A school for the 21st century.
What is Acton?
River Oak Academy is an Acton Academy Affiliate. Acton Academy is a learner-driven community comprising a series of micro schools that serve ages 5-18. Acton Academy encourages children to plan their school days and manage their own time. The academy engages students in real-world projects, educational gaming or quests, and Socratic discussions in multi-age classrooms. It focuses on the “Hero’s Journey” of each student – helping students develop their academic skills while seeking their calling in life. Acton Academy opened its first location in 2009 in Austin, Texas, and has since opened over 30 campuses all over the world.
Classes at Acton Academy bear little resemblance to a traditional school environment. Students are supervised by adult “guides” who serve as a support resource for students, rather than as traditional teachers. Guides are responsible for leading students in Socratic discussions and they facilitate time set aside for individual student learning. Students are expected to resolve problems on their own. Guides do not answer student questions directly; instead, they ask students questions to help them explore and understand topics deeply.
Acton believes that every child deserves to find a calling that will change the world and the school seeks to provide students with skills and experiences that will help them find that calling. Students often engage in apprenticeships to develop practical skills and to find what kinds of work they are called to do. The Acton school year is 11 months long to maximize learning time. The schedule is divided into trimesters.
Learning at Acton is both personalized and student-driven. Students decide what they want to learn and they put together an action plan for how to learn it. Each student is given several hours of individual learning time each day. They are provided online tools such as Beast Academy or Khan Academy to facilitate their learning. During this time, students are allowed freedom to allocate the time they spend on various core subjects (math, reading, writing) and they also decide which learning tools to use.
“Young heroes” celebrate the mastery of tools, skills, and character by earning badges, assembling portfolios, and taking part in public exhibitions. Parents use badges to track academic progress in core skills like reading, writing, math, spelling, and character development. Electronic and hard copy portfolios capture rough drafts, photos, video, and other creative work. Public exhibitions at the end of most “quests” allow students to present work not only to parents, but also to experts, customers, or the public for a realworld test.
Community is fundamental to the Acton experience. The single-room approach ensures continued student interaction, and students create and enforce a constitution and an honor code each year to govern the classroom environment. This teaches students vital skills in governing and community building. Acton also provides ceremonies and activities designed to engage students in their school communities. This encourages students to push each other to work hard and to hold themselves and each other accountable for their education. Acton officials report that some students advance two to two-and-a-half grade levels a year because they are so engaged.
“I think the most important thing is that the entire school is based on a Hero’s Journey and that we believe every child deserves to find a calling that will change the world.” – Jeff Sandefer, Founder, Acton Academy