After earning degrees in physics and mechanical engineering, respectively, from North Georgia University and Georgia Tech, Ben Owens spent 20 years as an engineer. Doing so allowed him to see first-hand the significant need to improve our approaches to education, especially in the STEM arena, so that students have the skills needed to thrive in a global, innovation economy. That formative experience ultimately led him to leave the corporate world, get his MAT from Marshall University, and become a public school teacher in the rural mountains of Western North Carolina.

Owens taught physics and math at Tri-County Early College for 11 years, where he was able to not only refine his teaching craft, but also lead the school’s efforts to implement innovative systems for personalized, experiential learning; competency-based learning; and school-wide, cross-grade/cross-curricular project based learning. His unique teaching experience allowed him the opportunity to become a 2014 National Teacher Fellow for Hope Street Group, the 2016 North Carolina Science Technology & Mathematics Center’s 9-16 Outstanding Educator, the 2017 Bridging the Gap Distinguished Teacher in STEM Education, a Center for Teaching Quality Virtual Community Organizer, and a member of the Teacher Advisory Council for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Owens is now passionate about helping other educators, schools, districts and networks as they strive for and reach new levels of student-centered excellence. Let’s think outside the box (or at least question why the box may not have been big enough in the first place!) so that our schools look less like traditional classrooms from the 1900s and more like the crucibles of innovation we see in today’s gig economy!