"People who instinctively establish a strong network of relationships have always created great businesses."
- Keith Ferrazzi
Over the past two years I've read a ton of books on education, done research, gone to conferences, listen to podcasts and TED talks, and connected with other homeschool families all for the purpose of figuring out the best way to educate my kids. So now that I've got it somewhat figured out and am really happy with our homeschool journey, why start a school that may add pressure to a lifestyle we worked so hard to create? Specifically, why an affiliate of Acton Academy, why not start our own school?
There are many reasons, but one part of this is to build from the strength of what is already there and the strength of the network of Acton Academies.
Build On, But Not Reinvent, The Wheel
We wanted to build on, not reinvent, the wheel. So much of what Laura and Jeff Sandefer created at Acton Academy is amazing, but some things I would do differently. They are both very intelligent and driven people, Jeff has a Harvard MBA if that gives you any indication, and I strongly believe in learning from others. Take the best of what those before you have done and modify it as necessary, making it even better (or at least better for your purposes). Acton Academy is not about cloning a school; it's about taking the model, holding true to the main beliefs and mission, but implementing it in a way that matches your beliefs and community needs. In fact, one of the questions on the application to start an Acton Academy is "what are 3 ways your school will be different from Acton Academy Austin?" showing that they encourage you to bring your own ideas and do things differently.
But learning from what they created is just the tip of the iceberg. There are approximately 140 Acton Academies open with an additional 60+ school set to launch in the next year (there were over 12,000 applicants to get to these 200, our Kennebunkport Acton included). It's a group of very intelligent, motivated people with a shared set of values that wholeheartedly believe this is the best for their children so are willing to shift their entire lives to start a school. This network is incredible and something that we wanted to be able to tap into.
Founder of Fastest Growing Acton in Country
This summer, we had just that opportunity. While we were in California it happened that we were about 45 mins from the fastest growing Acton, Acton Academy Placer County, and founder, Matt Beaudreau, was extremely open and accommodating to meet with us. I was really excited about this opportunity to speak with Matt because I loved his message. I had watched his TEDx talk (highly recommend checking out the link below) and not only agreed with the message, but liked the fact that he gave that speech before he had an affiliation to any school, although he briefly mentions The Sudbury School and Acton Academy (for no personal gain, unbiased). It's definitely worth the 10 minutes to listen!
We met with Matt at their new permanent campus, which was amazing and not even completely set up yet. He spent over 3 hours talking to Mike and I about Acton simply to help us on our journey. It wasn't going to benefit him in anyway, but he was completely present, not in a rush, and could not have been nicer. He explained what worked for them and things that they would have done differently. He was completely open in order to help us; he encouraged us to keep the integrity of our vision and to always maintain a very high standard. It was such a pleasure to meet and connect with Matt, not only to realize the power of the Acton affiliate network, but also to truly gain a friend.
Always Improve To Provide Best Education
There is so much to be learned from this network of founders and it's a great way to make sure we, at Acton Academy Kennebunkport, are always looking to improve to provide the best education for our students. Continually learning and moving forward. It's wonderful to be a part of a network that shares the belief of "get it to give it", which is not only what we look to do with those who come after us, but also a concept we want to model for our students. After all, as Zig Ziglar says, "You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want."
Happy Friday everyone!