KENNEBUNK — On Aug. 27, at 5 p.m., Acton Academy, along with parents and community members, will celebrate the culmination of a vision the Stack family had for a new form of education in the community. The ceremony will take place at the new Acton Academy, located behind the Waterhouse Center in Downtown Kennebunk at 5 Nasons Court, No. 10 (old pharmacy space).

Two years ago, the Stack family began homeschooling their four children, now ages 6, 7, 9, and 10, not because they were unhappy with the public schools, but because they wanted something different for their family.

“We began homeschooling because we wanted to instill our values, give our children time to run and be free, to be outside, to experience and learn from the real world around them, and simply to spend time as a family,” said Kori Stack. She has a masters in education and is the head of school at the new Acton Academy.

Kori Stack Courtesy photo

“What amazed us almost immediately was how creative our kids were and how much they could do on their own. It was really eye-opening. It proved to us that kids do have a natural desire to learn, and it happens very naturally if we take a step back, let them make mistakes, and figure things out on their own,” said Stack.

The decision to open a new elementary school came after Stack learned about Acton Academy from the book “Courage to Grow,” written by Laura Sandefer. Her reaction was, ‘Could this be even better? Could it challenge our kids in an amazing way? And could it help not only our kids, but other like-minded families in our community?’

On Sept. 8 of this year, Acton Academy in downtown Kennebunk will open, focusing on grades 1 -5, with a few kindergarteners. There are currently only seven spots open as the Stacks are intentionally capping the studio at 18 to begin their first year. The school will later expand to include middle school and high school grades.

Acton Academy in downtown Kennebunk is a part of the Acton Academy network of schools. The first Acton Academy was founded in 2009 in Austin, Texas, as a solution for one family, and there are now over 200 schools across the US, Canada, and the world; a number that will rise to 250-plus in 20-plus countries by the fall of 2020.

“What I love about Acton is the incredible network of schools to share and learn from, but it’s not about being identical. Each Acton shares the same set of core beliefs, implementing them in unique ways that fit their particular community. For example, we will prioritize a connection with nature by students spending one full day each week immersed in nature at an off-site location. It’s not about creating Acton-clones; it’s about providing freedom within a framework of proven methodologies,” Stack said.

Learner Driven Micro School

Acton Academy is described as a learner-driven micro-school and is accredited through the International Association of Learner Driven Schools. The core philosophy of the school is that each child is a genius who can change the world. The goal of the learning-design is for each child to discover their unique talents, the types of tasks they enjoy, and practical experience to understand where these talents and passions can be used in the real world.

Features of the Acton Academy learning design include:

The latest in educational technology for self-paced mastery of reading, writing, and math skills.

Deep Socratic discussions about heroes, history, and self-governance to hone critical thinking skills and the ability to powerfully think, write and speak.

Hands-on project-based Quests to master the tools and skills needed to solve problems in the real world.

Student agreed upon written promises and covenants that form a tightly bound community of individuals learning to form authentic friendships and honestly resolve interpersonal problems.

Children of mixed ages learn together in the same classroom. Teachers act as guides instead of lecturers.

Students engage with and learn from nature with a guide knowledgeable and passionate about the natural world.

Acton students will be independent learners (with guardrails and guidance as age-appropriate) who find great joy in learning, in a tight-knit community that upholds the highest standards of excellence.

For more information about Acton Academy in downtown Kennebunk, visit https://actonkennebunkport.org. To register for the upcoming information session on Thursday, Aug. 20, at 5 p.m., visit the website.