Experience how Acton is transforming education in this independent, award-winning documentary.

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Our Story

When I became a parent, one of the things I most looked forward to was experiencing my child’s school years: their first day of school, watching them play on team sports, dressing up for picture day, joining them on field trips, etc.

So when my husband expressed that he preferred our children be homeschooled, I felt many emotions: sadness, loss, fear, anxiety. “How will my children have an interactive and exciting school experience? How was I going to pursue my own interests if I suddenly became a homeschool mom?” After a lot of research, I came to the same realization as my husband. That realization was simple: public school was not the educational setting in which I wanted our children to learn. I tried hard to get onboard with the homeschool mindset as our daughter’s kindergarten year quickly approached, but I still felt so much doubt. “Could I do this? Did I even want to do it?”

In the Spring of 2020, we met a kind family at a local swimming hole in our community. After talking with the mom, I learned she was a homeschool mom who was working on opening a school for her children and others. After hearing more about the philosophy of the school, I was hooked! It turned out the school her husband and she were opening was an Acton Academy, and we were to be their first founding family. Susan and James Gardiner successfully launched Acton Academy Amador in September of 2020. This finally brought an alternative education option to our small county - one that prioritizes children’s interests and natural abilities, all while nurturing each young person’s individual genius as they work to find their calling and change the world.

With the Gardiners boldly journeying to New England, my family and I are thrilled to take ownership of Acton Academy Amador. We deeply believe in educating young people through “learning to be, learning to do and learning to learn”. We believe each child is a genius, just waiting to discover their own unique calling. We have seen this ideology work with our own young daughter and look forward to sharing this innovative learning experience with the rest of Amador County!

The Adams Family
(Jared, Brooklynn, Amelia & Declan)

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Our Team

Brooklynn Adams
Co-Owner, Head of Programs

Brooklynn was born and raised in Northern California and has called Amador County her home since 2018. After finishing a traditional educational experience, which concluded with earning a BA from Sacramento State University, she began working on the administrative side of higher education. Brooklynn greatly enjoyed working on both the Davis and Berkeley campuses of the University of California, especially during her time working with international students. Since moving to Amador, Brooklynn has been a stay-at-home mom to her two children, and an Acton parent for one year. She is super excited to become even more involved in Acton Amador and bring this awesome alternative education option to more local families!

Jared Adams
Co-Owner

Jared knew he wanted to be an artist since childhood. He was fortunate to have supportive parents, a teacher who believed in him, and a real talent for the arts. Though his public school education was difficult a lot of the time, a high school art teacher took him under her wing and gave him the courage to follow his passion. After a stint in art school, Jared entered the professional world of graphic design and hasn’t looked back. He feels fortunate to have a career based on his love of art and wants his children to have the opportunity to discover and develop their own talents and passions starting at a young age. He is excited to support his wife in operating Acton Academy Amador as well as contributing his graphic design skills to the school.

Jeff Sandefer
Advisor and Acton Academy Co-Founder

Jeff Sandefer lives a dual life as an entrepreneur and a Socratic Guide. As an entrepreneur, he founded his first company at age 16 and went on to found or co-found seven successful businesses. As a Socratic teacher at the University of Texas, Jeff’s students five times voted him the school’s Outstanding Teacher and Businessweek named him one of the top Entrepreneurship professors in America.

Jeff went on to co-found the Acton School of Business, an MBA program perennially ranked by the Princeton Review among the best in the nation. In 2012 The Economist honored him as one of the top fifteen Business School professors in the world.

Jeff is a graduate of the Harvard Business School, where he served for over twenty years on the school’s governing committees. He was a longtime director of the Philanthropy Roundtable and National Review magazine and one of the youngest members ever elected to the Texas Business Hall of Fame.

Laura Sandefer
Advisor and Acton Academy Co-Founder

Laura lived on both US coasts and in between as a child, then settled into Vanderbilt University for her undergraduate studies in the College of Arts and Science. After being awarded the highly competitive Walter Wattles Fellowship at Lloyd’s of London, Laura worked in the aviation insurance industry in New York City.

Deciding to follow her calling into the world of education, Laura returned to Nashville and earned her Master of Education at Peabody College. This led her to her work at the Oklahoma Arts Institute, creating fine arts education programs for teachers and talented high school students.

Laura married Jeff Sandefer and is the happy mother of Sam and Charlie and step-mother to Taite. It is the inspiration of these children that led Laura and Jeff to co-found Acton Academy.

Her greatest hero is her mother who was a Master Teacher. Her wisest mentor is her father who sent her off to college with two words of advice: "Be curious."

"The thought of a learning environment that incorporates active learning, includes all the senses, and emphasizes a pursuit personalized to your individual gifts, sounds amazing. What kid doesn't deserve that?"

Our promises to your child

They will:

  • Begin a Hero's Journey
  • Learn to be a curious, independent, lifelong learner.
  • Develop a deep respect for economic, political and religious freedoms.
  • Cherish the arts, wonders of the physical world and the mysteries of life on Earth.
  • Discover his or her most precious gifts and learn to use them to solve difficult problems.
  • Understand the importance of strong character.
  • Value a healthy lifestyle of mind and body.

Our Beliefs

We believe each child has a gift that can change the world in a profound way

We believe in a closely connected family of lifelong learners

We believe in learning by knowing, learning by doing and learning by being.

We believe in economic, religious, and political freedom.