The Vogels Journey to Acton
"I finally found what I didn’t know I was looking for."
The following is an open letter penned by Kash's Mom, Jessica Vogel, to prospective parents after her family discovered Acton Academy.
Long before I ever had kids, I had spent 2 years working toward a degree in childhood education (I wanted to be a 3rd or 4th-grade teacher). As part of the degree program, I spent 80 hours assisting in a 4th-grade classroom. What I learned during that time, was that the public education system is designed to keep the ‘average’ kid moving forward while the above or below average are forced to simply comply with the status quo. I could go on and on about my opinions as to why I think the system is flawed, but ultimately I just concluded that it wasn’t a good fit for me and likely wouldn’t be a good fit for my children.
Once Kash was born, I started looking into local private schools, but frankly, I didn’t feel that Lincoln had very strong alternatives. This left me feeling a little defeated, and I started mentally preparing myself to send Kash to LPS. I actually went as far as enrolling him. Then COVID hit. Which made public education feel even more constrained than before. I decided to register as a homeschool parent at about the same time that my friend told me about Acton Academy. I watched the videos on the website, scheduled a meeting with Zach, and then read The Courage to Grow. I finally found what I didn’t know I was looking for. One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Albert Einstein: “Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”. This clearly aligns with Acton’s belief system.
While waiting for Acton Lincoln to open I was forced to figure out a homeschool ‘program’ that would fill the gap. In the beginning, it was a total nightmare for both Kash and I. Why? Because I was doing exactly what I was trying to protect him from. I had put up a copy of the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution on the wall behind his desk, and I was trying to force him to follow along the Hooked on Phonics program at a pace that I had pre-determined, rather than letting him work at his own pace. We were both miserable. And I was teaching him that learning is a negative experience. It was the opposite of what I wanted for him. So, I reflected back on “The Courage to Grow”, and decided to reframe things based on that book.
"I am truly grateful for what Acton has already done for our family, and I look forward to seeing what will come when Kash spends his days immersed in an environment that is designed to help him discover his inner genius."
The Declaration of Independence and U.S. Consitution were replaced with photos of him with friends and family, drawings that he created, and awards that he had earned. I even created a chart (at his request) that allowed him to track how much we had done that day and how much was left. I stopped following my own, arbitrary, pace of learning, and started following his lead.
Kash is now excited about reading, math, and most of all science. We have come to enjoy the time we spend learning together and I truly do owe that to Acton. Even though we haven’t “officially” started yet, Acton has already transformed our ideas of what learning should look like (more so than I expected going into all of this). I am truly grateful for what Acton has already done for our family, and I look forward to seeing what will come when Kash spends his days immersed in an environment that is designed to help him discover his inner genius.