I’ve visited and studied hundreds of innovative models of schooling over the past decade, and Acton continues to be one of the most promising models…. Acton is a truly inspiring and exceptional school.
— Bernard Bull, associate professor of education at Concordia University Wisconsin, author of Etale – Education, Innovation, Experimentation


“At the Acton Academy, kids teach themselves and each other, as they respond to a series of challenges offered by adult “guides.” The challenges are tough, which leaves no one a stranger to life’s best teacher—failure. Talking out of turn and challenging the status quo are commonplace, but laziness and shirking are not acceptable.

The kids are responsible for an astounding number of things, right down to the janitorial work. Students run their own governance and currency systems, immersing themselves in negotiation and conflict resolution. They work part time as apprentices at local architecture firms, bakeries, and dance studios, exploring their personal interest and talents. And yes, they learn reading, writing, and arithmetic using state-of-the-art, game-based teaching tools that have helped them progress at three times the rate of their public school peers.

Best of all, kids are free to be kids. There’s no need to pump them full of Adderall to keep them chained to their desks, as they have the run of the place. Every act of learning is voluntary and self-directed.”

Read the full article here.

Acton Academy is on the leading edge of what it means to give students agency of their own learning.
— Sal Khan, Founder of Khan Academy

Montessori meets Silicon Valley.
— Reason Magazine, January 26, 2018


"The idea that you go work for IBM for 30 years and get a pension is antiquated," says Craig Shapiro, associate super­intendent for high schools in the Austin Independent School District, a position he assumed after starting the Crockett program, Student Inc. "By the year 2020, 40 percent of the jobs will be entrepreneurial in nature. Yet we have a factory-style education system that doesn't prepare kids" for such a world.

What Shapiro, Sandefer, and the others leading this youth entrepreneurship movement are doing doesn't look like factory-style education. It looks messy. It often looks dubious--much as startups do. Sometimes, as at the Acton Children's Business Fair, it looks inspired. Forget the too-familiar question: Can entrepreneurship be taught? The one these new initiatives pose is subtler, and far more significant: Can entrepreneurship--and, more important, the traits that underpin successful entrepreneurs--be learned?”

“The "hero's journey" is Sandefer's term for pursuing a "life of meaning," another favorite phrase. To him, entrepreneurship is doing something you're good at, that you enjoy doing, and that the world needs (or at least that people will pay you for). Much at the Acton Academy is built to further that pursuit. As at a Montessori school, Acton teachers are guides--in fact, that's what they're called--who put kids to work on projects and then point them to resources to solve problems on their own. Those resources include online simulation games Sandefer paid to have developed, in which players learn to spot production bottlenecks in a factory, or compete to sell water without getting into a price war. (He developed the games for his MBA school but has found his younger pupils benefit from them too.)”

Read the full article here.

Acton Academy is one of the most important education developments in the world.
— Tom Vander Ark, CEO of Getting Smart, Previously Executive Director of Education for The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

I was so impressed with [Acton Academy] that I persuaded my husband to move from Honolulu, Hawaii, to the heart of Central Texas so our five young children could enroll.
— Heather Staker, coauthor of Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools


“The learning process is structured in a manner that children are encouraged to discover their personal “hero’s journey.” Abilgail King, a parent of an Acton student who became a guide, thinks this is central to the exceptional achievements being witnessed.

“The idea of looking at your life as a narrative that you have control over,” King said. “I didn’t figure that out for myself until I was in my twenties. But these young kids, some of them are six years old when they come to Acton, are being given the idea that they are the protagonist in their life story. And that they are the heroes. It’s so empowering that I think it gives the context that how they spend today affects what their choices will be for tomorrow.”

Read the full article here.

Acton Academy has transformed our family, inspiring each of us to find a calling and discover a Hero’s Journey.
— Kimberly Watson-Hemphill, Author of FAST INNOVATION and Founder and CEO, Freefly Consulting

Forget show and tell: These young entrepreneurs aim to show and sell.
— The Washington Post, May 30, 2017


“Acton Academy. Jeff and Laura Sandefer have two rules for learning guides at Acton — they’re not called teachers: 1. No shaming children. 2. Don’t answer questions. This fidelity to the socratic approach has created one of the most unique and inspiring school cultures I’ve seen. Students own their own learning at such deep levels at Acton, that the school is able to do much more learning with far fewer teachers than other schools. Jeff wrote the foreward to a great resource for people interested in this topic: Clark Aldrich’s Unschooling Rules.

Read the full article here.

Acton Academy is on the vanguard of change in education in our country.
— Seth Godin, Author of STOP STEALING DREAMS