Friday, December 28, 2018

#RioSaladoCollege40th Photo Album Additions

Collage of images from Rio Salado college wide retreat featuring staff dressed in Star Trek uniforms, a group photo of attendees at 40th party and group photo of Halloween contest participants

We’re closing out our 40th anniversary album with photos from 2018! 

Included are photos from our annual college-wide retreat on Oct. 26, our Monster Splash Halloween contest and 40th anniversary party on Nov. 29. Please feel free to download, tag and share.

Check out the photo album now

Thanks for the memories, Rio Waves! We look forward to creating more memories with you in 2019!

Here’s to Celebrating 40 Years as an Innovative Leader in Higher Education.

Learn more about our 40th anniversary celebration.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

#RioSaladoCollege40th Retrospective Documentary

Vintage 90s billboard that reads: Where's Rio  Right where you want us!  At work, in your car, at home, on computer

We're wrapping up 2018 and our 40th anniversary celebration with this retrospective video, which chronicles our college’s history.

Since 1978, Rio Salado College has had the privilege of serving more than 665,000 students and has awarded nearly 100,500 degrees and certificates.

We are honored to be a part of this legacy and to be of service to you. We look forward to helping you on your next educational journey in 2019 and the years to come.

Learn more about our 40th anniversary celebration.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Happy Holidays Rio Waves! Closure Reminders

Holiday greeting card featuring a gift box and text: Holiday Greetings.  The real joy of the holiday season is the opportunity to say thank you and to wish you a very happy and bright new year!   Kate Smith Interim President, Rio Salado College

Happy Holidays!  A friendly reminder, the Maricopa Community Colleges and most Rio Salado services will be closed Mon., Dec. 24, 2018 – Tue., Jan. 1, 2019 for the winter break. We will resume regular business hours Wed., Jan. 2.

Here's a look at services available to you during the break: 




Our 24/7 services such as Technology Helpdesk, RioLearn, Ask a Librarian and will remain available.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

#RioSaladoCollege40th Salute to Laura Manna

Pictured here is Manna taking a photo with our Interim President Kate Smith and new Vice President of Student Affairs Greg Pereira and participating in a student panel during our New Faculty Orientation held at South Mountain Community College on Aug 10.

Here’s to Rio Salado students like Laura Manna, who are challenging themselves and exploring new opportunities! 

Manna, who is a Computer Technology program major, stepped out of her comfort zone to enter Maricopa Community Colleges’ 2017-18 Creative Writing contest, which would lead her to winning a second-place essay award-- and a new-found sense of confidence.

Manna represents some of the top, local students we've come to rely upon to provide us with feedback and serve as college ambassadors.

Laura presenting her essay
Pictured above is Manna taking a photo with our Interim President Kate Smith and new Vice President of Student Affairs Greg Pereira and participating in a student panel during our New Faculty Orientation held at South Mountain Community College on Aug 10. The student panel shared emotional and motivating stories about their engagement with their faculty and advisors who have helped them reach their educational goals.

Thank you, Laura, for being a part of our Rio Salado family. We are proud of your efforts and accomplishments.

Learn about Manna’s journey into becoming a writer and read her award-winning essay, “Rain, Dirt and Sky” in this inspirational RioNews student spotlight.

#RioSaladoCollege40th Tribute #GEDGrads

We continue our 40th anniversary tribute to students with one of the most inspirational speeches of the year-- presented by High School Equivalency (HSE) graduation student speaker Maida Dugalic at the May 2018 HSE graduation ceremony in Phoenix.  Watch it now on YouTube.

Maida represented more than 200 HSE grads, who completed Rio Salado’s GED® test prep classes and passed the GED® test in 2018. Learn more about Maida in this RioNews blog.

Here’s to all Rio Salado HSE grads! We hope you will continue your educational journey to higher learning.

Rio Salado College serves as the principal provider of GED® test preparation programs for the Maricopa Community Colleges and the largest provider of adult basic education in the state of Arizona. 

Learn more about Rio Salado’s GED® test prep program by calling 480-517-8110 or

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Dual Student Finds Purpose in Service of Others

Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Rio Salado dual enrollment student Lexi Von Hatten, a senior at Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale is experiencing that first hand.

This ABC 15 story by reporter Nohelani Graf sheds light on the volunteer work Von Hatten is doing to help special needs students—and the discoveries she’s made along the way.

Von Hatten, who hopes to be a teacher one day, is also a member of Educators Rising Arizona, which helps mentor young people on a path to becoming teachers— and challenged her and fellow members to find a community project that would make an impact.

As her project, Von Hatten chose to help Mountain Ridge create a more dynamic “sensory room,” a place where kids living with disabilities can find a calm place to focus and learn when things get a little too stressful in the classroom. "My greater hope is this will cause a ripple effect," said Von Hatten.

Photo of a typical sensory room with swings and padded colorful flooring and kids at play with an instructor
Sensory room sample 

“We are so proud of Lexi’s efforts,” said Rio Salado’s Director of Field and Student Teaching Experiences Kim Tobey. “Through our dual enrollment program and Educator’s Rising, Lexi is getting a head start in her teaching career—and already making a difference in the classroom.”

Visit these web pages for more information about our Dual Enrollment and Teacher Education programs:

Change the World with Sustainable Food

Image of a young women in a farm field holding produce, smiling at camera.  Text: Be the you the world needs now.

Become the "You," the world needs now with Rio Salado's Sustainable Food Systems program! 

Our program is designed for people who have a passion for food, fair trade and sustainable practices that protect our environment. You can earn a certificate or degree-- and gain real experience with industry experts.

Reach out to get started

With our hybrid program, you’ll work hands-on with food, urban agriculture, small-scale farming and cooking— and work online at a time that's convenient with your lifestyle.

Our Sustainable Food Systems program is designed for students who work in the food service industry as well as newcomers who do not have a culinary background. 

Watch this video to hear what graduates have to say about the convenience, flexibility and affordability of this program.

Ready to get started now for spring? Enroll at Classes start most Mondays! 

Learn more about the sustainable foods movement in America—and our Café at Rio in this RioNews feature

Most of the Café @ Rio produce is raised locally or at our on-site garden.


Rio Salado College is committed to its Sustainability Pledge. The college has incorporated sustainability as a core value and has developed several programs and practices that embrace the sociocultural, environmental and economic facets of sustainability. 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.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Let's Get Nano: The Giant Growth of a Tiny Industry

Photo of Rio Salado grad, Caitlan McGough in a lab coat, standing in front of a large poster mapping out Rio Salado's Nanotech program's mission, outcomes and the like.
Rio Salado Nanotechnology graduate Caitlin McGough. Photo by Mark Moran                    

Rio Salado student Caitlin McGough didn't plan to be a scientist-- but then serendipity opened its doors.

“I needed another class to satisfy my financial aid, and the nanotech class seemed really interesting. I took it and fell in love with it,” she said when she signed up for online classes at Rio Salado College in Tempe, Ariz.

“Nanotechnology embodies everything that has to do with engineering, chemistry, biology and science, and [then] puts them together with technology to form something that’s new and different.” 

Rio Salado College Faculty Chair for STEM
Initiatives Rick Vaughn at Mesa AZSciTech
Festival. Photo by Mark Moran

A nanometer is one-billionth of one meter, 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. “We're talking atoms and molecules here,” says Dr. Rick Vaughn, the faculty chair for STEM initiatives at Rio Salado. “These are the building blocks of all matter.” 

When scientists work with them, they have to use so-called clean rooms to guarantee the nanoparticles aren’t contaminated or even destroyed during experiments.

“To put it in perspective, even a follicle of hair or a skin cell falling off across your sample would be kind of like the Eiffel Tower falling across the landscape of Paris,” Vaughn says.

“It has the potential to completely destroy it.” 

Scientists are using these tiny particles in, well, almost anything. 

Nanoparticles are used in the commercial production of everything from hydrophobic (water-repelling) clothing and digital storage, to the production of puncture resistant tires, cosmetics, and even a paint that will “heal itself” if scratched.

3D rendering of a cell with a mechanical 
claw attached to it.
“It’s not just that the particles are smaller, it’s that things are going to behave differently at that scale,” says Vaughn. “That’s what makes them so incredibly powerful.”

Carbon nanofibers, for example, are used to make ultra light and strong bicycle frames. The carbon atoms arrange themselves hexagonally at the nanoscale. They’re rolled into nanotubes, which are crafted into a bicycle frame that weighs about two pounds and is geometrically lighter and stronger than steel or aluminum.

The explosion of commercial applications for nanotechnology has created a huge demand for jobs, with no real end in sight.

“Technology innovation, development, and manufacturing is a very diverse area of expertise and a very diverse job market,” says Barbara C. Lopez, a research engineer at the University of New Mexico (UNM). It’s so dynamic, Lopez says, that it’s hard to put a number on just how many jobs will be created in the next five years.

Text: Large Global Nanotech Market Seen.  Europe and Asia are expected to continue generating more revenue from nanotechnoloby-enabled products than the United States in 2018, experts say.  Those regions are projected to account for more than two-thirds of global revenue that year, while the United States is expected to represent about a fifth.  Projected Global Revenue from Nanotechnology-Enabled Products, by Region, I $Trillions, 2018. Alt text: Graph showing projected total of 3/69 trillion, divided by country: Europe: $1.33, Asia: 1.3, U.S.: .79, Rest of the World: 1.3.   Source: Lux Research, Inc. December 2015.

Revenue growth, though, is a different story. It’s pretty easy to put a finger on that, although it may be harder to get your mind around. One small segment of the industry known as BioMEMS “is estimated to double in revenue from $2.8 billion now to $6.1 billion in 2023,” Lopez says. Nanotech will provide “areas of tremendous growth and opportunity for today’s students,” she says.

Matthias Pleil, also a researcher at UNM, says that the job growth rate in the MEMS field alone is between 10-15 percent per year, which he suspects is indicative of the nanotechnology industry as a whole.

The jobs are not limited to high-end scientists, either. In fact, UNM’s Lopez says the people who can operate and fix the machines that are designed by Ph.D.s are the ones who are most in demand in the job market.

But therein lies the problem, according to Lopez. The United States has a shortage of skilled technicians, she says.

“There is a roadblock to growth in nano and microtechnology," says Lopez. "It’s that we do not have enough skilled technicians to fill the need to grow the industry.”

Pleil agrees that there is simply a sheer lack of people.

For example, “A large company in New York hired 400 engineers and about 1,000 technicians a few years ago,” Pleil says. The company, Global Foundaries, had a hard time finding people.

The pay is pretty good for someone with a certificate or associate degree. According to an online job search site, a technician in the nanotechnology field averages $57,000 a year in Arizona. That degree also puts future technicians in a good place to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the nanotech field, which opens doors to higher paying jobs.

McGough has just completed her coursework at Rio Salado College and is in the process of distributing her resume. More likely than not, her search won’t last too long.

“Technology is at the forefront of everything,” McGough said. “No matter what, I will always have a secure position in the marketplace.”

Snapshot from MCTV video, featuring Caitlan on camera at ASU lab
Watch this episode of MCTV’s MaricopaNow featuring Rio Salado’s Nanotechnology program.

By Rio Salado College Sr. Project Manager and Brand Journalist Mark Moran.

At Rio Salado College, Nano Knows No Limits.  
See where it takes you!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Holiday Hours Begin Monday, Dec. 21!

Rio mascot Splash dressed in a Santa hat and holly bow tie.  Text: Happy Holidays

A friendly reminder, Rio Waves. Our holiday hours begin next week. Please plan accordingly.

Adjusted hours and closures, Dec. 17-21:

The Maricopa Community Colleges and most Rio Salado services will be closed Mon., Dec. 24, 2018 – Tue., Jan. 1, 2019 for the winter break. We will resume regular business hours Wed., Jan. 2.

Here's a look at services available to you during the break: 




Our 24/7 services such as Technology Helpdesk, RioLearn, Ask a Librarian and will remain available.

Math Emporium + Inspired Students = Success!

snapshot from video featuring Rio Salado's Faculty Chair of Mathematics John Jensen working with student Shawnda Howerton. They're at a computer giving each other a high-five

Learn about the new approach we’re taking with tutoring at our Math Emporium in Phoenix by watching this Maricopa Now feature by Maricopa Community Colleges Television reporter Dee Anne Kinkade.

The Math Emporium is a free service available to all Maricopa Community Colleges students—offering customized learning solutions for you— at any stage of your educational journey. 

Pictured here are Rio Salado's Faculty Chair of Mathematics John Jensen working with Shawnda Howerton, a Rio Salado adult re-entry student who is getting re-acquainted with math and having some fun along the way.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

#RioSaladoCollege40th Tribute to Students!

Collage of photos featuring graduates at the 2018 commencement ceremony.

Today we take pause to pay tribute to the driving force behind our 40-year history-- students! 

We applaud your dedication and perseverance. It has been a great honor to be of service to you through the years.

We hope this 40th anniversary commemorative video tribute to the #RioGrad Class of 2018 inspires you to continue your educational journey-- and to encourage others to join you!

Since 1978, Rio Salado College has had the privilege of serving more than 665,000 students and has awarded nearly 100,500 degrees and certificates.
“As graduates you truly know what it means to succeed. You have experienced the effort that success requires…. Success is not a task, which anyone ever completes. Success is an attitude and it is a process. It is an indication that you have made a choice to make the most of yourself and to develop your potential to the fullest.” -- Maricopa Community Colleges Governing Board Vice President Linda Thor.

Look for other 2018 #ThrowbackThursdaymemories later this month. Share your photos, stories and memories via email to or social media using #RioSaladoCollege40th.

Learn more about our 40th anniversary at

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

#FinalsWeek Research? Ask a Librarian 24/7!

Image of a huge library, with Ask a Librarian banner above it.

Overwhelmed by a research project? Need a librarian NOW to help you with #FinalsWeek? Ask a Librarian was made for you!

Go ahead, Ask a Librarian now. It's free!

Get help 24/7 with:

  • Starting your research 
  • Searching smarter and faster 
  • Finding articles, books, and media 
  • Citing sources and more! 
The librarians are quick to reply-- and available when you need them most.

Ask a Librarian is designed to help you succeed!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Getting through Finals Week, #YouGotThis!

Photo of a young female student carrying books for nursing, smiling at camera.  Rio mascot in graduation gown is nearby.  Text: Good Luck

This is the time of year when many Rio Waves are preparing for finals-- and graduation.  We wish you the very best as you wrap up the semester and this part of your educational journey.

Here are a few student success tips to keep in mind before you take your final exams:
  • Be prepared
  • Study for exams ahead of time
  • Seek answers to what you don’t know from your instructor or a tutor
  • Test your knowledge with friends or family members

Here are 5 Ways to Stay Calm during Exams Week from the Maricopa Community Colleges.

Check out our student success tips videos for additional advice.

Graduating? Celebrate your accomplishments with us during our May 2018 commencement ceremony. Details coming soon at

A Career with Teeth

Holly Harper, Director of Rio Salado College’s Dental Hygienist program (Photo by Mark Moran)

Holly Harper was poolside at her new apartment building not long after moving from Oklahoma to California when the payphone rang. It was 1989.

Harper and her husband were so new to town that they didn’t have a phone in their apartment yet. So, she searched the newspaper classified ads for a job as a dental hygienist and made calls from the payphone by the pool.

“We didn’t have cell phones then,” Harper says chuckling. “I had just moved there and I needed a job, so I would look at advertisements in the newspaper and make calls on the payphone and tell them when I’d be by that phone if they wanted to call me.”

For Harper, the call came quickly. Within two weeks of packing up a U-Haul and making the cross-country move, she landed a job.

“I do remember getting the call. It was three days a week. A really great job.” Fast forward almost 20 years and while the technology has changed, the demand for dental hygienists has not. It’s still extremely high.

“Hygienists are very employable,” says Harper who now runs the dental hygienist program at Rio Salado College, which will mark its 20th anniversary next year. The school offers an accelerated 16-month, $25,000 program allowing students to enter the workplace upon graduation.

And entering the workplace they are. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is growing at a rate 20 percent higher than the national average for related jobs. Among the biggest reasons for the popularity of dental hygiene is the pay.

The bureau says that the average salary for a dental hygienist working 40 hours per week is about $74,000 annually, or just over $36 an hour. Another big draw is the ability to create a flexible work schedule.

“According to our last survey, our graduates are working as much as they want to,” Harper says. The demand is so high, she says, that hygienists can in large part determine their own schedules. Some want to work full time, others opt for a few days a week.

Dental Hygiene student gives advice

Dental hygiene programs are popular both for young people with a few semesters of college basics under their belt, or people making a career change.

“We like to clean in my family,’ says 37-year old student Kathy Garner. “That’s why I’m here. I actually think cleaning is pretty fun. I’m a little OCD. We hygienists are a different breed.”

Kathy Garner (Photo - Mark Moran)
Garner is a different breed indeed. She competed in the 2003 North American Championships of snowboarding, satisfying her adventurous side, she says. She worked in corporate banking until it became too stressful. 

Most recently, she has been designing trophy belt buckles for rodeo champions but wanted a backup plan. And along came dental hygiene.

“Flexibility is super important to me. If I only want to work three days a week, I can work three days a week and support myself."

Garner estimates she spends about 70 hours a week on the program by the time she figures in classes, homework and commuting time. “Your family has to be fully prepared,” she said.

Photo of dental professionals performing a service

U.S News & World Report ranks dental hygienist as the number one healthcare support job, above other popular choices such as Medical Assistant, Medical Secretary, and Massage Therapist. The publication bases its rankings on a variety of factors, including salary, employment rate, stress level, and work-life balance.

It is important to note that while the pay is relatively good for dental hygienists, upward mobility is considered low. There isn’t a lot of headroom for most hygienists beyond making slightly more money in a different dental office.

But for 44-year old Jessica Money, a single mother of six, the promise of a good salary in a quick turnaround time and a high degree of flexibility is worth the investment … and the intensity of a 16-month training course.

“You definitely marry the program,” says Money whose choice to attend hygienist school wasn’t so much a midlife job change, but a necessity.

“I had been a stay-at-home mom before my divorce and to go back into the medical background I had wasn’t enough to live on," says Money. "It would basically just be paying babysitters. So I decided to make a change. I needed to do something to take care of my kids.”

In the near future, Money says she would like to be able to save enough to buy her own house and become financially independent. She chose the 16-month program to get her coursework done quickly and get into the workforce.

Harper, the Rio Salado program manager, says that’s the typical person she sees in her program.

“We do have quite a few single moms, also some who have their bachelor’s for whom this is a second career and they want to get in here and get it done,” she said.

Garner’s competitor bib from
2003 North American Championships
of snowboarding (Photo- Kathy Garner)
This particular program has graduated about 400 students in its nearly two decades, many of whom work in dentist offices in the Phoenix metro area. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand is not going to drop any time soon.

Former snowboarder Kathy Garner is counting on that to be the case. “Anybody can do this if they put in the time and effort,” Garner said. 

By Rio Salado College Sr. Project Manager and Brand Journalist Mark Moran 

Alt text: Snapshot from Rio Salado Dental program page.  Image of dental professionals at work.  Text: Be Limitless.  Explore new opportunities in dental health.  Call 480-517-8580.  Contact an Advisor.  Rio Salado College logo.

Learn more about Rio Salado’s Dental programs at

Monday, December 10, 2018

Winter Break Hours & Closures

Banner with winter holly.  Text: Happy Holidays.  The college will have limited service hours during the winter break, Dec. 22, 2018-Jan. 1, 2019

Happy Holidays, Rio Waves! The Maricopa Community Colleges and most Rio Salado services will be closed Mon., Dec. 24, 2018 – Tue., Jan. 1, 2019 for the winter break.

We will resume regular business hours Wed., Jan. 2.

Please also take note of these adjusted hours and closures the week before the break, Dec. 17-21:

Services Available During the Break:




Our 24/7 services such as Technology Helpdesk, RioLearn, Ask a Librarian and will remain available.

Rio mascot Splash dressed in a Santa hat and holly bow tie.  Text: Happy Holidays

We hope you enjoy a happy and safe holiday season-- and a prosperous New Year!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Rio VPSA Shares Vision for Power of Education

Snapshot of ASU Now web article featuring a photo of Greg Pereira smiling at camera.  Text: Teachers College doctoral grad has a vision for the power of education.

Our new Vice President of Student Affairs Greg Pereira will receive his doctorate from Arizona State University's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College in leadership and innovation this December.

Learn about his educational journey-- and vision for the power of education to improve the lives of others in this ASU Now interview.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

40th Anniversary Throwback Thursday 2018

Our 40th anniversary look back at Rio Salado College’s history is coming to an end—and we’re heading back to the future! Today, we begin revisiting 2018

photo of human 40

At the beginning of 2018 we launched our year-long 40th anniversary celebration and hosted a series of events including a gathering to form a giant human 40. Enjoy this behind-the-scenes video. We also worked to fulfill 40 acts of service. Check out these related stories to learn about our volunteer efforts. 

Group photo of dozens of 2017 dual enrollment graduates

2018 was a record-breaking year for Rio Salado dual enrollment graduates! Of the 200 students who took part in the 2018 commencement ceremony on May 9 at Comerica Theatre, were 92 dual enrollment students (See related story).

More than 50 of the dual enrollment participants were from Xavier College Prep-- the first high school Rio Salado partnered with in 1987 to launch its dual enrollment program, which helps nearly 7,000 Maricopa County students at 43 schools earn college and high school credits at the same time. 

photo of students, staff and program partner volunteers at clinic

In June, the college’s dental hygiene students, alumni and staff members partnered with the Arizona Dental Foundation and community volunteers to host a free clinic for kids. A total of 690 dental procedures were provided to 124 children, totaling $42,724.64 of care in one day!

Look for other 2018 memories later this month.

Share your photos, stories and memories via email to or social media using the hashtag #RioSaladoCollege40th.

Visit our 40th anniversary website to learn more about our year-long celebration

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

ParalegalEDU Picks Rio as Top Paralegal Program

Ribbon/Seal from ParalegalEDU.  Text: BEST Pre-Degree Certificate 2018 has recognized Rio Salado College for offering the Top Entry-Level, Pre-Degree Paralegal Certificate Program in Arizona for 2018-19! 

Photo of Emily Klein Alice
The team interviewed our Lead Instructor Emily Klein Alice, who is a J.D.; Professor at Law, to share insights about what makes our program unique. Check out the interview now:

“Being an online platform that offers flexible start dates, Rio draws a diverse student body at various stages of their lives,” said Alice. “Our industry-specific curriculum accommodates any type of student regardless of their legal background or experience.”

Rio Salado’s Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal program was recognized for the following:
  • Helps Facilitate National Certification: National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) Certified Paralegal (CP) – Rio Salado aligns coursework with NALA certification competencies, and is considering the option of allowing incoming students to apply NALA certification toward credits for the AAS 
  • Provides Valuable Field Experience in the Form of an Internship 
  • Offers the Flexibility of an Online Option 
  • Provides Outstanding Career Assistance and Student Support Services logo
ParalegalEDU reviewed more than 250 regionally and nationally accredited community colleges, career and technical training institutes, state schools, private universities and proprietary schools offering basic, pre-degree certificates in paralegal studies and related fields.

Snapshot from Rio Salado's Paralegal web page.  Image of a woman smiling at camera.  Text: Fast-Track Your Career in Law.  Explore the paralegal program.  Rio Salado College logo

Rio Salado offers a certificate and associate degree in paralegal studies. Online classes start most Mondays. To learn more visit

Honoring George H. W. Bush

Photo of George Bush smiling.  Text: “We are a nation  of communities…  a brilliant diversity  spread like stars,  like a thousand  points of light  in a broad and  peaceful sky.”   – George H. W. Bush

We take pause to join you and the nation in saying goodbye to our 41st President George H. W. Bush-- and honoring his service to this country.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

My.Maricopa SIS Outage Dec 7-10

.  Image of a little drone at work.  Text: System Maintenance

Reminder! The Maricopa Community Colleges Student Information System (SIS) will not be available this weekend for scheduled maintenance.

SIS will not be available during these times:
  • Fri., Dec. 7, 6 a.m. – Mon., Dec 10, 6 a.m. 
This means you will not be able to register or pay for classes, request official or unofficial transcripts, check grades and financial aid status or access to-do list items and message center notices. Please plan accordingly.

Faculty and staff will not have the ability to complete assignments or enter grades.

Maricopa email and Canvas/RioLearn portals will not be impacted by these changes and will remain available to students and faculty.

Get the latest details by visiting this web page.

We appreciate your patience as we update our systems to improve our service to you.

Thank you.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Rio Alum Awarded for Classroom Excellence

Educator Preparation completer Robert Upham (second from right) 

Bob Upham was ready to retire from a 30-year career as a civil engineer but wasn’t sure what he wanted to do for the next 15 years of his life.

Bob Upham
“I couldn’t sit in a rocking chair on my front porch at the age of 52. I would go absolutely insane,” said Upham who worked for the Arizona Department of Transportation and the cities of Chandler and Phoenix.

“I was the guy who would stand in front of people at public meetings telling them why ripping up the street in front of their business for the fourteenth time was such a good thing,” he said.

But as uncomfortable as that may sound, Upham realized that it was during those public education meetings that he developed a passion for explaining things and ultimately, for teaching.

“Throughout that whole process, I found a love for education,” he said. So Upham decided to become a teacher and that’s when he learned about the Robert Noyce scholarship program through Rio Salado College’s Teacher Education program in Tempe, AZ (See related RioNews story).

Through the National Science Foundation, the scholarship provided a stipend to cover tuition, books and other needs directly related to the teaching program. "It's effective, and is making a difference," said Kimberly Tobey, Rio Salado’s Director of Field and Student Teaching Experiences.

National Science Foundation logo

The Noyce program is designed to train and certify K-12 teachers in the fields of Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math, or STEM. It requires them to commit to teaching in high-needs school districts, which typically include those that have a lack of teachers in certain subject areas, such as STEM.  Upham got a job as a math teacher in the Kyrene school district outside of Phoenix.

STEM candidates are in high demand across the country and the National Science Foundation utilizes the grant opportunity for higher education to impact the critical teacher shortage. Upham says he probably would’ve become certified at his own expense even if he had not received the scholarship, but said that being part of the Rio program made it a much better experience than if he had gone it alone.
“I had a bunch of people around me [at Rio] that cared about my success,” Upham said. "I wasn’t just a student at a school. I was part of a program that supports and cares for their students. And that continued when I was teaching in the classroom.”
Upham has already fulfilled his two-year commitment to teaching in a high-needs area and could choose to go anywhere in the country now. But he says he has no plans to leave the Kyrene middle school classroom. “I like what I do. I like where I teach and I like my students.”

Upham presents progress report to Rio Salado faculty as new 
Noyce grad and teacher during summer 2016. Click to see video

His commitment has not gone unnoticed by school officials. Based on improved test scores in his classrooms, Upham has been recognized as one of the top educators in the Kyrene district.

Kim Tobey
Tobey says Upham’s decision to stay in Arizona is a plus for the Rio Salado post-baccalaureate program. She says the program to certify adults who already have a bachelor’s degree flies somewhat under the radar. 

“Most of the time in Arizona you don’t think about Rio Salado as having a post-baccalaureate certification program, even though we’ve had it for 18 years,” says Tobey.

People like Upham can get certified in a high needs area like STEM “and not have to go into debt to do it,” says Tobey. “What Bob’s award shows is the quality of Rio’s Educator Preparation Program, and more importantly its program completers, are impacting local classrooms, preparing a strong STEM workforce, and meeting a nationwide shortage."

"I'm preparing the future generation of engineers," says Upham. "What could be better?"

By Rio Salado College Sr. Project Manager and Brand Journalist Mark Moran

Learn more about Rio Salado’s Teacher Education programs at