Published November 5, 2019
George Zion, an alumnus from the Department of Learning and Instruction, was recognized by the College of Engineering Technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) for being a knowledgeable teacher and mentor. Zion was honored with the 2018-2019 Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching for his ability to build bridges for students making the transition from high school to college.
“I’ve been teaching college freshmen for the past 10 years,” said Zion. “It made me realize that we expect a huge paradigm shift from high school students to the college environment after only six months.” He noticed that the transition needs to be improved for new students, so he started teaching first-year courses at the same time his son, Sean, was graduating from high school and beginning his college career. Zion saw teaching through his son’s eyes, which would have a positive impact on his own growth as a teacher.
He notes that students bring different strengths and weaknesses into the classroom based on the information they receive, experiences they have and opportunities they are given. “There is a much wider world out there for students and many more opportunities, such as academic programs that simply did not exist 20 to 30 years ago,” said Zion. “We expect someone who is 17 or 18 years old coming into college as freshmen to decide their major and then, they’re exposed to all these new ideas and their eyes widen.”
Zion wants to be the professor his son will always admire. He has had many accomplishments as an engineer, faculty member, researcher and a member of the RIT Academic Senate, but one of his proudest moments came when Eisenhart awardees were announced. Sitting among the group, one of the senators from the RIT College of Health Sciences and Technology shared with Zion an email that said "Sean’s dad won the Eisenhart!"