Teaching with Technology

PBS Recognizes 52 Teachers as Digital Innovators


Traci Espeland, PBS Innovator from Alaska.

PBS is recognizing 52 teachers across the country for their integration of digital media in the classroom in the network’s fifth annual PBS Digital Innovators Program.  

The program recognizes classroom change makers — educators who skillfully approach education with a bold and fresh perspective and who integrate digital media and resource into their classrooms in a way that sparks a love of learning in their students. Among those selected were teachers who are using 3D printers with their students to create prosthetic limbs; a technology coach whose classroom is a “STEM Bus”; and co-teachers who use technology to bring their students together in one class, even though they’re in physical classrooms that are miles apart.

A panel of respected judges selected the 52 PBS Digital Innovators from across the country, representing each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

In partnership with PBS member stations nationwide, the PBS Digital Innovators serve as education partners, deepening the connection between educator communities and their local PBS stations, while leveraging PBS’ curriculum-aligned, classroom-ready resources to support learning goals, according to a news release.

PBS Digital Innovators also participate in ongoing professional development; share their ideas on PBS platforms; have access to exclusive resources from PBS LearningMedia; receive a free PBS Teacherline professional development course; and are invited to special events, including the 2017 PBS Digital Summit. This year’s summit in San Antonio, TX, takes place directly before the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference.

“We were struck by the creativity and passion of this year’s applicants,” said Sara Schapiro, vice president of education at PBS, in a statement. “The 2017 PBS Digital Innovators are a passionate group of educators who are committed to changing the way students learn through technology and digital media. Education is at the core of PBS’ mission and as a key partner with parents and educators across America, we’re excited for the opportunity to learn from and work with these classroom change makers as they partner with PBS member stations to share content that truly engages and empowers students in every community.”

Below is a list of the 2017 PBS Digital Innovators and their local PBS stations. Their profiles and photographs can be found on this site.

  • Amanda Walker, Northport, AL (Alabama Public Television)
  • Traci Espeland, Anchorage, AK (Alaska Public Media)
  • Danielle Brown, Sierra Vista, AZ (Arizona PBS)
  • Farrah McEntire, Star City, AR (AETN)
  • Alejandro Picazo, San Diego, CA (KPBS San Diego)
  • Bretta Loeffler, Thornton, CO (Rocky Mountain PBS)
  • Furahi Achebe, West Haven, CT (CPTV Hartford)
  • Katherine Mulrooney, Newark, DE (WHYY)
  • Paul Podraza, Kissimmee, FL (WUCF-TV)
  • Lynn Early, Roswell, GA (Georgia Public Broadcasting)
  • Leah Aiwohi, Kapaa, HI (PBS Hawaii)
  • Paige Somoza, Boise, ID (Idaho Public Television)
  • Jamila Leonard, Chicago, IL (WTTW)
  • Josie McKay, Carmel, IN (WFYI – Indianapolis)
  • Cathi (Cate) Miller, Des Moines, IA (IPTV)
  • Elizabeth Burns, Newton, KS (KPTS)
  • Ashley Judd, McKee, KY (KET)
  • Desiree Alexander, Shreveport, LA (LPB KLTS)
  • Benjamin Brigham, Manchester, ME (MPBN)
  • Tamala Stuckey, Laurel, MD (Maryland Public Television)
  • Rich Lehrer, Ipswich, MA (WGBH)
  • Melissa Kempski, Lake Orion, MI (DPTV)
  • Nathan Lund, Glenwood, MN (Lakeland Public Television)
  • Heather Montgomery, Ocean Springs, MS (Mississippi Public Broadcasting)
  • Andrea  Woods, Saint Louis, MO (KETC PBS Nine Network)
  • Amy Leffler, Billings, MT (MontanaPBS)
  • Allison Pontious, Elkhorn, NE (NET)
  • Mike Lang, North Las Vegas, NV (Vegas PBS)
  • Mary Goldthwaite-Gagne, Peterborough, NH (NHPTV)
  • Matthew Farber, Branchburg, NJ (NJVT)
  • Rachel Thomas and Steven Lamb, Albuquerque, NM (KNME)
  • Elisabeth Bostwick, Horseheads, NY (WSKG-TV)
  • Alexis Moore, Greensboro, NC (UNC-TV)
  • Johanna Ibarra, Fargo, ND (Prairie Public Broadcasting)
  • Amy Kochensparger, Eaton, OH (PBS ThinkTV)
  • Brian Jared Morgan, Tulsa, OK (OETA)
  • Shawn Patrick Higgins, Portland, OR (OBP)
  • Steven  Hartnett, North Huntingdon, PA (WQED Pittsburgh)
  • Jennifer Graham, Richmond, RI (Rhode Island PBS)
  • Ashley   Fort, Batesburg, SC (SCETV)
  • Matt Christensen, Brandon, SD (South Dakota Public Broadcasting)
  • Justin Barton, Bristol, TN (East Tennessee PBS)
  • Krissy Venosdale, Missouri City, TX (Houston Public Media)
  • Sara Layton, Santa Clara, UT( KUED)
  • Sharon Davison, South Hero, VT (Vermont PBS)
  • Joe Beasley, Henrico, VA (WCVE/WHTJ)
  • Melissa Wrenchey, Kirkland, WA (KCTS)
  • Carmen Jenkins, Frazier, Washington, DC (WHUT/WETA)
  • Sandra Wiseman, Wheeling, WV (WVPB)
  • David Olson, Madison, WI (WPT)
  • Abigail Hurley, Sheridan, WY (Wyoming PBS)

More than 100,000 digital resources, including lesson plans, worksheets, video content and mare, are available through PBS LearningMedia for pre-K–12 classrooms. Teachers can access this content at the LearningMedia website.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].