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Rio Salado College Student Named English Learner of the Year

photo of ELAA student Maria Dolores Martinez Balvaneda. Text: Rio Student Honored for Lifelong Learning

Rio Salado College Student Named English Learner of the Year

Congratulations to Rio Salado College (RSC) student Maria Dolores Martinez Balvaneda, recipient of the Arizona Association of Lifelong Learning (AALL)’s ELAA Student of the Year award.

Martinez was honored on Sept. 18, 2021, at the AALL Annual Awards ceremony.

The award honors an ELAA student who has been an active student during the current calendar year, demonstrated persistence and leadership, and contributed to the field of lifelong learning.

Martinez attends ELAA (English Language Acquisition for Adults, also known as English as a Second Language) night classes at Rio Salado’s Downtown location. 

She was nominated for the award by her instructor, June Reid, who has taught at Rio Salado for eight years.

“Maria set her goals and aims high to successfully complete them,” Reid said. “She's the first one to participate in class projects and takes time to listen to and help her classmates. Maria always comes to class ready, does not miss any days and works ahead in her assignments.”

Reid also noted Martinez’s commitment to learning while juggling work and family responsibilities.

“Maria is a dedicated, hard-working single mother who wants to make a difference in the lives of her two small children,” Reid said. 

Originally from Mexico, Martinez works at a day-care center during the day while taking night classes at Rio Salado. 

“As a teacher, it is exciting to see Maria grow so much in the RSC Downtown ELAA program,” Reid said.  “She is an excellent student and an outstanding candidate for the ELAA Student of the Year Award.”

Martinez has already earned her GED diploma and she continues to strive daily to meet her career, educational and parenting goals.

“Today, Maria is demonstrating continued leadership by encouraging class discussions and leading class activities,” Reid said. “She is interested in pursuing a degree as an elementary teacher and after that continue her education to become a police officer.”

Rio Salado’s ELAA classes allow students the flexibility to learn in person or virtually through live-online classes. Classes are offered at multiple locations across Maricopa County. Find more information here.

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