According to Webster's Dictionary genius is defined as "a person who has a level of talent or intelligence that is very rare or remarkable".
While a measure of someone's Intelligence Quotient (or IQ) may indicate one form of genius, it is far from the only measure. Genius exists in each one of us, but it is displayed in drastically different ways, making each of us unique. This is not only necessary for society to function, but also makes life a whole lot more interesting.
Growing up my sister and I were about as different as night and day, I was in honors classes and she was in the more remedial level classes; I knew how to "do" school and liked it, she hated it. By societal standards I was successful at what mattered, traditional school subjects: Math, Science, English, History, etc. But while she may not have been able to demonstrate her ability in a traditional school, she is a genius. She absolutely astonishes me with her ability to remember things; from random facts about people to technical prescription names; but where her genius lies is in her ability to relate to the sick and/or elderly. It is truly incredible how calm, kind, compassionate she is and how she thinks of nothing else when she is caring for them, talking with them for hours. It is definitely a rare talent and one that is so incredibly important. In a society where community and personal connection is lacking, this kind of genius is even that much more important.
Yet growing up she did not have confidence. As Albert Einstein (debatably) said, "Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid." This is exactly how she felt, she was made to feel worthless at school and grew up with that belief, which hindered her ability to find this genius and use it to its fullest potential. She is someone who will never know her value because so many of the people that she helps don't have the capacity to show her, but she is without a doubt making the world a better place by the genius she possesses.
So how does this have to do with Acton Academy? I am passionate about starting a school where students are supported in an environment that celebrates genius demonstrated in infinite ways, not by a singular description of success.
Our mission is for each person who enters our doors to find their unique calling that changes the world in a special way. Each student at Acton Academy is on their own unique 'Hero's Journey' (first coined by Joseph Campbell).
"Our young people at Acton are learning that courage, grit, and perseverance matter far more than regurgitating facts."
- Jeff Sandefer, co-founder of Acton Academy
We believe that each of us has a special calling in life, and a series of trials and test must be faced with integrity and purpose in order to live a satisfying and fulfilled life. Our mission is to prepare each young hero at Acton for their special journey. It is not our job to give them answers, but to support, encourage, and challenge them along the way.
We want to equip them with a solid knowledge base of core skills and instill a love of reading, as books are great teachers. We want to let them explore nature and their passions. We want to connect them with everyday heroes, as mentors are vital in a Hero's Journey. And then let them try on different hats through apprenticeships, which start in 6th grade and continue all the way through high school. Apprenticeships allow students to see if a particular path "fits", or not, before spending years unknowingly going down it.
A Hero's Journey is a life of self-discovery, which can only be accomplished through trials where you let go of the 'self-protective ego'; letting go of fears (allowing yourself to fail) for a higher level of thinking that serves others (Campbell). Each of us is on our own Hero's Journey and parenting may be the biggest of them all, which has led me to opening Acton Academy Kennebunkport. It's not the easy path. It's hard, I have to face my fears, let go of my own 'self-protective ego', and there will definitely be bumps in the road...but it's also so exciting to serve our community (and my own children) by creating an incredible educational alternative. While not right for everyone, so perfect for others.
Amazing things are going to happen at Acton Academy Kennebunkport and I can't wait!
So the only question left is...What does your Hero's Journey look like?