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  • What do you mean by a Hero's Journey and why do you call the learners Heroes?
    We believe that each of us has a special calling in life, and a series of trials and tests that must be faced with integrity and purpose, in order to live a satisfying and fulfilled life. Our mission is to prepare your Hero for his or her special journey.
  • How will I know if my child is a good fit for a self-directed learning environment?
    Acton Academy Santa Cruz is a multi-age learning environment where learners take the lead on their academic experience. They design their own learning plan for which they set goals and work at their own pace, and do so among a community of peers who work together to self-govern and provide accountability to each other as they learn and grow. Success requires motivation, self-direction, and disciplined effort, as well as the ability to work well with peers. Learners work independently for core skills learning, and collaboratively with peers for hands-on projects. In addition, they participate in group discussions that require listening skills and the ability to voice opinions in a respectful and thoughtful manner. It is important for the learner to understand expectations and adhere to them in order to gain the most out of their learning experience. In creating a community of self-directed learners, these are some of the things we “look-for” that indicate our learning environment may be a good fit for your child: Spark Studio (ages 5-7): 1. Exhibits a positive attitude about learning in general 2. Participates willingly in classroom activities 3. Follows simple oral directions 4. Actively engages in their own learning and is generally curious 5. Displays the following social and emotional skills most of the time. Makes friends and plays cooperatively Shows empathy Manages strong feelings like frustration and disappointment without becoming aggressive or withdrawn Separates from parent without distress 6. Engages in an activity for at least 15 minutes 7. Possesses basic communication skills 8. Is physically self-reliant 9. Is able to care for studio materials and contribute to cleaning the physical space Discovery (Elementary) Studio: (Below are additional prerequisites for the ES) Knows all of their letter sounds and is beginning to read independently. Follow basic written and oral instructions. Able to engage and participate in a 15-minute discussion with peers. Can set, remember, and pursue a goal for 30 minutes or more. Works well with peers by respecting their space and goals Takes responsibility for actions and choices Middle and High Studios: *Students must be fluently reading to enter the middle school studio. If your 11 year old is still working on reading skills, please apply for the Discovery Studio and they may move up when they are ready. Positive attitude about learning in general Takes responsibility for learning and problem-solving Self-advocates Follows written and oral directions Displays the following social and emotional skills nearly all of the time. Makes friends and cooperates with others Shows empathy Manages strong feelings like frustration and disappointment without becoming aggressive or withdrawn 6. Willingness to help others and demonstrates leadership 7. Can set, remember, and pursue a goal for 45+ minutes 8. Takes care of studio and personal space with organization skills 9. Participates often in Socratic Discussions 10. Is ready to challenge themselves 11. Has a strong "why" for wanting to be in a learner-driven environment
  • What is the balance of freedom and structure at Acton Socratic Academy?
    While Acton is a learner-driven community, there are guardrails in place to help guide students throughout their day, session, and year. We empower students to create and modify the systems and agreements that all Heroes work within, so they are thriving in a learner-driven envirnoment, with boundaries of their own making. This blog post by Acton Academy Main Campus founder Laura Sandefer is a great resource to learn more:
  • Is Acton Academy Montessori?
    We respect and incorporate Maria Montessori’s philosophy but, we are not a Montessori school. We also use the latest interactive technologies, hands on projects, and the Socratic Method for discussions.
  • What is the Socratic Method?
    The Socratic Method is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions.
  • Are children grouped by grades?
    We believe that children learn best when working with children younger and older than themselves, rather than being split up into groups based solely on similar age. In addition to individualized curriculum, all ages of students work together in groups.
  • How do you use technology in the classroom without students having too much screen time?
    At Acton Academy, we believe in the power of balance. Using the incredible, self-paced e-learning tools now available, we are able to provide the rigor needed for learning math, vocabulary, spelling and grammar in about 90 minutes each day, while freeing up the rest of the day for engaging, project-based learning. The two are highly complementary.
  • How is Acton Academy Santa Cruz affiliated with Acton Academy?
    Acton Academy Santa Cruz is part of the network of over 200 Acton Academies around the world. We follow the same learning design and learning model that the founders helped create at the original Acton Academy campus in Austin, Texas, while honoring our own uniqueness as well. We are not a franchise but a network of parents bound by the principles of freedom, responsibility, hard work and ultimate belief in the human genius within each child.
  • Is Acton Academy Santa Cruz a school?
    Acton Academy Santa Cruz is an accredited learning center. All learners must be registered through either a Private School Affidavit (PSA), Private School Satellite Program (like Seacliff Academy) or be enrolled in a charter or public school independent studies program. For more information about these options please contact us!
  • What is your accreditation?
    Acton Academy Santa Cruz is a learning center accredited through the International Association of Learner Driven Schools. You can find out more information at
  • Where does the Acton name come from?
    Acton Academy is named after Lord John Emerich Edward Dahlberg Acton (1834-1902), a Victorian scholar of Freedom who saw liberty not as a license, but as the freedom to do what was right. He was suspicious of power for the sake of power, which led to his most famous quote: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." At Acton Academy, we celebrate his defense of economic, political and religious freedom.
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