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MOVING FORWARD

Acton Academy Mesilla Valley

MOVING FORWARD

Laura Sandefer

July 13, 2012

This is not the blog I planned to write. Earlier today, we received the news that a dear family friend died tragically in an airplane accident. We sat and cried together for a long time. And then we talked about the beauty and fragility of life. Though the fog of sadness didn’t go away, the inspiration to go live the day to its fullest arose. And so we did.

One of the dreams I have for my children is this: They will be resilient and not lose hope when tragedy strikes. Because it will. It has.

This idea of resilience is built right into Acton Academy’s mission. If children understand what their purpose – calling – is then they will not be lost when life becomes murky. They will move forward.

Filtered down to daily living at home and at school, this means always knowing the “why” behind each activity, each project, each task. Why are we learning this? Why are we doing this?

William Damon in his book, The Path to Purpose says this: “In an extensive program of research the psychologist Bonnie Benard has shown that some children can bounce back from the most severe traumas and adversities. Children who respond resiliently to difficult circumstances have four key characteristics according to Benard: a sense of purpose (extended beyond the present to a future purpose); autonomy; social competence; and problem-solving skills. Of these four, I would designate sense of purpose as the most central, because it creates the motivation for the child to establish all the others.”

“Purpose” is one of the grounding forces in every decision we make at Acton. If the children don’t know what the ultimate purpose for their learning is, we will fail in our mission.

As a parent, this helps me keep out of the frivolous mentality of “because I say so.” A minor example for you: Sam wonders to me why making the bed is important when you just get back in it to mess it up. Good point, Sam. So we talk about what we do when grandparents come to spend the night. We make the guest bed for them. Why? Because they are our special guests and creating a nice space for them shows we care. Why not treat yourself like a favored guest? Making your bed is just a way to show you care about yourself.

The point is not to make your bed, please. My point simply is that if we give a “why” to the most basic “what” then things make more sense. Life has meaning.

Sometimes a purpose is clear; other times, nebulous. But that sense of seeking purpose for their learning and their lives will lead our children to find meaningful work, play and relationships without our guidance. They will spontaneously rise to the occasion in their lives; resolve their conflicts; and even overcome unimaginable tragedy.

As we fine-tune the curriculum for next year, we promise that we will not waste a moment of your child’s time at Acton Academy. Your children’s days with us will be filled with purpose.

Enjoy savoring precious time together this summer. (And remember, sleeping in and “having nothing to do” have their purposes. So does letting go of making the bed for a while.)

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Parent Resources

YOUR IDEA REALIZED?

Acton Academy Mesilla Valley

YOUR IDEA REALIZED?

Laura Sandefer

July 18, 2012

I love ideas. I used to play a game with myself when my children were toddlers. I would spend at least 15 minutes a day thinking of a new idea or invention. My list of unrealized ideas is impressive. I actually have an account on Edison Nation (www.edisonnation.com) to present my ideas for $20 each. If you make it through the 4 stage process and someone “buys” your idea and produces it, you get royalties. Sometimes I wait months to receive my final rejection. Jeff says I should just hand him $20 each time and be done with it.

The love of ideas is fun mental playtime. But ideas – even good ideas – are otherwise worthless in and of themselves.

“An idea upon which attention is peculiarly concentrated is an idea which tends to realize itself.” Charles Baudouin

I batted this quote around with Charlie and Sam over lunch today. We zeroed in on the word “peculiar.” What is “peculiar concentration?” Their conclusion: This is not normal focus! They agreed with Dr. Baudouin.

I have visions of Acton students walking around while reading and bumping into things because they just can’t put their books down. And students who spend all of their free time and core skills time for days on ST Math because they are laser-focused on their goals. This is great practice in peculiar concentration. Just think about how this will play out in the future when they apply unrelenting, peculiar focus on a really good idea or particular passion of their own.

What idea of yours lies waiting in the wings? Could summer be the time you get peculiar in your concentration? Be careful, though. You never know where such peculiarity may lead. One day Jeff and I had an idea to start a school…..

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Hero’s Journey

HERO IN OUR MIDST – HEATHER STAKER

HERO IN OUR MIDST – HEATHER STAKER

Laura Sandefer

July 5, 2012

If you haven’t had a chance to have a nice, long conversation with Heather Staker, you may want to add that to your “to do” list for this fall. (She’ll be a bit busy this summer as she welcomes her new baby into the world next week!)

While being the mom of four (soon to be five) curious, compassionate and generous children is enough to make her a hero, our own Heather Staker is looked to as one of our nation’s leaders in education innovation. Here is a glimpse of her bio:

“Heather Clayton Staker is a Senior Research Fellow for the education practice at Innosight Institute and a thought leader in the field of educational innovation.

Scholastic’s blog named Mrs. Staker as one of 5 people to watch in education in 2012 and her Innosight report “The rise of K-12 blended learning: Profiles of emerging models,” was listed by Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning one of the 11 most valuable reports for online learning policymakers and practitioners in 2011. She is a frequent keynote speaker at major education innovation conferences and has testified before state policymakers, including in Arizona, California, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Heather graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, with a concentration in Government. She received an MBA, with distinction, from Harvard Business School.”

I don’t make promises lightly; and I happily promise you that Heather’s recent blog post about Acton Academy will be of great interest to you. Enjoy:

http://www.innosightinstitute.org/education-blog/the-first-principle-of-blended-learning/

Thank you, Heather, for changing the world for good.

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