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.
Carolyn Ruffin is a Math Learning Coach and Math Intervention Coordinator across Prisma Middle School and Prisma High School who started with Prisma in the 22-23 school year.
Where are you based?
I currently live in Norfolk, Virginia with my husband Will, our cat Chip, and our golden retriever Weller.
Tell us a little bit about your background in education prior to joining Prisma.
I haven’t always been a middle/high school educator! After studying psychology and French in college, I worked in training and professional development for a startup in Washington, D.C. I realized I loved helping people learn and grow, so I decided to get my Masters in Teaching from the University of Virginia with endorsements in special education, English Language Learning, and math. I taught special education and math for six years in traditional secondary public schools before joining Prisma!
What is your favorite part about your role at Prisma?
My favorite part about Prisma is the relationships with learners and other coaches. We hear so much these days about how and why relationships matter, but when I was teaching in traditional schools, relationships somehow always came second to test scores or certain admin-driven outcomes (to my great disappointment). At Prisma, I have the time to develop deep relationships with each of my learners. I love knowing about their lives, what cool projects they are working on, and about their dreams for the future.
What sets Prisma’s approach to math apart from traditional schools?
At Prisma, learners understand how math is useful and applicable to their lives. Instead of emphasizing “tricks” or test-taking strategies, learners dig into math in deeper and more meaningful ways. During a recent 1:1, a learner was all smiles as she told me how she can see how everything we’ve been doing in math connects. It was those patterns and discoveries that were motivating her – not a grade or a looming test. Prisma encourages and supports that same discovery for every math learner!
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?
Collaboration! Our world is becoming more and more connected, and the more we can successfully collaborate, the more amazing things we will see! Regardless of where life takes you, being able and willing to solve a problem with a team, give and receive feedback, or even ask an expert for advice will be so important.
What do you like to learn about, or what is something new you learned recently?
I love mastering recipes in the kitchen. My ultimate goal is to be a baker who doesn’t have to measure ingredients or read a recipe, but just knows the right amounts by look and feel. I am currently perfecting my homemade bread (although if I am honest, the bread doesn’t have to be perfect to be devoured with some cheese or jam!!). I enjoy reading books about baking and cooking, and was recently very inspired by Stanley Tucci’s memoir Taste: My Life Through Food.
Middle School Curriculum Designer Lizzie uses her diverse experiences: studying Literature at Harvard, leading outdoor adventure expeditions, and teaching high school English, to help Prisma learners find their voices.
The pandemic has made homeschooling easier than ever before with a boom of online options from curriculum, to part-time programs, to full-time schools. But which is best for your family?
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Middle School Curriculum Designer Gabe, an expert in interdisciplinary learning with a PhD from the University of Michigan, explains how he designs themes that blend together STEM and literacy.
One of the most fun parts of being a homeschooling parent is creating fun learning experiences for your kiddos! In this post, we share our favorite at-home activities and online resources.
Our Head of Middle School Curriculum explains how her team blends core subjects and real-world topics to design “hard fun” cycle themes.
One of the reasons our team wanted to develop a new kind of school was because we felt traditional schooling doesn’t put enough emphasis on developing emotionally intelligent kids. But what is emotional intelligence and how do you develop it?
Media literacy is touted as one of the most important “21st century skills” for kids to master, in line with creativity, communication, and grit. Thinking through the amount of time most of us spend interacting with some form of media each day makes a good case for this.
“Lauren is fantastic and has struck a nice balance of connecting with Cooper and keeping him on task. I'm impressed to see real growth in Cooper around self awareness, reflecting on his “glows and grows,” and goal setting.” -Kym J., Prisma parent
“I've seen growth in my kids, and most importantly a solid relationship between them and their coaches. We feel so grateful for these amazing humans that have entered our kids' lives. My kids' words exactly: ‘These teachers actually want to be here. They really care!’ ” -Katie M., Parent in Kimberly’s Cohort
By introducing these concepts at home, you're setting your child up to be more financially responsible and savvy, giving them the tools to navigate an increasingly complex financial world.
“I’m so happy to have an opportunity to call out Javi. As a math educator myself I am really impressed with how he presents math concepts, differentiates for and challenges learners as needed. From a social-emotional perspective he is so kind, patient and invested in the kids as a whole. I am so happy he is Brynn’s math coach.” -Chandra S., Prisma parent
The ability to tolerate frustration is not merely about weathering the storm of the moment, but about instilling the persistence, adaptability, and resilience that set your child up for future success.
“We are eternally grateful for Prisma and the wonderful people who work there - especially the coaches - whose patience and expertise make our kids feel seen and heard and loved while also coaching them to learn knowledge and skills.” -Ashley S., Parent in Angie’s cohort
We are thrilled to announce that Prisma has earned accreditation from the Cognia Global Education Commission.
Online program? Good old-fashioned workbooks? A mix? Let’s help you unpack the options.
"Thank you for the bottom of our hearts for showing Story what it means to show up and do the hard work.” -Jenna W, Prisma Parent
Your unique way of processing the world brings with it challenges and rewards that color your parenting journey.
“Kristi sent Madeline a little note saying how much she likes seeing Madeline everyday, and Madeline grinned from ear to ear. Certainly a nice reminder of how different the relationship has been between coach and student compared to what we saw in public school.” -Pamela D., Prisma Parent
Many people assume advanced intellectual ability sets kids up for success in school, so when gifted kids struggle, it can be confusing for educators and parents.
“Despite Levi’s frustrations with science in the past, he had the most ambitious projects for Anne’s class. I love that she was able to inspire him!” -Joy J., Prisma parent
“Cindy is AMAZING! I’m so blown away by her accommodations, reprioritizing Parker’s to do lists, and always providing tons of encouragement. I’m knocked off my socks everytime I overhear her doing anything, really.” -Priscilla W., Prisma Parent
The first big surprise for me was the amazing team I would get to help me. I didn’t feel so alone when it came to supporting my kids' academic education.
“Natalie is so amazing and Karl has become very close with her. This year has seen Karl expand in his learning very much." -Anna H., Prisma parent
“Gwyn has been so wonderful to Jack. She is so relatable and authentic and really kind. She immediately bonded with him, and has really given him the freedom to be creative and take risks. She has made education and the whole "school experience" a safe place for him. With her support and encouragement, she has really made him thrive.” -Wren W., Prisma parent
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The job landscape is shifting before our eyes. Here’s how to help kids navigate future career choices.
If your child has doubts, here’s how to help them get to a “yes.”
With adolescent mental health in crisis, here’s how to support your high school student’s well-being.
At its core, creativity is the expression of our most essential human qualities: our curiosity, our inventiveness, and our desire to explore the unknown.
The concept of critical thinking can seem vast and abstract. But one of the most meaningful ways you can start to tackle it is by rethinking the role of the teacher.
Imagine your child exploring new countries, meeting people from different cultures, and gaining a deep understanding of the world in a way that simply isn't possible in traditional education.
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I never expected to find a family within my child’s school, but the leadership, teachers, parents and kids have become friends for life
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What’s behind your child’s complaint — and what to do about it.
If building social skills has been a bumpy road for your kid, here’s how to help them form healthy friendships.
The homeschool day can be quite efficient, compared to a typical public school day. Then, their school work completed, kids have plenty of time for extracurriculars, hobbies, unstructured play and generally... fun.
Possibly. But here’s what to do first.
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Kristen Shroff is an experienced educational leader who has been with Prisma from the very beginning, first as a Founding Curriculum Designer & then as Head of School. Now, as CEO, she will lead Prisma into its next stage of growth.
Meet Claire Cummings, our Head of Middle School. Claire started out as a beloved Learning Coach in our middle school program before transitioning to the Head of School role in January 2023! She is based in Detroit, Michigan.
From making a meal to balancing a budget, here’s how to help teens learn to thrive in the real world.
In our Meet the Team blog series, you’ll get to read more about the innovative thinkers behind Prisma. Next up is Emily Veno, one of Prisma's Founding Curriculum Designers. After two years focused on building Prisma's middle school curriculum, in her new role as Head of Learning Innovation she works across both the middle & high school programs.
In our Meet the Team blog series, you’ll get to read more about the innovative thinkers behind Prisma. Next up is Leena Williams, the Lead Coach & Curriculum Designer in our new high school program.
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At Prisma, we believe the families and learners who like to call themselves Prismarians—are our ‘secret sauce’! Here we highlight one of our favorite stories from the Prisma community
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And how can you support them in the classroom?
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