Overcoming Early Failures & Challenges
Acton Lincoln came to us at a time where our oldest was in the public school after trying private schools in Lincoln and everything in between.
We were midway into 2020 when online learning was not going well and we were all frustrated at home. We watched a video that solidified everything my husband and I believed and wished for our children…that they have the ability to change the world.
Our start to Acton was rocky and there were so many times we all wanted to quit. But we knew that there was a reason we found ourselves here. We are so thankful for Acton and all it continues to teach us as a family. We are all life-long learners and we can’t wait to see where our family continues to grow.
We finished our year in public school and made the transition hoping for the best but, ultimately, not knowing what to expect. Elijah, our oldest, 8 at the time, did not thrive. He struggled. We watched him unlearn a lot of the things he excelled at in public school as he is very intelligent but only knew how to use that skill to ace tests and finish work early to have “free time.”
At Acton, it isn’t about the testing, it is about the personal development, a skill that we longed for our children to develop but didn’t have the tools to encourage it by ourselves. Acton is that tool for us. As the year progressed, Elijah struggled more. He struggled having his voice heard. He struggled with his peers. He struggled finding his place in the studio. He struggled with his emotions as he learned how to manage those emotions as he became more frustrated along the way. Acton is hard. But they are allowing heroes to fail, early, cheaply, often, in order to learn hard lessons now when the stakes are low.
But he also excelled. He excelled at his problem solving skills. His adventurous spirit came out of him–our once fearful child is now climbing trees and exploring the wilderness and nature like never before. He has learned how to share his feelings in a healthy way. He has learned time management skills–something we are still working on as adults. He is learning how to be a better leader, as his sister has now joined him at Acton in the Spark Studio, and as he has the chance to be a part of his studio council.
Parents Reflect on their Journey to Acton:
"We can't think of a better legacy than this."
We had high expectations for Acton Academy coming in, and Acton has exceeded them.
Our journey to Acton is probably like many others. We felt there was more to education than what we'd seen with traditional schooling. And that's not a knock on the teachers, only the current system they work in, which in our view is suboptimal. Reading books like Nurture Shock and The Talent Code and listening to TED Talks like Sir Ken Robinson's opened our eyes to a new way of thinking and inspired use to explore alternative education options in Lincoln, Nebraska. We questioned why today's approach to traditional schooling is essentially the same as decades ago.
A series of events then unfolded that led us to Acton Academy Lincoln. First, our daughter, who is very much an outside-the-box thinker and someone who is always coming up with new ideas, was being graded on her handwriting in 1st grade. What wasn't on the checklist scorecard was creativity, where she thrives. Why is that? Doctors toil for years after college, working long hours to perfect their craft, and we consider them successful in life. You know what else they're known for...having illegible handwriting. So why the disconnect in our school system? Why not emphasize usable skills in today's world--creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking--instead of procedural rigamarole? Our daughter would come home from traditional school exhausted, no doubt because they forced her to learn in a manner that didn't suit her best. We can only imagine how many other kids are in her shoes.
During the fall of 2020 through the spring of 2021, we homeschooled our daughter. Our daughter thrived under this less rigid education model. She had the autonomy to study what she wanted when she wanted. To spend more time on something that interested her and less time on what didn't while still getting the work done. The idea that a one-size-fits-all approach works for school doesn't make much sense. The home school experiment was not a long-term solution, so thankfully, we learned about Acton during the tail end of our daughter's second-grade year.
We had high expectations for Acton Academy coming in, and Acton has exceeded them. We love this school, its mission, philosophy, and how it encourages kids to be kids—Forest Fridays, learning about podcasts and outdoor survival, engineering, etc. We love the mixed-age studios and how everyone works together and encourages each other. Focusing on critical thinking skills, collaborating with your peers, communication, and brainstorming creative ways to solve problems are vital skills for today's world.
- Jon & Audrey Sevenker
Acton Lincoln Parents
At Acton Academy, a private school in Lincoln Nebraska, we believe that the American Experiment, with all its faults, is the best hope on earth for protecting human liberty. As Acton Co-Founder Jeff Sandefer says in this episode of Our American Experiment, "We believe in liberty and justice and the ideals of the American revolution as the cornerstones of civilization. In addition to experiential learning, we will study the American documents and the true meaning behind them, as we examine other cultures and forms of government."
This session our heroes (what we call our students) learned about the American flag and the history of the pledge of allegiance.
Whenever possible, we bring in what we call "everyday heroes," individuals who can share their life experience and stories from their own Heroes Journey that may inspire and help further the lessons we are exploring in our Elementary Studios.
Last week, we had the opportunity to invite a real-life hero into our studio to speak to our heroes! Mr. Borchardt, who currently serves as a Captain in the U.S. Army and National Guard, shared about his job and what being a part of a team means to him. “Being a part of something bigger than myself is what my job is really about. In order to accomplish our missions, my team has to work together.”
Mr. Borchardt’s words relate very closely to what life looks like in our studio here at Acton. Each and every day, our heroes must work together to ensure they accomplish their SMART goals for the day and stay on schedule. If one hero falls off the track, the entire tribe is affected.
Mr. Borchardt described that America to him is about opportunity and freedoms. “Less than 1% of Americans go into the military. We get to do things over 99% of people don’t get to do.” This goes to show how incredible of a job Mr. Borchardt has and how he truly is a hero every day. At Acton, our heroes learn every day how special of a role they have in the world! Becoming a real hero may not be the easiest or most common path, but, as Mr. Borchardt shared, there is no doubt it is the most impactful. To wrap up our time our special guest, we asked Mr. Borchardt to share any advice he had for our Acton Lions. He said, “Focus on being a part of the team here. If you give your best, your team will be able to give their best too.”
We are incredibly grateful for Mr. Borchardt’s service to our country and that he was able to come share about his hero’s journey in our studio! We can’t wait to see how our young heroes apply what they learned from this discussion to their adventures here at Acton!
Acton Academy Lincoln
A learner-driven private school in Lincoln, Nebraska. We offer a truly different approach to school. Supported by the latest in technology and cognitive science, we move beyond the traditional tools of lectures, homework, high-stakes tests, and grades. At Acton Academy Lincoln, students K-8 learn in collaborative classrooms of multi-age learners. Our flexible approach challenges each student with their differentiated learning plan and inspires them through real-world projects.
Meet The Andersons
A FOUNDING FAMILY WHO WAS ON A JOURNEY TO FIND A BETTER SCHOOL OPTION FOR THEIR SON HERE IN LINCOLN
This is an open letter penned by Tori Anderson to prospective parents after her family discovered Acton Academy.
When we found Acton Academy Lincoln we were on a journey to find something different for our oldest son. He had done private school for kindergarten and then public school for first grade. Each year we were told he was a good kid but just wasn’t doing the things he was asked to do. We were seeing a completely different and curious kid that would come home from school defeated and upset. Even going to the library and checking out books at school wasn’t enjoyable to him. He had a perfect idea of what books he wanted but was told he had to do one fiction and one non fiction when all he wanted was non fiction books.
When COVID hit we, along with everyone else, were forced to become the teacher for our kids. But Elijah struggled. It’s not that he didn’t want to do the work but it’s that he didn’t want to do it in the way they had set up. He knew the answers. He could pass the tests and do the homework. He was just bored. But once we loosened the reigns and let him make his schedule and follow his lead he began to become the curious little boy we knew he was. He spent hours learning about the seven wonders of the world, exploring how to build things, and learning about the ins and outs of large semi trucks.
The first thing I heard was 'we believe all kids are geniuses and will change the world' — I cried. That was something we believed about him but just didn’t know how to cultivate in the school setting we had chosen for him.
Then enter Acton Academy. The first thing I heard was “we believe all kids are geniuses and will change the world” — I cried. That was something we believed about him but just didn’t know how to cultivate in the school setting we had chosen for him. We see Elijah thriving in Acton—not because of the freedom but because the box he was told he had to fit into will be removed and he can be anything he wants to be. It will be hard work, he knows that, but he’s ready! He’s eager to start and learn anything he can get his hands on!