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.
Todd Forsyth joined Prisma in Fall 2023 as a Math Learning Coach in our High School program.
Where are you based?
I am currently living in the Town of Oyster Bay on the north shore of Long Island, NY.
Tell us a little bit about your background in education prior to joining Prisma.
I’ve been working on curriculum and teaching math in public high schools for about 20 years! (That can’t be right, can it? I’m not that old, am I? 😲) I started in the New York City public school system as a Teaching Fellow as I was working on my MS in Math Education at City College. After a move to Pittsburgh, I worked in another public school teaching 9th-12th grade students. I’ve taught everything from Pre-Algebra through college-level math, and have built sets of robust and practical math elective courses appealing to learners of all interests. I can’t wait to work with our talented team to bring similar ideas to Prisma High School!
What’s the difference between being a Math Learning Coach at Prisma and teaching math at a more traditional school?
So much! For starters, it’s the amount of thought and care we put into designing meaningful and practical lessons to engage all learners. In a traditional school, where test scores rule the world, the priority is boosting a school’s ranking on standardized tests rather than engaging learners. While tests are important for learners seeking higher education, it actually is possible to focus on practicality and future skills while simultaneously building skills to score well on tests. A second difference is how well I get to know Prisma learners. In a traditional school, learners are funnelled into a track and expected to sink or swim. Problems get swept under the rug and learners are pushed along to the next year or course for someone else to “deal with.” The amount of support and check-ins our learners have at Prisma is unparalleled compared to anywhere else I’ve ever worked.
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?
I’m going to go with a non-math answer and say empathy. The world in which we currently live becomes more divisive and polarized by the day. Everything is seen as right or wrong, black or white, with nobody wanting to see grey areas or appreciate others’ points of view. One simple way to improve our empathy is mindfully and purposefully working on our listening skills, and digesting what others are saying using logical reasoning. (Hey, look at that, logical reasoning is a math skill after all!)
What do you like to learn about, or what is something new you learned recently?
I love studying foreign languages (I’m always working on my French and Russian, and I’m about to embark on learning Spanish.) I like to work on my cooking and baking skills (I took a croissant baking class with a good friend a few weeks ago). My move to Long Island has inspired me to take surfing lessons! On the more “math-y” side, I’m into Cosmology and I am learning Python. Someday I’d like to learn to play piano and fly a plane. It could happen!
We’re fans of online learning, but it depends how it’s done. Here’s some pros and cons of different kinds of online homeschooling resources to consider, plus links to a variety of options.
Unit studies blend multiple subjects together to create real-world, interest-driven learning experiences. Steal the approach our curriculum experts use to create themes with a free downloadable unit study planner.
“The curriculum at Prisma allows learners to learn about their strengths and use their passions in an organic and interdisciplinary way. The kids have the freedom to choose by having differentiated projects, quests, enrichments, and clubs.”
You might be hearing from friends, extended family, and random strangers in the doctor’s office “there’s no way your kid will be able to get into a good college as a homeschooler.” Impolite, yes. True? Let’s figure it out.
Each of the most popular homeschool styles has existed for a long time, and each has diehard evangelizers and fervent critics. From classical to unit studies to unschooling, this guide will help you find the form best suited to your family.
“What most drew me to Prisma was the chance to work with a fully project-based curriculum custom-designed for middle schoolers who are hungry for academic engagement.”
The best online school for your family is a question of priorities: More support or lower tuition costs? Traditional or project-based academics? Asynchronous or lots of interaction? We break it down in this post.
David Waitzer is the Founding Learning Coach for our first cohort in East Asia & Oceania. In this post, he describes how his background teaching and leading for innovative international education companies will help him accelerate the growth of Prisma learners.
Prisma has hundreds of learners across the Western Hemisphere. Along the way, we've gotten requests to launch cohorts in new time zones from families around the world who want to be part of what we’re building. Next up is East Asia & Oceania!
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?
Prisma High School’s Launchpad Program will prepare learners to tackle their next phase, be it college, training, or an exciting career. Trevor Baker, our LaunchPad program designer, describes how he sets learners up for success.
You might have to jump in at first. But eventually, with the right modeling and practice, kids can develop the skills to make thoughtful decisions.
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?
"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
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