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About Us

Co-Designing Innovative School Cultures

Culture shifts don't happen just by applying a patchwork of buzzword initiatives. They happen when schools attend to the essential work of creating an authentic culture of innovation. This means that your mission and vision are alive - lived out everyday through the actions of teachers, students and administrators and other stakeholders.


Our unique approach leverages existing skills & talent to enable an “Open Source" framework for innovation, so your school can create a culture where stakeholders lead the transformation to localized, crowdsourced innovation in their own learning community.

By The Numbers

Since our founding in 2018


Schools Served


Teachers Supported


Students Impacted


In Pro-Bono Services

Meet The Team

A passionate team of education stakeholders willing to disrupt the status quo…

Ben Owens

Ben Owens

Co-Founder & Chief Innovation Engineer

Laura Gaines

Laura Gaines

Administrative & Development Associate

Margaret Borden

Margaret Borden

OWL Fellow

Amanda Clapp

Amanda Clapp

OWL Fellow

Adam Haigler

Adam Haigler

Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer

Wes Davis

Wes Davis

Program Director

Ricky Singh

Ricky Singh

OWL Fellow

Jenny O'Meara

Jenny O'Meara

OWL Fellow

Ben Pendarvis

Ben Pendarvis

Outreach Director & Lead Coach

Jimmy McCue

Jimmy McCue

Instructional and Leadership Coach

Michelle Taylor

Michelle Taylor

OWL Fellow

Maureen Dwyer

Maureen Dwyer

OWL Fellow


Join the Team

Are you inspired by our mission and want to become a part of the team?

Learn more about our Ambassadors and Fellowship Program below.

Board of Directors

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Aria Chernik

Founder & Director Open Source Pedagogy & Research Institute

Duke University

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Nathan Strenge

Senior Learning Designer

Fielding International

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Mary Jo Deck

Early Childhood Expert & Consultant


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Amy Junge

Director of Teacher-Powered Schools

Education Evolving

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Syna Sharma

Park Scholar and Teacher Candidate

NC State University

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Dominique Stone-Maddix

Director of Operations

Explore Schools

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Bryan Behrenshausen

Senior Open Source Program Manager


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OWL's Origins

The concept of Open Way Learning (OWL) emerged from a group of educators in a small school in western North Carolina, driven by the goal of creating a more learner-centered environment through collaboration with students and the local community. This process involved a significant redesign of the school's approach to education. The co-founders and staff of OWL witnessed a transformation that led to the adoption of Project-Based Learning across the school, enabling students to engage in extensive, school-wide projects. In addition to this, the implementation of Advisory, Competency-Based Education, and a Portrait of a Graduate framework contributed to notable outcomes. The school culture was further enhanced by initiatives such as student-led conferences, just-in-time learning labs, and flexible seating arrangements, which collectively garnered international attention. The innovations at the school were initially shared through a blog, which led to the co-founders being invited to write a book titled Open Up Education! How Open Way Learning Can Transform Schools. This book outlines the Theory of Change that has since guided OWL's efforts. Years later, OWL has contributed to enhancing the professional fulfillment of thousands of teachers and has introduced innovative teaching strategies to tens of thousands of students nationwide.

Theory of Change

We focus on the cultural ingredients below to create sustained innovation

& Vision

The school understands its "why" and "how," and is living them through the actions & outcomes one sees in every classroom everyday.

Collective Leadership

Everyone is empowered to grow their skill, talent, and leadership capacity by exercising autonomy, mastery, and purpose in the work they do.

Radical Collaboration

The default mode of every interaction and decision is collaborative - between students, peers, and stakeholders in the local community and beyond.


The school is an authentic learning organization, committed to collective efficacy through the open sharing, critique, and revision of ideas and resources.

The Process

The Human-Centered Design framework guides all of our work. From collectively creating a Portrait of a Graduate to designing learner-centered projects, Design Thinking is our vehicle to generate innovation.

Innovative Ethos

The school uses a continuous improvement mindset to design, implement, and refine strategies that better prepare students for the Future of Work.

Interested in Learning More?

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