Laura Sandefer of Acton Talks about Acton Academy
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Sacramento, California and grew up in Tacoma, Washington; Cresskill, New Jersey and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
What university did you go to?
I received my BA from Vanderbilt University and my MEd. from Peabody College.
What brought you to Austin?
Love brought me to Austin! I moved here to marry Jeff.
What is the idea behind your group?
The idea behind Acton Academy is to create a new model for educating children that combines the classic ideals of mentoring and apprenticeship with an injection of the evolving sim game technology (see Acton Sim games at http://www.actonsims.com) and an undergirding of Montessori methodology. The purpose of it all is to inspire the innate human quest for discovery and meaning in both the children who participate and their parents. More simply put, we will be a community of lifelong learners.
What need does it fulfill?
Acton Academy fulfills the need to unleash the infinite possibilities of our children and get them off an assembly-line approach to education.
What exactly does your group do?
We teach and inspire children and families; and we write curriculum that is innovative, tested and effective.
Who is it for?
We are starting with children ages 4-9 but ultimately will expand up through high school following a plan of slow growth.
What was the most challenging aspect of starting up the group?
The biggest challenge we have faced and will continue to face is the creation of an economic model for a school. It is a massive challenge to keep the cost to attend at the lower end of the private tuition range here in Austin while ensuring that we will break even. We are committed not to ever depend on government funding or private donations. We want to create this so that others can establish a school, use our curriculum and survive financially.
What is the next step for you and your group?
Our next step is to buy furniture and classroom materials.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
Be courageous. Jumping into something completely new is scary and there are so many arguments against going against the cultural norm. It is easier to be comfortable and go with the flow. Or to let other people solve the problems of the world. But good ideas carried out with love and lots of sweat are what make the world go ‘round.