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 innovative thinkers behind Prisma.
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.
Tell us a little bit about your background in education.
My entire career has been in education and I’m absolutely obsessed with teaching, learning, and school design. I started as a teacher at a public school in the Bronx, New York. I taught 6th-8th grade English Language Arts and special education and fell in love with my kids, their families, and the intellectual challenge that is figuring out how kids learn. From there, I was a founding Dean of Curriculum and Instruction at a middle school that was part of a charter network in Brooklyn, NY. I got to coach teachers, develop curriculum, and be part of building a school from the ground up.
In 2016, I spent the year founding a new independent charter middle school, traveling the country to study the highest performing schools out there, and learning from all different types of educational models as part of a fellowship program. During that time, I met with more than five hundred students and families, wrote a charter application, recruited a Board of Trustees, and interviewed with the state. Once the school was approved, I wrote all of the curriculum, set up the facility, and recruited students and staff. I then served as the Head of School for three years. In Spring 2020, I joined Prisma as part of our founding team.
What have been the biggest differences between building your charter school and building Prisma?
Oh, that’s such an interesting question! It’s really similar in a lot of ways. In both instances we started with the child. What is most important for kids to know and to be able to do? What academic and social skills do they need to be successful? What kind of experience will be the most engaging, the most fun, the most challenging? What’s different about Prisma is that charter schools are held accountable for standardized test scores, so a lot of what we designed there had to be focused on preparing students for testing. Since Prisma isn’t a school or a charter school, we’re freed from those constraints. We aren’t bound by a standard school day and schedule, so we can design a curriculum that allows kids the flexibility to create their own projects and go deeper into content that interests them, to work at their own pace and in their own way, and to have access to real-life learning content and experiences.
In your previous role as Prisma's Head of School, you hired, trained, and managed our founding group of Learning Coaches. What can you tell us about them? What do you think makes an amazing Learning Coach?
Oh, they are THE BEST! Every single one of our coaches has demonstrated results as a phenomenal teacher—they’re smart, fun, passionate, and very impressive. Collectively, they’ve won multiple teaching awards, run innovative programs, taught all over the world, led departments, been on the cutting edge of innovation in education, and built powerful lifelong relationships with kids. What makes an amazing Learning Coach is the ability to connect with all different types of kids, to understand and to deeply respect the unlimited potential that lies within each child, and to inspire them to push the limits of their current ability and to do their absolute best. Every single one of our Learning coaches can do all of that and more. I can’t wait for you to meet them!
What is your favorite part about your role as Prisma's CEO?
Working with such a passionate, thoughtful, highly effective team. Every single person at Prisma puts learners first and is excited to customize, to iterate, and to find new ways to engage, challenge, and support each learner at their level. The whole team is so positive, can-do, solutions oriented, and willing to think outside the box to create the best possible learning experience for our kids. No one on our team ever says, "This is the way it's always been." or "We can't do that." or "That's good enough." We're always asking for feedback from our learners and families and finding new and creative ways to engage kids, spark their curiosity, and nurture their love of learning.
What was middle school like for you?
I was a tomboy and a nerd in middle school. I played really competitive soccer and spent most weekends traveling the country for tournaments. At school, I was a super teacher’s pet and definitely the kid that would raise her hand to remind the teacher that she forgot to assign homework. I also loved reading and read every single Goosebumps, Baby-Sitters Club, Nancy Drew, and Hardy Boys book out there. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t have pretty robust Beanie Baby and Pokemon card collections.
Looking forward to Prisma's next phase of growth, what are you most excited about?
I'm most excited to find new ways to make Prisma even more accessible to more families all over the world. We're so proud of what we've built thus far and the glowing feedback we've received from our learners and families and we imagine a world in which kids from all over the globe have the opportunity to be a part of our supportive community, benefit from personalized mentorship and coaching, ignite their love of learning, and develop the real-world skills that will prepare to thrive in our rapidly changing world.
What do you love to learn about? Or, what’s something new you learned recently?
I love studying human development and learning! I have three young daughters and I’m always researching what milestones are coming up next, how I can be a better teacher for them, and what games and activities are in that sweet-spot of developmentally appropriate and challenging. Did you know that the human brain can generate about 23 watts of power (enough to power a lightbulb)? That’s a ton of learning potential within each of us!
Want to learn more about how Prisma can empower your child to thrive?Talk with us
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