Improvement Coach

About Ben


K-12 Education
School Turnaround
Change Initiatives
Professional Development
Adult Learning Theory

Ben Owens is an Improvement Coach at Ed Direction Cicero Group’s K-12 Public Education practicePrior to his work in educationhe spent 20 years in the private sector as an engineer. That formative experience allowed him to see first-hand the significant need to improve our approaches to K-12 education, especially in the STEM arena. Recognizing that students needed to learn the critical skills necessary to thrive in a global, innovation economy ultimately led him to leave the corporate world, get his MAT from Marshall University, and become a public-school teacher in rural Appalachia. 

Ben then spent 11 years at Tri-County Early College High School. A teacher powered, “wall-to-wall” Project-Based Learning school, where students worked on school-wide, cross-curricular, and cross-grade level projects that connected them with real-world mentors in a competency-based framework. Seeing how this approach helped lead at risk students to high student success rates helped him make the decision to leave this wonderful school and start Open Way Learning, a nonprofit that helps other educators around the world create similar cultural conditions to design, implement, and sustain localized innovations that better meet the needs of students in their own learning communities.  

Ben is the co-author of “Open Up, Education!;” the recipient of the 2017 Bridging the Gap Distinguished Teacher in STEM Education; the 2016 North Carolina Center for Science, Mathematics, & Technology Outstanding Educator Award; a member of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council; a 2014 Hope Street Group Skilling America Distinguished Fellow; an Open Organization Ambassador with; and was a “Community TA” for the MIT Teaching Systems Lab.  

Ben earned bachelor’s degrees in physics and mechanical engineering, respectively, from North Georgia University and Georgia Tech. He then went on to earn a Master’s iSecondary Education and Teaching from Marshall University. He lives with his wife in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina.  

Career Highlights

  • Founder of Open Way Learning 
  • PBL Works – National Faculty 
  • 11 Year Classroom Teacher Leader 
  • 20 Year Private Career as an Engineer 
  • Marshall University, MAT – Secondary Education 
  • Georgia Tech, BS – Mechanical Engineering 
  • University of North Georgia, BS – Physics 

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