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Technology in kindergarten? Of course, says innovative Pacific graduate

May 21, 2020

Ben Cogswell ’04 is a kindergarten teacher with deep knowledge and understanding of how to utilize technology in a classroom. However, in early March, when Alisal Union School District in Salinas went to a learning from home model, uncertainty creeped into his mind. 

“I temporarily freaked out,” he said. “I thought ‘how am I going to teach these kids remotely?’” 

Two months later, he was in the  New York Times as a model education innovator. 

“It is a meandering road to where I am,” he said. “But this is a very rewarding profession and it feels amazing to watch the children succeed.” 

After earning his degree at Pacific, the now father of four taught sixth grade and spent four years as an academic technology coach in Salinas. He worked with teachers to incorporate technology into everyday lessons and strategies. 

“I am a big proponent of balance,” Cogswell said. “I look to blend traditional learning with technology.” But would his teaching style translate to kindergarten? Some colleagues and parents told him “that’s too young” two years ago when he opted to return to the classroom – with much younger students. 

“I was determined to make it work,” he said. 

Cogswell uses astronaut and space themes and his students are called “Kinder Rockets.” The class has its own Facebook page, YouTube channel and Twitter handle ( @kindrockets), with 608 followers. 

With help from his wife Jenny and children Sunny (seventh grade), Russell (fourth), Tucker (first) and Jamison (preschool), Cogswell and his distance learning students start their day with virtual videos, songs and lessons. He will pull out a robot puppet for a prop or dress like a NASA astronaut. In the evening, students sign on for story time with Mr. Cogswell—often accompanied by Jenny on ukulele. 

Cogswell is not quite sure how all of this landed him in the New York Times—twice. 

“Someone gave my name to a reporter who writes on technology, and she sent me an email,” Cogswell said. “We ended up talking for about 45 minutes. I actually have been in the Times twice since the pandemic started. This is certainly not something I expected.” 

A native of Colorado, Cogswell said he is appreciative of the education professors he had at Pacific. “I learned so much from them that stays with me to this day,” he said. “I had a great college experience.”

Cogswell has created hundreds of video lessons and other information helpful to teachers, parents and students. Everything on his web sites is available for others to use, he said. View his work at www.kindrockets.org and www.coachben.org.

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