Ben Owens

After earning degrees in physics and mechanical engineering, respectively, from North Georgia University and Georgia Tech, Ben spent a 20-year engineering career in manufacturing and R&D locations across the country. 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.


Ben 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.

Ben 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!

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Adam Haigler

Adam is an educator and leader of diverse people in a wide variety of alternative settings. His experience teaching and mentoring spans ten countries over ten years, including his current role as a STEM teacher at Tri-County Early College in Murphy, North Carolina (a Global Schools Alliance member).


Adam tries to make his passion his work, which has led him to some very unique professional settings as an outdoor school instructor, environmental educator, overseas leader, and a community educator. He co-founded a program with his wife called The Pioneer Project, which offered a Gap Year experience where teens could learn sustainable living techniques, outdoor leadership, and traditional craft. When he entered the classroom, he immediately leveraged his skillset as an experiential educator to design engaging, rigorous Project-Based Learning units, which catalyzed student growth similarly to international and outdoor environs. He is an expert in open, mastery-based PBL, with a gift to help people and organizations develop unique programs and bring bold visions to reality.

Adam wrote about his educational experiences in a book that will be published in late 2018: Open Up, Education! How Open Way Learning Can Transform Our Schools (co-authored with Ben). He was also a contributing author for The Gap Year Advantage, a book touting the benefits of high school graduates taking time off before college.


Adam holds a Bachelors of Arts in Education and Bachelors of Science in Biology from The Evergreen State College, one of the most progressive colleges in the United States. He serves as a Teacher-Powered Schools Ambassador and has been recognized as an Outstanding Educator by the NC Science Teachers’ Association. He lives in Brasstown, NC with his wife and two children.

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© 2018 by Open Way PBL, LLC

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