Last year, Benjamin Colas worked as a kindergarten teacher at Alfred A. Benesch School on Quincy Avenue in Cleveland. But starting this fall, he’ll be teaching part-time and serving as a real-time teacher coach in the classroom, giving his peers immediate feedback and pre- and post-class consultations.

Colas hasn’t been content with the status quo during his so-far short career in education. The former finance student joined Teach for America after realizing the corporate world wasn’t a good fit for him.

And he’s already pitched — and won funding for — an idea for a kindergarten readiness kit that uses common items parents can find at home and shows them how to use those items to teach necessary skills. For example, parents could have children use shaving cream to trace letters or Skittles to learn sorting. He hopes to have 750 of those kits to offer parents this summer.

Tell me about the idea behind the KinderKits and why you think they’re necessary.

So, last school year, 25 of my 26 kids were considered not ready for kindergarten, according to Ohio’s kindergarten readiness test that every kid takes. The big thing, though, that I discovered throughout the year, and even throughout my first two years: the parents care. They want to help their kids. There’s just a huge gap in terms of them not knowing what their kids should know coming in. What drew you to education? I think I realized I wanted to do something where my full-time job was directly related to investing in people, as opposed to doing, say, corporate finance and being involved in something in the evenings. FIVE THINGSWhat did he want to be when he grew up? President

Role model: His dad

Favorite book: 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' by Dale Carnegie

Favorite Cleveland spots: Barrio, Punch Bowl Social, West Side Market, Metroparks

Favorite Cleveland team: He's hopped on the Cleveland bandwagon for everything.

What are some of your larger goals for your career? I feel like, as a teacher, my voice is limited. So I feel like I’m probably not going to be in the classroom long-term. As far as possibilities down the road, though, I would love to stay in education in some capacity.WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING: What makes Benjamin stand out?“He sees an area that needs to improve and comes up with a solution, rather than complaining about it.”
— Benesch principal Erin Murphy. Murphy just took over as principal in June, but was already impressed with how involved and engaged Colas had been over the summer.

Source: Mansfield SunDown RunDown alum Ben Colas named to CrainsCleveland "20 in their 20s" making a difference in Northeast Ohio URL: