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Private School in Malvern, PA

An Acton Academy mission is to support each child and parent who enters our door to embrace a Hero’s Journey, so they can find their passion and calling that will change the world.

Adaptive game based programs for core skills


Socratic discussions to strengthen critical thinking


Hands on real world projects


Life changing apprenticeships

We believe students learn by doing. Whether it’s launching a startup business, writing an Entomology rap, playing a musical instrument, planting a garden, or building a robot, Acton students are building real-life skills in the classroom every day.
We believe the learning experience is much richer when the teacher (“Guide”) offers insightful questions and facilitates hands-on learning. Guides use the Socratic method, always responding to students’ questions with new questions. This exchange hones students’ critical thinking skills. No boring sit in your desk teacher-led lecture-style learning at Acton!
Acton Academy is “student led.” This means young people take ownership of their education and peer relationships. Acton students learn to think independently, take responsibility and embrace challenge. They are being prepared to bring their own unique genius to the world.
Young heroes celebrate the mastery of tools, skills, and character by earning badges, assembling portfolios and taking part in public exhibitions.
Parents use badges to track academic progress in Core Skills like reading, writing, math, and spelling and character development in “Learn to Be” Badges.
Electronic and hard copy Portfolios capture rough drafts, photos, video and other creative work.
Public exhibitions at the end of most Quests allow young heroes to present work to experts, customers, or the public for a real world test.

ACton Academy

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”.
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.
A Learning Driven Community
For Lifelong Learners
We are excited to learn more about what YOU want for your family and if Nova Trails could be the right fit!
How To Apply