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.
Lizzie Thompson joined Prisma in summer 2023 as a Curriculum Designer for our Middle School program.
Where are you based?
I moved to Northampton, MA, this past summer! After five years in Colorado, I’m excited to be exploring greener mountains again and living a little closer to my family on the East Coast.
Tell us a little bit about your background in education prior to joining Prisma.
I’ve pretty much always known I wanted to be in education in some capacity. After getting a degree in Literature from Harvard, I spent six years working for the North Carolina Outward Bound School. There, I instructed backpacking and canoeing expeditions (up to 50 days long!) for teenagers and adults. While the focus of Outward Bound isn’t academic, it’s incredible to see the growth in young people when they learn to work together in new environments and challenging circumstances. I bring that inspiration with me in all the work I’ve done since! Next, I completed my Masters degree in Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Colorado and spent two years teaching English Language Arts in alternative public high schools outside of Denver, CO. I designed my own curriculum to support the students in my classroom, so I’m excited to bring those skills with me to curriculum design at Prisma!
How has your work in the classroom inspired your approach to design at Prisma?
I think a lot about what it means to give learners the tools and space to see themselves as capable in school and beyond. Before Prisma, I worked directly with many students who had been struggling with challenges outside of school and had been told by teachers/grades/systems that they couldn’t be successful. I think often about the ways I was privileged to see those students light up when they found a book to read that mattered to them, took part in mock interviews with members of the community, or tried their hands at writing their own memoirs. As I design at Prisma, I want to make sure that all of our learners are always getting support to shine!
You use your literacy expertise to weave reading & writing skills into our interdisciplinary themes. What does it mean to take an interdisciplinary approach to literacy, and why do you think it’s so effective for kids?
I love that we get to weave literacy skills into interdisciplinary themes because that's how learners will encounter them in real life too! Taking an interdisciplinary approach means we don’t separate these skills from the rest of learning. Even though we have a literacy journal and literacy workshops, you’ll notice learners building reading and writing skills in all parts of the curriculum! This is particularly important because sometimes kids can come to see English as “irrelevant” or “not my thing,” but with Prisma’s approach we get to SHOW them how these skills are part of everything they do.
What are you working on currently? Can you give us a super sneak preview of some fun upcoming curriculum?!
We’re currently designing for Cycle 2 – which will run in November and December – and I’m REALLY excited about what we have planned. Without giving too much away, I can say that it’s going to be a place where learners get to let their imaginations run wild in the literacy journal! Our hope is that it will be a playful cycle that also lets them experiment with some foundational craft & structure skills in their own writing!
What do you like to learn about, or what is something new you learned recently?
I love learning about all sorts of things! I like exploring the way people learn and grow. I have a one-year-old niece, so I’ve been channelling some energy toward learning about baby development recently. I also like challenging myself by learning new ways to adventure in the outside world. In the past few years I’ve added mountain biking and downhill skiing to my repertoire and I’m excited to learn how to cross country ski this coming winter!
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"Carolyn is a miracle worker in math. Piper's attitude towards math has improved so much this year. It's never been her favorite subject but Carolyn's patience and encouragement has made such a positive impact." -Alexia A., Prisma parent
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“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
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“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