My name is Amanda Grutza, and I believe that every kid has the capacity to learn anything, as long as you have the patience to teach them. And by anything, I truly mean anything. From complex industry-level software and machines that even adults with advanced degrees may find challenging, through to adapting new technologies as they emerge. Kids have this magical power to invent, create, and explore when you meet them where they are, and with a little trust and scaffolding, they have the potential to deeply change the trajectory of not only their own lives, but the lives of those in their community, and the world around them. I got into education by accident, a computer science enthusiast who ended up falling in love with teaching during her first afterschool residency. I’ve never viewed myself as a traditional classroom teacher, but instead as an advocate for children. Growing up in the largest public school system in the world, (NYC-DOE), it was easy to see how learners who did not fit a traditional mold could fall through the cracks. Our current educational models are in dire need of reform. Too often, learners are reduced to mere test-takers, memorizing information that they will soon forget. This system stifles creativity and independent thought, crushing the very spirit that makes us human. But I believe that we are on the cusp of an educational revolution. We can design schools that are centered around the learner, with a focus on mastery-based learning, relevant projects, and individualized instruction. We can meet our students where they are, instead of forcing them to conform to a one-size-fits-all approach. As educators and advocates, we are no longer required to adhere to these archaic systems that often push a narrative of a ‘school to office’, (or prison), pipeline. Our schools should be designed to be learner-centered, with an emphasis on mastery-based learning, relevant projects, and meeting our students where they are, instead of expecting these limitless individuals to fit molds set for them hundreds of years ago. It is time to treat children like the humans that they are. Curious, full of passion, excitement, and the capacity for highs and lows. When we teach our learners to, build up their agency and engage in healthy risk-taking, they will push themselves to achieve incredible things. This is how you create lifelong learners with the capacity to implement tangible and surmountable changes in the world around them.
"Every child needs at least one adult who is irrationally crazy about him or her."
- Urie Bronfenbrenner
Director of Innovation
Led development and implementation of cutting-edge programming and curriculum in computational thinking, digital literacy, and design education; provided professional development opportunities for staff; designed and maintained Innovation Lab; established community partnerships with industry leaders.
Curriculum Developer and Facilitator
Provided comprehensive STEM education to students from diverse backgrounds; integrated culturally responsive teaching strategies; taught critical thinking and problem-solving skills through engineering design method.
Lead Classroom Teacher
Facilitated student-centered learning experiences by designing and implementing engaging, real-world projects that integrated multiple subjects. I collaborated with colleagues to develop interdisciplinary curricula, fostered critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and assessed student progress through authentic performance tasks.
Professional Development Coordinator & Fab Lab/Makerspace Design
Consulted on makerspace creation for schools, nonprofits, and community centers; crafted tailored space, inventory, curriculum, and implementation based on client needs.
Professional Development Specialist
Created and facilitated professional development programs for K-12 and STEM teachers; focused on technology, CAD, and digital literacy; conducted workshops on Arduino microcontrollers.
Technology / STEM Consultant
Advised on community service and technology-based projects, including digital media, robotics, social media, and design thinking.
Investigations in Number, Data, and Space
Bridges in Mathematics
Read, Write, Inc!
Fountas & Pinell Assessment
Zones of Regulation