive career and educational training and gain the tools they need to be successful in life,” said Brad Barrett, Education Director for Welcome Home Ranch and former superintendent of the Gilbert School District.

“At Welcome Home Ranch, we board 150 horses, operate a feed store and sell produce,” Barrett said. “One of the biggest responsibilities the boys have is putting on weekly rodeos and other public equine events in the arena. It’s a business and every boy has a job to do to keep the business going.”

Jobs include cleaning out stalls, feeding and washing the horses, working in the feed store, cooking, cleaning and maintaining the two onsite houses where the residents live.

When they are settled in and adjusted to life on the ranch, the boys have the opportunity to enroll in classes to further their education. Enter Rio Salado College, a pioneer of online learning in Maricopa County, and one of the largest community colleges in the nation.

“You can enroll in classes at Rio Salado every Monday,” Barrett said. “That’s perfect for us because boys come in at different times during the year.”

Online classes also work well with the ranch’s structured approach to daily living. Each day has dedicated time for chores, group sessions, life skills training and education.

“I think the biggest benefit to online classes is the ability to progress at your own pace,” said ranch resident Ryan Male, 22. “You can finish a class in one week or 16. It’s completely up to you.”

Male works hand in hand with Barrett to run the education department and credits the ranch program for finally helping him turn the corner on his addiction.

“I had actually been to nine other programs prior to this one,” Male said. “I ended up using drugs while at each of them. I sat in circles and talked about how I was going to stay clean and sober. I used to come up with awesome plans, but they never translated beyond the walls of the program.”

What made this program work?

“The John Volken Academy is work-based therapy,” Male said. “It’s a real-life simulator. The two years of practice and peer accountability offered here is what sets this program apart from all the rest.”

When Male first came to Welcome Home Ranch, he expected to only stay for a couple months. Now 21 months later, he has emerged as a role model and mentor for the other students.

Each day he makes himself available for tutoring in the ranch classroom – a small nondescript room tucked away in one of the horse barns.

“It feels great to pass a class with an A, but it also feels great when one of the guys I'm working with does the same,” Male said. “The program has given me the opportunity to watch dozens of students find their direction in life, and allowed me to lend a helping hand. It’s very rewarding.” 

Male has 40 college credits under his belt, maintains a 3.90 grade point average, and is a member of Rio Salado College’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

“I don’t know if there is anything more satisfying than feeling like you’re on the right path,” Male said. “It’s funny to think that it’s all led through a horse barn!” 

As if on cue, barn manager and ranch resident Alex Bingham, 23, pauses in the corridor outside the classroom while returning a horse called Felicia to her stall.

Felicia peers through an open window and gazes in at the students as if to say, “You know this is a barn, right?”

Bingham laughs.

“Horses keep you honest,” he said. “Animals can read people. That’s why I feel at home in the barn.”

For Bingham, Welcome Home Ranch has been an addiction recovery program and a pathway to the next chapter in his life. Clearly finding his true passion – horses -- Bingham has a farrier job lined up after he completes the program, and hopes to one day own an equine facility.

Male will graduate from the John Volken Academy in August, and will transfer to Arizona State University in the fall, with plans to pursue a degree in engineering.

“I’m pretty interested in biological and genetic engineering,” Male said. “I find it fascinating that the most complex and efficient material on the planet is biological and that it all stems from the genetic code of a single cell.”

Those comments show just how much of a transformation Male has undergone.

“I came to the ranch with half a commitment, zero direction, and a desire to live in my own drug-induced reality,” Male said. “Now I’m a man of commitment. I have direction and purpose in life, and a huge desire to live in everyone else's reality for once. This opportunity has been the spark that lit the engine that will fuel me for the rest of my life.”

This story can also be found in the March 21, 2015 edition of the Tempe Republic. By Mira Radovich, Communications Coordinator at Rio Salado College. 

Photos by Rio Salado Designer Bayi Smith.
Photo 1 – Barn manager and Rio Salado student Alex Bingham tends horses 
Photo 2 –
Rio Salado student Ryan Male supervises a classroom session
Photo 3 –
Rio Salado student Cameron Lewis in the horse barn classroom 
Photo 4 – Rio Salado student Alex Bingham pets a horse called Luna 

Share Your Story
We encourage you to share your student success stories.  Learn more in this RioNews blog.  #RioGrad

Monday, March 30, 2015

Get Paid While You Learn to Teach

image of a school teacher smiling at camera.  Students working in background.

Rio Salado Teacher Program Offers Fast-Track Re-Career Option. Includes Paid Employment Opportunities for Candidates with a Bachelor’s Degree. 

Have you considered a teaching career but hesitated because you’re not in a position to give up a paycheck to go back to school? Rio Salado’s Teacher-In-Residence (TIR) intern program was designed with your needs in mind.

The program provides a convenient and cost-effective way for students and working professionals with a bachelor’s degree to transition into a K-12 teaching career. Through paid employment opportunities in the classroom, students can earn an income while completing the certification coursework. The program can be completed in two years.

TIR candidates are paired with a partnering Arizona school district, to work full-time and receive the same salary and benefits of fully-certified classroom teachers. The average beginning salary for teachers is nearly $32,000.

The opportunities for post-program employment are also in favor of Rio Salado TIR program completers. Arizona school districts actively seek Rio Salado TIR candidates specifically because the program requires two years of classroom training, provides intensive mentoring and meets their instruction quality standards.

Rio Salado’s TIR programs are approved by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE).

“The need for teachers in Arizona is greater than ever,” said Director of Community Partnerships and Programs Kim Tobey. “Our state has had an ongoing shortage of science, math, special education and kindergarten teachers—especially in rural communities.”

The need has been so great that 938 teaching positions were filled by substitute teachers during the 2013-14 school year, according to the Arizona Department of Education.

“Although substitute teachers meet an immediate need, TIR candidates benefit from full-time employment, while receiving consistent and strong instruction that may not always be afforded to substitute teachers,” said Tobey. 

There’s a greater shortage looming. Approximately 23%, or 26,000 educators, will be eligible for retirement by June 2018.

A 2015 report by the ADE’s Educator Retention and Recruitment Task Force cites that, “Arizona will not be able to ensure economic prosperity for its citizens and create the workforce of tomorrow,” if it cannot fill these vacancies.

“We also have a 6.6 percent unemployment rate, about one percent above the national average,” said Tobey. “With this program, we can help shrink that gap by putting people to work right away.”

Image of teacher writing on chalk board.  Text: Make a Difference.  Become a Teacher.  Learn more about Rio Salado College's Teacher Education Programs.

If you have a passion for teaching and want to learn more about Rio Salado’s TIR program, visit this Teacher Education web page  or call 480-517-8140 to speak to a program Outreach Specialist.

Developing Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking is an essential skill necessary to student success. However, critical thinking is an ability that is learned and continuously refined as you acquire new information.

It is important to learn how to develop your critical thinking skills to be able to problem-solve, develop original ideas, question assumptions, and evaluate decisions, among other critical competencies.

Critical thinking involves the process of how you think versus what you think about. Additionally, critical thinking fosters personal and intellectual growth by helping us identify the weaknesses in our own thinking and encourages the acceptance of innovative thoughts and, even opposing beliefs to our own, if supported with credible evidence.

This YouTube video illustrates how to develop critical thinking skills and why they are important. 

Contributed by Rio Salado Counselor Elena Matus McDonald on behalf of Rio Salado's Counseling Services, helping students with their personal, educational and career goals.

Coffee Talk with 91.5 KJZZ

Images of KJZZ coffee cups

KJZZ 91.5 FM is giving away free cups of coffee from 7-8 a.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout April. 

The Morning Edition Coffee Break outreach campaign gets KJZZ reporters and staff out into the community to chat with listeners and get feedback on the station’s morning drive time program.

Get your free coffee at one of the following Morning Edition Coffee Break locations:
  • April 1: Cartel Coffee Lab - University & Ash, Tempe
  • April 2: Fair Trade Cafe - 1st Ave. & Portland, Phoenix
  • April 8: Cartel Coffee Lab - 1st St. & Washington, Phoenix
  • April 9: Hillside Spot Cafe - 48th St. & Warner, Phoenix
  • April 15: Press Coffee - Scottsdale Rd. & Greenway, Scottsdale
  • April 16: Press Coffee - Rio Salado Pkwy, Tempe
  • April 22: Jewel’s Bakery & Cafe on 40th St. & Thomas, Phoenix
  • April 23: Phoenix Public Market on Central, Phoenix

image of KJZZ member at coffee shop

Visit KJZZ's Facebook page for the latest updates and photos.

KJZZ is a community service of Rio Salado College. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Personalized Learning Trumps All

March/April 2015 cover of eCampus News

The March/April 2015 edition of @ecampusnews features a column called, College Presidents Predict New Institutional Models, which includes perspectives from Rio Salado President Dr. Chris Bustamante. 

You can read Dr. Bustamante's article about the subject, Personalized Learning Trumps All on page 10 of the online issue.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Featured Library Resource: History Magazine

Image of History Magazine banner

History Magazine features stories of exploration, invention, innovation and conflict. It also examines the development of government, medicine, technology, trade, the arts, and the art of war.

If you consider history to be a dull and dry topic, give History Magazine a chance. The stories reveal little known facts about historical figures and events that shine a light on our shared humanity and connect us in a meaningful way to the past.

Check it out!

News courtesy of the Rio Salado Library.

GULP to Improve Memory

Image a fit young man gulping water from a bottle.  Text: Get it. Use it. Link it. Picture it. GULP is highlighted.

College students often mention that it is difficult to retain the academic content taught in their courses due to the significant amount of information assigned by their instructors. Frequently, students reference their ineffective memorization skills as one of their weaknesses and challenges during studying and exams.

One technique offered by Pepperdine University called GULP, offers a structured way to assist students with improving their memorization abilities.

G stands for “Get It” and involves applying active listening, awareness, and attention to the present.

U signifies “Use It” and pertains to utilizing the information you just learned by replicating the material through, writing, singing, acting, and/or sheer repetition.

L applies to “Link It” and refers to connecting the information with something currently familiar to you at the present time such as a person, place, or thing.

P pertains to “Picture It” and requires you to visualize the concept coming alive and incorporate the five senses, touch, smell, hear, sight, and taste.

The GULP technique allows you to begin to personalize the information you are learning and create an engaging learning environment with material that may seem uninteresting at first.

Students often quote a link to dull or unexciting coursework with the inability to focus and retain the information they are required to learn. GULP introduces a fun strategy for college students to try to enhance their memorization abilities.

Written by Rio Salado Counselor Elena Matus McDonald on behalf of Rio Salado's Counseling Services, helping students with their personal, educational and career goals. Reference: Pepperdine University. (2015)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Teacher-In-Residence Orientation April 1

Image of a student.  Text: I want to be a teacher (one day, crossed out), now.

Rio Salado’s Teacher-In-Residence intern program provides a convenient and cost-effective way for students and working professionals with a bachelor’s degree to transition into and launch a teaching career—with paid employment opportunities in the classroom— so students can apply what they learn and earn an income while they complete their certification coursework.

Are you ready to follow the calling?

Join us for our Teacher-In-Residence Orientation April 1 
Rio Salado College Conference Center
2323 West 14th Street
Tempe, AZ 85281
6-7 p.m.

RSVP: Click here to let us know you will attend! 

You will have a chance to learn about:
  • Rio Salado Teacher-In-Residence Program requirements
  • Program expectations and support
  • Registration process
  • Answers to any other related questions you may have

We look forward to meeting you there! 

Eager to learn more now? Visit our web page and give us a ring at 480-517-8140.

ASU Transfer Webinar March 30

Banner that reads: Guarenteed admission to ASU Degree Programs.  Start here, Go There!

Learn about transferring to Arizona State University in our 30-minute webinar.

You’ll get information about ASU, including admission requirements, pathway programs (MAPP), and important dates and deadlines for fall and spring.

photo of Ally Archer

You can ask ASU Transfer Specialist Ally Archer questions during the webinar through live chat. 

Here is the link to the webinar: ow.ly/KLbZf

To view the presentation you’ll need to create a login. We recommend making it firstnamelastname.

Webinar: Transferring from Rio Salado to ASU
Monday, March 30, 2015
12 – 12:30 p.m.

News courtesy of Rio Salado Academic Advisement

Rio Announces Choice for New Mascot

Image of Dr. Bustamante making announcement, balloons falling from cieling.

After weeks of reviewing entries, tallying votes and deliberation, Rio Salado College has decided on a new mascot concept.

“We are the Rio Waves,” announced Rio Salado President Chris Bustamante at today’s college wide meeting for staff at the Tempe headquarters.

While the actual Rio Wave mascot and name are still in development, the inspiration is clear.

The Rio Waves will help us tell our story by representing the water of the Salt River and how the college cuts through barriers and navigates around obstacles in order to find innovative ways to serve non-traditional students,” said Bustamante.

The process has drawn quite a bit of community engagement.

The college invited the public to submit mascot concepts last January, which motivated 134 people to submit more than 200 ideas, including things like the Salty Dogs, Sun Storks, Rio Salt Shakers, Rip Tides and Beach Buoys.

After sorting through the most popular entries, the college Mascot Committee chose seven finalists: Beaver, Mouse, Raven, River Rat, Roadrunner, Surfer and Wave/Splash.

The college called on the public to choose the final three. More than 1,300 people responded and narrowed the search to: Raven, Roadrunner and Wave/Splash.

The college Mascot Committee and Executive Team decided the Rio Waves was the clear choice.

 Bustamante receives top secret briefcase with final decision.

The committee was comprised of faculty, staff and students. Their primary objective: to find a mascot that relates to Rio Salado’s unique mission, flexible learning format, innovative practices and college culture.

Artists from the college’s Institutional Advancement creative services unit are already drafting design concepts for a Rio Wave mascot. Once complete, the college will call on the public once again to help name the mascot.

One thing is likely certain, the mascot will be responsible for leading event attendees in the wave!

Rio Salado employees practicing the wave at college wide meeting today.

This clever video highlights Rio Salado staff predictions and President Chris Bustamante's declaration of what the mascot will be.

You can find additional photos from our college wide meeting and mascot announcement on Facebook.

Monday, March 23, 2015

What’s your story? We invite you to share it.

Montage of image of 2014 Rio Salado grads.

Each year, we feature some of our best and brightest graduates in commencement ceremonies, social media channels, videos, publications, advertisements and news stories we share with local media. Why? Because they’re engaging, informative and inspirational.

We invite Rio Salado 2015 grads to share their stories.

Interested? Then submit a photo, a 250-500 word narrative that highlights your life and educational journey-- and how people can benefit from hearing your story. We would also like for you to include your favorite quote.

We will review entries and call on the top 10 students who have shared the most compelling stories to take part in a photo shoot and interview on Friday, April 10. Students will be scheduled sometime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

You can submit your entries via email to riosaladonews@gmail.com.  Please include Rio Salado 2015 Grad Story in headline.

Who better to talk about the student experience than you?

Your stories provide invaluable advice, guidance and inspiration for other students-- and our staff here at Rio Salado, who can apply what they learn from you to help other students succeed.

We appreciate your participation and look forward to reading your submissions.


Featured Library Database: Britannica Image Quest

Need an image for your project or presentation?  

Check out Britannica Image Quest

It contains fast access to millions of images that can be used for educational purposes.

News courtesy of the Rio Salado Library.

Rio Testing Centers Serve as CLEP Leader

Photo of Rio Salado Testing Center in Tempe, in front reception is Rio Salado Testing Center staff, Angelina Valenica.
The College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP) helps you receive college credits for what you already know through exams that assess subject matter proficiency-- for a fraction of the cost of a college course.

Rio Salado’s nine Testing Centers offer all 33 CLEP exams. Learn more about ‪#‎CLEP‬ and Rio Salado Testing Centers in this online profile by the College Board, which has recognized Rio Salado since 2002 as a Top 100 CLEP® testing center.

Pictured above is Angie Valencia from our Tempe Testing Center who is ready to help you get started.

Here's another blog post to provide you with additional details about Rio Salado's Testing Centers and how we can be of service to you.

Free Workshops for Veterans in April

An armed forces member shakes hands with a civilan.
Take advantage of these Free workshops at the East Valley Veterans Education Center this April.

RSVP Required. Reserve Your Seat Now.

Financial Literacy Workshop
Wednesday, April 8, 5:30 p.m. 
Presented by Five Rings Financial to help you set financial goals, manage credit and debt, protect yourself against identify theft and find ways to save and invest while managing risk. Group and individual Q&A sessions will follow presentation. Complementary literature and workbooks provided free of charge.

Employable Skills & Readiness Workshop

Thursday, April 16, 4 p.m. 
Presented by the Maricopa Workforce Connection to provide strategies on how to improve your resume, enhance your interviewing and networking skills and capitalize on your military experience as part of the civilian workforce.

VA OEF/OIF/OND Veteran Informational Presentation
Wednesday, April 22, 5 p.m. 
Presented by VA patient advocates, who will provide information about VA benefits, vocational rehabilitation, filing disability claims, medical care and more. They will also help you register with the VA Medical Center and set appointments with counselors. Complementary literature provided free of charge

Where: EVVEC, 3320 S. Price Road, Tempe, AZ 85282

More Information: 480-384-9850 / www.evvec.org

Classes available free of charge to veterans and their families.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Summer & Fall Registration Begins Monday

Image of search engine.  Text: I'm ready to search for classes...

New students can begin registering for summer and fall 2015 classes on Monday, March 23. 

Explore our online catalog now to see which of our 600+ online classes work with your schedule.  www.riosalado.edu/Schedule

Not enrolled yet, get started at startatrio.com

Read & Learn More Effectively

graphic of SQ3R strategy outline, which is presented in full text at http://studygs.net/texred2.htm

Inundated with facts and having difficulty with retention?  You're not alone. The SQ3R reading method is designed to help you read and learn more effectively.

Visit Study Guides and Strategies and Mind Tools for details on how to apply and make SQ3R strategies work for you.

Shared by Rio Salado's Counseling Services, helping students with their personal, educational and career goals.

Free ASU VUB Classes for Veterans @ EVVEC

image of a U.lS. army soldiere carrying books.

The Veterans Upward Bound Project (VUB) at Arizona State University (ASU) is a federally funded educational program designed to motivate and assist veterans as they pursue higher education.

Among the benefits available through this program are free, in-person classes to help strengthen academic skills-- with one-on-one instruction and tutoring-- and help with college planning, financial literacy, career guidance and more.
Take advantage of free in-person classes that will help you with the fundamentals of English, computers and mathematics at the East Valley Veterans Education Center in Tempe, 2-4 p.m.

3rd Friday of each Month
English and Computers
English and Computers
Workshops.  Topics Vary.

Classes are non-graded with open-entry start dates.

Here is a listing of all ASU VUB classes available across the Valley:

Image of ASU VUB schedule.  For a text version, call PHONE: (480) 965-3944 or E-MAIL: VUB@ASU.EDU

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

EVVEC and RSC Southern Remain Closed 3/18

UPDATE: Due to the earlier situation in Mesa, the Rio Salado College Southern location and EVVEC will remain closed today, Wednesday, March 18.  

Keep your contact information updated in my.maricopa.edu – especially mobile devices and e-mail addresses – to benefit fully from the Maricopa Emergency Messaging System (MEMS) Alert system.  Manage your alerts through Rave here.

Alert: RSC Locations in Lockdown

UPDATE: Due to the ongoing situation in Mesa, the Rio Salado College Southern location and EVVEC will be closed for the remainder of the day, Wednesday, March 18.  

Rio Salado College Southern and the East Valley Veterans Education Center are in lockdown due to a police situation in Mesa. Please avoid the area until further notice.

Keep your contact information updated in my.maricopa.edu – especially mobile devices and e-mail addresses – in order to fully utilize the Maricopa Emergency Messaging System (MEMS) Alert system. Manage your alerts through Rave here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SIS Down March 19, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

abstract composite of IT tech images of code and hands using a keyboard.

We apologize for the short notice but there will be a Student Information System (SIS) outage on Thursday, March 19 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., to facilitate upgrades.

This will affect all student self-service options including adding/dropping classes, resetting passwords and more-- so please plan accordingly.

Other support systems such as email, Canvas, and RioLearn will be available for use.

Please also take note of our scheduled RioLearn outage on Friday, March 20 and Spring Break college closures. Visit this blog page for additional details. 

We appreciate your patience during this necessary maintenance. 

3/26 Future Leaders Town Hall: Transportation

photo of students engaging in past Future Leaders discussions

Take part in a lively discussion about transportation in Arizona during the next Future Leaders Town Hall at the Rio Salado Conference Center March 26.

Join other student leaders from across our state to address problems and potential solutions to Arizona's ever-changing transportation needs.

Keynote Speaker:  

Deron Lozano 
Senior Transit Planner & Project Manager

Future Leaders Town Hall #8:
Transportation & Arizona
Friday, March 27
3:30-5:30 p.m.
Conference Center @ Rio
2323 W. 14th St.
Tempe, AZ 85281

Discussions will also be hosted at satellite locations throughout the state. Check this event page for the latest listings and updates:

We encourage you to take advantage of this unique opportunity to engage with university, college and high school students. Your solutions can change Arizona-- for the better.

This event is made possible by Arizona Town Hall and the Maricopa Community Colleges.

Rio Salado Mascot Announced March 24

Rio's new mascot will be announced March 24!  Images of other Maricopa Colleges Mascots surrounding Chancellor Dr. Rufus Glasper

T-minus one week until we announce what the Rio Salado mascot will be! 

Survey participants and our mascot committee have narrowed down the search to three finalists: a Roadrunner, Raven or a Wave

Rio Salado President Chris Bustamante will make the official announcement during a college-wide meeting on Tuesday, March 24 at 10:15 a.m.

We will share the verdict immediately afterward via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, RioNews and this web page.

We look forward to sharing this exciting news with you!