Meet Alison Mickelson

“Alison brings so much enthusiasm to her work. She really ‘gets’ Gio, and loves him (and that means everything to us parents!).” -Elise I, Prisma Parent

Emily Veno
April 24, 2024

Prisma is the world’s most engaging virtual school that prepares kids for the ever-changing world of the future. Our team of educators have a diverse background of experience on the cutting edge of teaching and learning, whether they’ve worked in brick and mortar schools or dynamic online environments. In our Meet the Team blog series, you’ll get to read more about the amazing educators behind Prisma.

Alison Mickelson joined Prisma in Fall 2023 as a Math Coach and facilitator for Co-Lab Workshops. 

Alison brings so much enthusiasm to her work. She really ‘gets’ Gio, and loves him (and that means everything to us parents!).” -Elise I, Prisma Parent

Where are you based? 

I live in a suburb west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life.

Tell us a little bit about your background in education and how it led you to join Prisma. 

I began my first “teaching” position when I was eight and my little sister was four. I had just learned multiplication and couldn’t wait to teach it to her! Over the next many years, I continued to enjoy teaching in different capacities: as a registered nurse in a NICU, homeschooling my oldest son, coaching at a CrossFit gym, and tutoring at a math learning center. 

Over five years tutoring, I noticed many struggling kids believed they weren’t born with the ability to do math, and would never learn. I researched how to cultivate a growth mindset in these students, and found a blog post by Emily Veno. It not only gave the information I was looking for, but also introduced me to Prisma! I was delighted to discover a school that believes all kids can learn with effort and persistence. I was excited by Prisma’s innovative, project-based curriculum that allows kids freedom to explore their interests, while challenging them to expand their thinking. I knew this was the future of education and wanted to be part of it.

How do you approach working with learners who have struggled with math in the past, or who don’t consider themselves “math people”? 

I feel compassion for struggling learners because I was one! Math challenged me in high school and college. I didn’t realize until much later that math is a skill you can learn, like anything else. I am living proof you CAN be good at math if you want to be. 

I take a three-part approach to help struggling learners: I believe we need to 1) address the mindset that may be holding kids back, 2) find and fill in knowledge gaps, and 3) make math relevant to kids. I work on cultivating a math mindset every time I meet with kids, our math team uses intervention workshops to address knowledge gaps, and our interactive Numbers Labs allow learners to solve real-world problems together. I emphasize that making mistakes is an integral part of the learning journey, so Numbers Lab is a safe space for kids to learn and grow.


You’ve been designing a new type of real-world math workshops for Prisma next year. Can you tell us more about those? 

We are excited to offer new project-based math workshops addressing the age-old question: “When am I ever going to use this in real life?” These “real world” projects will both address grade-level standards and require learners to think critically, creatively, and flexibly. For example, one project could have learners creating and managing a financial plan for a startup: determining daily costs, investing, and financial forecasting. In the next project, they could design scale models for human habitats on Mars. 

We are excited to make math highly relevant and relatable for our learners. I hope kids will discover math is not only useful in solving problems, but also adds depth and meaning to their lives. 

If you could pick one skill that all kids should master to prepare for the world of the future, what would it be and why? 

The ability to think creatively, critically, and flexibly. Technology will always be changing and improving. As it does, it will be important to be able to find creative solutions to complex problems, and adapt to changing situations. Prisma is instilling this in almost every workshop and project we offer. I am excited to be a part of helping this generation of learners prepare to tackle some of the greatest challenges in our world today.

What do you like to learn about, or what is something new you learned recently? 

I love learning and hope to spend the rest of my life as a student. One of the best things about working in education is we are always learning. 

I was recently inspired by my 7th-grade math learners to take a few more college math courses. I am now two-thirds of the way through multivariable calculus! It’s been challenging at times, but that helps me empathize with my learners when they are struggling. I hope when they see me working hard, staying positive, and believing in myself, they might be inspired to do the same.

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