One of the ways Clayton State University makes dreams real for its students is through experiential learning. And one of the College of Business’ outstanding faculty members who enhances the learning environment through experiential learning is Assistant Professor of Management Dr. Leon Prieto.
Prieto’s current MBA students will not be surprised to hear that, on Oct. 16, 2014, he was honored by the Academy of Educational Leadership with its Outstanding Educator Award for Creative and Innovative Teaching. The award was based on the enhanced learning environment and experiential learning he creates for his students, notably the opportunity his MBA students had this past summer to collaborate with two international CEOs in his International Business and Global Logistics class.
Experiential learning accomplishes a great deal in furthering students’ education, notes Prieto, who says he is following a precept of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the classroom.
“My hero, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once wrote that the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. I always strive to take his heed and ensure that my students are well prepared for a global, multicultural, and technologically-advancing society. I believe that this can all be accomplished via experiential learning,” he says. “My goal as an educator is to bridge the gap between theory and practice and by inviting executives, community leaders and other professionals to collaborate with my students, and by giving them real world assignments that develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities, will no doubt prepare them to reach their full potential and make their dreams become real.”
During the Summer 2014 Semester, Prieto’s MBA students had the opportunity to work with two international CEOs; Rami Abu Ghazaleh of the successful Saudi Arabian fast food restaurant, ALBAIK, and Dar Vasseghi, of Yoshinoya America, a quick service restaurant originally founded in Japan in 1899. All parties involved agree it was a case of dreams made real.
“Working with Rami Abu Ghazaleh, CEO of ALBAIK, was such a great experience for me!” says Angela Harrison. “Mr. Ghazaleh was very accommodating and willing to assist us with whatever we needed to successfully complete our SWOT and PEST analysis project in spite of his very busy schedule. He not only supplied us with the necessary information and tools needed for the project, but also offered some advice on life that will stick with me forever. Working with him on this project was an experience that I will never forget.”
“I became so impressed with the level of commitment, professionalism and knowledge Angela had for this project," says Ghazaleh."Her knowledge about ALBAIK impressed me, and the support she had from Professor Leon Prieto was remarkable. She is a future leader that I know Clayton State will be very proud of. I wish her and her classmates the best of luck always."
In analyzing Yoshinoya, I was able to work directly with the CEO of Yoshinoya America, Dar Vasseghi. He did not hesitate to take time out of his busy schedule to offer his input, which helped our group to get a better understanding of the company as a whole,” says Brandi Luongo. “It was an honor to be able to work with Mr. Vasseghi and it is an experience I will carry with me as I progress through my remaining time in the MBA program and into my career.”
"I applaud Brandi and her team for reaching out,” comments Vasseghi. “Closing the gap between academics and the corporate world early on is just smart.”
Prieto’s teaching abilities and award are also noted by the dean of the College of Business, Dr. Avinandan Mukherjee.
"The Outstanding Educator Award for Creative and Innovative Teaching presented to Dr. Prieto by the Academy of Educational Leadership reaffirms the recognition that one of the primary institutional priorities of Clayton State University's College of Business is exceptional teaching inside and outside of the classroom setting,” he says. “Dr. Prieto is a strong proponent of engaged learning and brings the world of business to the classroom through outstanding guest speakers, case studies and company projects."
Prieto received the Outstanding Educator Award for Creative and Innovative Teaching at the Allied Academies Fall International Program, held in Las Vegas, Nev.