What Does It Take to Thrive at Acton Academy?

Laura Sandefer

March 14, 2018

We can boil the Acton Academy systems to just two choices that ensure a happy, fruitful learning journey:

Be kind.
Do some work every day.

Simple, right?

Yes, but not always easy.

It actually takes time and practice to become strong in both. But we believe learning them deeply will position our Eagles well for the rest of their lives. With this goal, our systems are built to support growth – providing grace and forgiveness with accountability and feedback – all along the way. By the time an Eagle progresses through elementary school, middle school and Launchpad, they have gained a high level of complex decision-making around these two choices.

For example, in the very early years, kindness is as simple as not hitting each other and not saying mean words. Soon, layered into this experience is learning that not distracting each other during work time is an act of kindness. Then, Eagles learn to make peace with each other using the process at the Peace Table and to give and receive feedback that is kind yet tough, warm and cool. Later, kindness includes learning how to apologize well and deciphering the difference between kind-hearted and mean-spirited humor. Finally, in Launchpad, kindness is played out through authentic servant leadership grounded in honesty, humility, and confidence.

The same sort of progression happens in terms of learning the habit of working every day. What begins as short but daily spurts of reading, writing and math progresses into three-hour sessions of daily work and ultimately, uninterrupted deep work experienced as flow. The work ethic is built step by step with the gratifying experience of earning badges of mastery and experiencing what excellence feels like. Mediocrity won’t satisfy once you’ve tasted excellence.

The simple choices of being kind and working each day end up feeding each other so the alternative doesn’t make sense anymore as a good way to live life.

Dr. Seuss said, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

Just be kind and do some work. That’s it.

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Middle School

6th-8th Grade

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Middle School is where young people rapidly start owning their education. Middle school is the perfect time to develop intellect and character while gaining a deeper sense of self and the real world. Students have a broad palette of topics to study and pair in-depth academic exploration with real-world connections to experts and local apprenticeships. Middle School is about deepening a passion for individual subjects while broadening your understanding of yourself and your future.