Thinking Outside the Box: Mr. Ben Mountz

For Mr. Ben Mountz, teaching is more than getting his students to ace their tests – it’s about encouraging them to think outside the box and be creative. Mountz started his career as an educator 15 years ago and has taught at Hanalani Schools for the last three years. Inspired by his parents who were also teachers, he’s taught a variety of subjects including earth science, robotics, physical science and technology.


Mountz has taken on physics, digital storytelling and robotics at Hanalani and appreciates the freedom to be creative with his curriculum. Most recently, Mountz has implemented a teaching curriculum designed by Apple called “Everyone Can Create.” To make it possible to run the program, Mountz arranged for his digital storytelling students to have access to iPads in the classroom. He’s also trained other teachers to use the curriculum in their own classrooms and helped students learn how to demonstrate their learning. “Whether it’s through video, music or visual arts, the students should express what they’ve learned and how to share it with the world,” says Mountz.
The “flipped classroom” method of teaching is often implemented in his classes. He provides video lectures for students to watch at home and homework is done in the classroom. “That way there’s more hands-on interaction from teachers at school,” says Mountz.
One of his favorite memories at Hanalani Schools is speaking at a STEM conference at the Hawaii Convention Center on behalf of Apple.  His senior physics students helped present an app to an audience, and Mountz was proud to see his students’ professionalism.  "It was really special for them, and it was a great experience."  
As a teacher, Mountz’s goal is to help students create evidence of their own learning through digital storytelling. “Everything is a story, so I want students to convey that message by using the tools we have,” he says. When his students graduate from high school, he hopes his students have the ability to think for themselves and think critically.
“I want my students to be able to ask the right questions. Often times in our lives we use what we call ‘black boxes,’ which means we know how something works, but we don’t know why. Like a car – we know to push the pedal and it moves, but we don’t know why. I want my kids to be able to look under the hood. Not just with physics, but every aspect in life,” says Mountz.