If you hit a prism with light at exactly the right angle, it makes a rainbow. We believe that, like a prism, every child is multidimensional and has the ability to shine. But just as it takes the right environment for a prism to create a rainbow, it takes the right learning environment for a child to show their true abilities. This is why we named our company Prisma (aside from the fact that we think it sounds cool).
Our mission and vision is outlined on this page.
We added grades 9 and 10 for the 2022/23 academic year and will add grade 11 and subsequently grade 12 over the following two years (so that those who join us in 22/23 for 10th grade can graduate with Prisma).
You can find a detailed description of Connected Learning here.
Not yet! We have begun the accreditation process and aim to be fully accredited by the end of the 2022/23 academic year.
By engaging in Prisma's Curriculum and approach, we believe every learner will graduate ready to thrive in life, work and formal education. Beyond a strong foundation in Math, English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and Computer Science, Prisma learners also develop future-ready skills and, hopefully, a desire to make a large, positive impact on the world.
Kids who learn with Prisma will be prepared with all the prerequisite reading, writing, math, and research skills to be successful in any rigorous, high-quality academic program, including those at the most competitive high schools and colleges. The self-paced and self-directed nature of our academic model allows learners to move through content more quickly and at a deeper level than their peers in conventional schools. We also help learners develop impressive resumes that include expertise in technology, design, arts, and culture, well-developed verbal communication skills, and significant community impact and internship experience.
First, we’re not an online school, we’re a Connected Learning network. Many online schools simply transfer textbook material and testing to a digital format, provide virtual teacher-centered lectures, and then expect students to successfully learn. Prisma’s approach is entirely different and also offers so much more.
If you’re choosing between learning with Prisma and a conventional public or private school you’d choose us for:
If you’re choosing between learning with Prisma and an online school you’d choose us for:
Our approach to learning via interdisciplinary projects is both research-backed—research findings have shown that high-quality project-based learning (PBL) improves learning outcomes in a wide variety of learning environments across a diverse set of learner needs—and also unique in that Prisma Projects are purposefully not always problem or challenge-based and are often more creative and choice-based, allowing for more learner-driven exploration and development of critical thinking.
We believe that there are very valuable ways for kids to use screens (e.g. for research, for learning about topics of interest and for meeting and collaborating with kids from other places) and less valuable ways for kids to use screens. We disagree with the idea that screen time is inherently bad. At the end of the day our lives and our work will increasingly utilize screens so it’s important that this is a natural part of our kids’ education and that kids learn to use technology as a tool to make themselves smarter, more productive and more worldly rather than becoming passive consumers of technology.
Prisma learners use screens to do engaging synchronous workshops and 'stand ups' with their coach and other learners (a total of 1.5 hours per day), they use screens to access adaptive learning apps that cater exactly to the child's level and speed of learning (usually less than 1 hour per day) and they use screens for some aspects of their projects (e.g. to write responses and read materials). We do believe there is great value to off-screen, hands-on learning, and we thus include as many off-screen options into our projects and independent learning routines as possible.
Academic rigor is highly prioritized at Prisma. Learning just happens differently here, for the better! Instead of checking boxes to meet externally derived educational standards, we encourage learners to follow their curiosity to excavate their interests and passions. This fuels learning that’s fun and engaging while facilitating whole-person development. Learning this way, along with the skillful support of our Learning coaches, enables the achievement of academic mastery while allowing the love of learning to flourish. Much of the recent wave of innovation in education focused on test scores as the gold standards of success. We believe that mastery of ‘core’ content and exceptional educational outcomes can be achieved without test anxiety, without dry lectures delivered to students, and without adults directing a child’s every move. We also know that now more than ever, top colleges and companies are looking for well-rounded students with a rich portfolio of projects, a resume of real-world experiences and the ability to express themselves with originality and confidence. Learners who partner with Prisma will be far ahead of their traditionally-educated peers in this respect.
Please have a look at our Program page to get a better idea of what a typical day at Prisma looks like.
Aside from our live synchronous workshops (which total 90 mins Monday - Thursday) families are free to schedule their days however they wish. Flexibility is one of the great benefits of our program. If families wish travel during the typical school year - that's no problem. We have many kids who tune into Prisma while traveling with their family (or simply take some time off during the school year). If families wish to fit in extracurriculars during the day or get-togethers with friends, that's also no problem. Having said this we do provide a suggested schedule for those families that want a clear structure for their child's day and many of our learners do follow this.
See our academic calendar here.
We believe that learners are more than a test score and that depth of knowledge cannot be assessed via traditional assessments. Learners are given rich written and verbal feedback on their contributions to their cohort, on their improvement in projects and badges, and on their self-paced, app-based academic learning progress.
That said, we perform a small amount of pre-testing in reading, math and writing to understand where each learner is coming from in terms of academic skills and we repeat these tests twice throughout the year to ensure that we are meeting the academic goals of our families. We also administer third-party and proprietary assessments (these are lightweight and generally require effort for coaches rather than kids) to measure learner well-being, 21st century skills acquisition, and social-emotional learning.
No. There has been considerable research showing that grades reduce kids' intrinsic motivation and encourage them to do 'just enough' rather than their best. Kids who receive low grades tend to get demotivated and kids who receive high grades often learn to put in just enough effort to get an A, rather than delving into topics for the love of learning and doing their absolute best. Instead of grades, Prisma learners receive in-depth and frequent written and verbal feedback from coaches and peers on their work. Learners are asked to revise their work until it represents their very best. In this way, we believe that kids' learning is far deeper than if you get a grade on an essay or assignment and then move on, perhaps never really understanding what you could have done to improve.
Having said this, if a families absolutely needs a transcript with grades for their child (e.g. if they are applying to a competitive private high school) our coaches have more than enough understanding of learner's performance to be able to provide this.
Here's a great article from Harvard Graduate School of Education on why competency-based badges are better than seat-time-based grades.
We work with your family to create a transcript that reflects your child's learning. Our workshops, projects and academic progress via adaptive learning apps can be translated into courses that would be recognized by traditional schools. We help each learner maintain a cumulative portfolio containing their Prisma documentation, writing, projects and coach feedback that families can include when applying for admission to selective schools and programs.
In order to participate in Prisma, learners need a strong internet connection and consistent access to a computer with a camera and a microphone—which can be built-in, like on a laptop. We also strongly recommend that learners have access to a quiet and private learning space that’s free from distraction.
We are not presently able to include a technology bundle within Prisma’s pricing.
Learners who partner with Prisma should be able to independently navigate online resources such as live video, learning websites, Google Suite, etc. While we provide each new learner with the tools to navigate the platforms that everyone at Prisma uses, if your child does not yet know how to type or independently navigate online resources, we may ask your child to complete personalized digital literacy training before starting Prisma.
At Prisma, socialization happens virtually, and we have found that it is rich, meaningful and natural for most of our learners. In fact, one of the things that has really beaten our own expectations is how quickly Prisma friendships have blossomed and how tight-knit the learner community has become. We have found that socialization at Prisma comes with many of the same upsides that in-person school provides (i.e. the chance to make friendships, share common interests, blow off steam and provide support) but without the downsides that some kids struggle with in an in-person school environment (i.e. cliques, bullying and other exclusionary behavior). Our program provides considerable opportunities for kids to form friendships, from our standups where kids meet daily with their coach to share their thoughts and have fun, to team challenges, small-group exercises and group projects. We also have learner-run clubs, from gaming and entrepreneurship to art and baking, and a highly engaged online learner forum.
Having said all this, we do think in-person socialization is still important and we strongly encourage Prisma learners to have extracurricular interests outside of Prisma that enable them to meet with other kids in person.
Prisma Learning coaches are caring, inspiring individuals who love kids and are deeply motivated to facilitate their growth. From a diverse range of backgrounds, Prisma coaches have been top-rated public and private school teachers, counselors, youth mentors, and more.
Common qualities that all of our Learning coaches possess are a love for learning, a passion for working with―and facilitating the holistic development of―kids, high social, emotional, and analytical intelligence, and a curious and courageous approach to life. All Learning coaches go through a rigorous selection process that includes multiple interviews, a written assignment, sample lesson plans, a video of them teaching/facilitating a class, extensive reference checking, and a thorough background check.
Prisma Learning coaches are:
Prisma Learning coaches are not:
Prisma Learning coaches engage in a robust on-boarding process that provides comprehensive training for implementing our model and facilitating high-quality, effective, and joy-filled experiences for learners. In addition to already having lots of experience and cultivated skills working with youth before they join Prisma, coaches are trained in academic methodologies such as the Socratic method and equipped with tools for navigating difficult conversations that they may need to successfully support learners within our community.
Learning coaches are themselves coached and supported by our learning experience design team and senior leadership, who have experience mentoring and leading teachers as well as cultivating an exceptional work environment for teams. We work to ensure that each coach feels connected and supported with a wide network of resources from which to draw. Just like we curate the best, world-class curriculum for our learners, we also curate the best resources for our Learning coaches to continually grow their skills and effectiveness in communication, leadership, facilitation, and beyond. Additionally, all of our coaches are in part selected for their individual love of learning and growth mindset, so you’ll find they’re incredibly motivated to continually refine and enhance their craft!
In addition to scheduled virtual meetings with your family, Prisma provides coaches with office hours in their schedules to talk with parents more informally. You’ll have direct contact information for your child’s coach and are invited to reach out at any time. Our coaches view connecting with parents as a chance to collaborate in supporting each learner on the path to becoming their best self.
A wealth of encouragement, guidance, and well-matched challenges to grow them, of course! One of our coaches’ primary roles is to provide proactive, caring mentorship, accountability, motivation, and support to your child and other learners in their cohort. Whether connecting your child with a different learning resource to better match how they learn best, unpacking roadblocks in moments of strain when they feel mentally stuck, empowering them to shoot for a wild goal that is achievable with diligent effort, or just supporting them during a hard day, your child’s coach is here for learning and more and is eager to lend a hand where beneficial!
A positive, safe, mutually respectful learning environment is baked into the culture of Prisma at an elemental level. We intentionally build a strong base of trust and esteem within each cohort and across our entire learner community so that every learner feels a sense of safety, belonging and freedom to be themselves. Bullying and other detrimental means of interacting are not tolerated at Prisma. Because we heavily emphasize the creation of shared group norms through a collaboratively-built Cohort contract early in the year, learners are able to enjoy a great deal of freedom to collaborate together on projects, form interest-based clubs, etc. via online break-out groups. Any time learners are in a peer-only online environment, the cohort’s coach and members of our leadership team may check the tenor of the conversation to make sure that it’s both uplifting and, when relevant, productive. While Prisma doesn’t monitor external interactions (such as via social media) that learners chose to engage in outside of official Prisma channels, we hope that the learner agreements and culture that is intentionally cultivated encourages positive interactions beyond Prisma as well.
Learners who choose Prisma may be extroverted, introverted, funny, opinionated, pensive, gregarious, eager, reserved, a little bit rebellious, and everything in between! A bit of curiosity and adaptability goes a long way in enabling learners to flourish in our community, and basic digital skills for navigating online learning are important too (We can help with this). Our goal is to see every child who learns with Prisma brimming with self-esteem, the confidence to be their authentic selves, a strong sense of personal agency, and passion for at least one thing that deeply excites them. We also are committed to fostering a collaborative and community-oriented environment that encourages kids to thrive.
Our admissions page outlines how to apply.
Yes! We have many siblings at Prisma. (We recommend that your children each have access to a computer rather than sharing one)
Because K-12 education is regulated at the state (and even local school district) level, we aren’t able to provide a singular response for what notification you may be required to provide or what steps you may need to take where you live. We’ve found that the majority of US states simply require a family to formally withdraw their child from public school—typically by filling out a form that can be obtained either online and/or at your local public school where you state the reason for not attending public school as attending private school instead.
A minority of US states classify students who attend an online private school not specifically based in the student’s state of residence as homeschooled. To our present knowledge, CA, LA, MA, MD, NY and PA operate this way. If you live in one of those US states, you can reach out to your local district to learn how to homeschool in your local area. You can also read about homeschooling in your state here or in your country (if located outside of the US) here.
Because we believe that your ability to receive a phenomenal education shouldn’t depend on your ability to pay, we offer financial support for families who cannot afford our standard pricing. Our goal is that a substantial number of learners in each cohort receive financial support, so please don't let your ability to pay stop you from applying.
You can request financial support within your child’s application.
Within your child’s application you will be asked to state your income along with what you can afford to pay for Prisma. Given this information and any other factors that you wish to share, we’ll evaluate your request for support. We have limited spots available at various pricing levels within our cohorts, so we recommend that you apply as soon as possible to increase the likelihood of support being available.
The level of involvement expected by parents will vary depending upon the needs of each child. Some children will be able to navigate Prisma nearly fully independently. Others will need a lot more support and aren’t yet ready for total learning autonomy. We expect parents—together with their child’s Learning coach—to periodically evaluate how much independence, autonomy, and support is right for their child. This is an evolving process with learners progressing toward greater independence and self-direction as they move through their Prisma journey. Having said this, we surveyed our families regarding how much time they spend each day supporting their Prisma learner(s) and the vast majority said 'less than one hour'.
In addition to supporting your child, if your state or country is among the minority that require students who attend online private schools to register as homeschoolers (e.g. NY state), you will be responsible for homeschool registration and meeting associated state requirements. If your child is accepted to Prisma we will support you in this process; however, the ultimate responsibility for compliance with K-12 education regulations lies with each family. If you are curious to learn more about homeschooling requirements in each US state, this website is very helpful.
Child safety is our utmost priority. We address safety in the following ways:
Technology: All of the platforms that power Prisma are password protected to ensure only learners, coaches, and parents can access them.
Content: We endeavor for our content to be objective and age-appropriate. Needless to say, discrimination, hate speech, and violence are strictly prohibited.
Peer interactions: A key focus at Prisma is developing a culture within our cohorts that is supportive, respectful, inclusive, and kind. Each cohort develops its own code of conduct, to which they must hold themselves accountable. Continued membership in the group will depend on learners meeting the requirements of the code of conduct. Learning Coaches are also responsible for ensuring that peer interactions are respectful, but we think that peers holding peers accountable can be even more powerful.
Learning coach: Our Learning coaches go through a rigorous selection process that includes multiple interviews, a written assignment, sample lesson plans, a video of them teaching/facilitating a class, extensive reference checking, and a thorough background check. Synchronous sessions between the learning coach and their cohort are recorded and are monitored for quality and training.
At home: Parents are responsible for ensuring that all learners are supervised by a trusted adult while they are working on Prisma at home to ensure their safety.
One of the most integral commitments within Prisma’s model is preparing learners for life ahead. Preparation for success in high school and college is part of this vision; however, we don’t stop there. To us, the scope of holistically successful outcomes extends to a love of learning, interpersonal relationships, financial literacy, global citizenry, stewardship of natural resources, and more. Learners will be prepared both for education beyond Prisma and for life beyond formal learning.
Our hope is that Prisma works exceptionally well for all learners, and we will continue to refine the design of Prisma so that it serves a continually broader and more diverse group of learners as we grow. If families choose to no longer partner with Prisma, we will provide them with a learner portfolio (documenting all key learning milestones and developed competencies), which we can help you to convert to a "transcript" that captures all the courses (i.e. badges) your child has done at Prisma. This serves to translate their work at Prisma to a conventional school’s equivalent requirements and would be yours to edit and add to as you see fit.
We have learners with a wide range of special needs thriving at Prisma - from ADHD and dyslexia to dysgraphia and processing disorders, among others. Given the flexible and customized nature of our program, we can be an especially good fit for some learners with disabilities, though we certainly don't claim to be the right fit all learner with special needs. For more information about the accommodations we are able to offer, please read our Inclusion Vision Statement. If you'd like to discuss your child's particular needs, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have experienced educators on staff who are eager to lead a cohort when needed!
Victoria and Alain, founders of Prisma, are serial entrepreneurs who’ve spent most of their careers in technology. Like so many parents, their worldview changed upon the birth of their three children. Suddenly the world’s challenges and the rapidly changing future felt very urgent and very personal. How, they wondered, could they prepare their young children to thrive in a tumultuous, ever-changing world where they can’t even begin to imagine the careers that will exist? They saw their young children’s passion for learning, joy for life, and supreme confidence and felt sure they’d be ok. But then they heard about older children who hate school, who struggle with anxiety, depression, or bullying, who hardly resemble their former happy selves. Might this one day be their kids? This was the beginning of their quest to completely reimagine school. Prisma is for Victoria and Alain's children and, hopefully, for yours too.
We are looking for gutsy, humble, can-do, driven team players to join us. Have a look at our hiring needs.
We enjoy the flexibility of our digitally interconnected world by having a fully remote team located across the globe. We are registered as a Florida, USA private school and meet the state of Florida's diploma requirements. For record-keeping purposes, we are headquartered in California, USA.
A key part of Prisma’s mission is to create a global network of young people who learn and grow together in mutually enriching community. As such, we are expanding the time zones in which we operate as quickly as possible. For now, Prisma learners need to be fluent in English, and our middle school program is available in all geographies aside from UTC+4 to UTC+8 (i.e. We are not yet able to offer our program in countries with time zones like India, Russia or China).
Prisma High School will initially be available in US-compatible and Western European time zones.