Fort Mill Times

Gold Hill Middle teacher named Digital Innovator

Amanda Kruysman
Amanda Kruysman

A passion to teach children from a real world perspective has earned a Fort Mill teacher national recognition.

Amanda Kruysman teaches English to eighth-graders at Gold Hill Middle School. Kruysman has been named a 2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator. The award recognizes educational professionals who incorporate digital media into their classrooms. She found out about the program on Twitter.

Kruysman’s methods reach into the online world to give students a fresh take on learning.

“With accessibility becoming less an issue, teachers are finding new ways to use technology to transform their teaching,” she said.

In other words, she bypasses the traditional teaching routes by identifying new and creative methods to present material to students.

“That also means I teach history (and) critical thinking; it’s not just grammar and writing instruction anymore,” Kruysman said.

Only 100 teachers are awarded the honor annually and they all receives a year’s worth of professional development from PBS LearningMedia.

Thirty teachers, including Kruysman, are also selected to be Lead Digital Innovators. She will take an all-expenses-paid trip to this year’s PBS LearningMedia Digital Summit in Philadelphia, as well as the International Society for Technology in Education conference.

Kruysman says she works hard to help her students avoid saying one dreaded phrase.

“I hate having to answer the question ‘Why are we learning this?’” she said.

She said by not assigning work that doesn’t clearly illustrate its part of the larger picture in life, she can eliminate the need for students to wonder why they are learning the material.

“From everything that I’ve worked with and all experience I’ve had using technology and giving them real world based knowledge tends to ingrain them deeper,” she said.

She has many digital tools in her toolbox, including Google Apps for Education, which encourage collaboration between classrooms, as well as laptops for research, and even iPads for digital media creation. Many of her lessons are project based. Kruysman says that method gives students more of a challenge, because the answer can’t be quickly found on Google. For all her efforts, Kruysman said she’s seeing the results. Kruysman said she’s setting her students up to be lifelong learners.

“Learning is not obligatory,” she said. “The more comfortable you are the easier it will be for when you get older.”

Learn more:

To learn more about PBS LearningMedia, go to View Amanda Kruysman’s application video on