Acton Elementary

Acton Elementary for grades 1 to 6 combines Montessori principles with Socratic discussions and entrepreneurial projects, like the Acton Children’s Business Fair.

Beginning in 2020, we will add a grade per year to build Acton Middle and High School programs.

Acton Elementary Curriculum
A tight-knit, mixed-age, learner-driven community

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Acton Academy of Washington, DC, binds students together in a tight-knit, mixed-age, learner-driven community. Each student at Acton is in charge of his or her own learning. With the foundation of Montessori principles and the metaphor of the entrepreneurial journey, Acton uses educational materials, frameworks, tools, and technology that allow children to master subjects and concepts themselves, on their own timeline. Students commit to holding themselves and each other to high standards. They learn self-governance by running the classroom.

Our classrooms have guides, not traditional teachers. Guides use the Socratic method—asking questions instead of providing all the answers—to help students take ownership of their education. We encourage our students to try, fail, and try again, going at their own pace without fear or shame, knowing that this is the very entrepreneurial process that will form character and build perseverance, knowledge, and mastery. The Acton curriculum focuses on:

  • Learning to Learn—Montessori-style independent learning adapted to the 21st century that prizes curiosity, discovery, creativity, and joy in work, from core skills like reading and math, to science and civilization.

  • Learning to Do—Literally learning by doing, from the Acton Children’s Business Fair of Washington, DC, to project-based quests, to curriculum-integrated apprenticeships in the real world at an early age.

  • Learning to Be—Developing the habits of character, such as hard work, integrity, courage, persistence, and grit, as well as kindness, grace, and courtesy. These traits are critical ingredients for a fulfilling and entrepreneurial life.

Starting in elementary school, children go out into the real world and explore their interests. In middle and high school, students seek apprenticeships with real entrepreneurs at real businesses.

The Entrepreneurial Journey at Acton
Cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset

Acton Academy is grounded in trusting children and believing they can handle big responsibilities.
— Laura Sandefer, Acton Academy cofounder; author of Courage to Grow

Acton students aim to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset. This mindset is not about starting a business per se. Rather, Acton uses the entrepreneurial journey as a metaphor for children to think about their educational adventure. It is a lifelong orientation toward themselves and the world, a way of discovering their unique gifts, talents, and passions and then developing the habits of mind, character, and behavior that allow them to chase down their dreams with energy and joy.

One of the more unique features of Acton is project-based quests. Quests challenge students to do something, build something, and test something in fields as diverse as history, chemistry, poetry, art, physics, electronics, and programming. Acton quests feel like a heroic adventure. And rather than simply taking a test, Acton students prove their learning through exhibitions in the real world. 


For instance, starting in elementary school, Acton Academy students complete an eight-week “Entrepreneurship Quest.” The quest begins as a fun game, where children seek to find and create a business that is right for them. Acton students learn about themselves and what they love. Then, they test their mettle by launching a real business and selling to real customers at the Acton Children’s Business Fair of Washington, DC. 

In middle school and high school, Acton students are challenged to reflect more deeply on the meaning of the entrepreneurial mindset in their lives, for instance grappling with the question “Are extraordinary opportunities discovered or created?” Students explore different entrepreneurial archetypes, and—critical to the Acton model—every Acton student supplements his or her work with apprenticeships outside the classroom, working alongside real entrepreneurs at their real businesses.

Discover Your Calling at Acton
Who am I? Where am I going? 


Acton students are active learners. Our expectations are high and at the same time realistic for the world we live in now. We encourage our students to think of themselves as the agents and primary drivers of their learning, the entrepreneurs of their own education and life calling.

In this way, Acton invites children to explore the most important questions: “Who am I? Where am I going? How do my passions and talents connect with the world around me? How can I serve a great need and even change the world?” 

At Acton, it’s not just about getting into college, or finding a job, or even starting a career. It’s about discovering something deeper, more meaningful. It’s about discovering a calling.


Tuition Information

Find out more about our tuition.