Nicole Spencer, Parent/Cofounder

Nicole’s passion for education comes from attending an alternative elementary school as a child. That experience nurtured in her a lifelong love of learning, something she believes comes naturally to children and that schools should encourage and protect. Nicole is certified as an AMI Montessori primary and elementary assistant and has also worked in tech startups, marketing, public policy, and international development. She has degrees from Georgetown University and the University of Chicago. Learn more about Nicole on LinkedIn.


David Kirby, Parent/Cofounder

David is a Montessori school alumnus who has never stopped being a student in his varied career. He founded Acton DC because he believes that school should be a place where children discover and learn to apply their strengths. David has led organizations and pursued innumerable side projects in politics, policy analysis, and development. He has degrees from Bates College and Harvard University. Learn more about David on LinkedIn.

Rachel Davison Humphries

Rachel Davison Humphries, Advisor and Guide

Rachel is a passionate Montessori educator, an experienced Acton guide, and a lifelong learner. She has a profound respect for children and delights in their innate curiosity about ideas. Rachel was part of the founding of Acton Academy in Austin, TX. Most recently, Rachel served as the lead middle school guide for Acton Academy Guatemala. Previously, she was the lead math and science teacher at Oak Farm Montessori School in Indiana and an adolescent instructor at Austin Montessori School. She is a certified AMI adolescent Montessori teacher and she has a degree from St. John’s College. Learn more about Rachel on LinkedIn.


Madeleine Emerald, Inspiration

Nicole and David are proud parents of Madeleine Emerald, born February 2014. She, like all children, is full of potential that her parents want to nurture and guide, and they want her school to do the same. Madeleine is the inspiration behind Acton DC.

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Laura Sandefer, Advisor

Laura is cofounder and head of school of Acton Academy (Austin). Raised by a science teacher and minister, Laura lived on both coasts and in between as a child and then landed at Vanderbilt University for her undergraduate studies in the College of Arts and Science.

After working in London and New York City in the aviation insurance business, Laura yearned to follow her heart into the world of teaching. She went back to Vanderbilt's renowned Peabody College and received her Master of Education. This led her to work in arts education at the Oklahoma Arts Institute. Laura later married Jeff Sandefer and has two sons and a stepdaughter. It is the inspiration of these children that led Laura and Jeff to cofound Acton Academy.

Her greatest hero is her beloved late mother, who was a master teacher as none other. Her wisest mentor is her father, who sent her off to college with two words of advice: "Be curious."


Jeff Sandefer, Advisor

Jeff is an entrepreneur and a Socratic teacher. As an entrepreneur, he began by starting his first company at age 16 and most recently sold Sandefer Capital, an energy investment firm with several billion dollars in assets.

As a teacher, he cofounded the Acton School of Business, a school dedicated to America’s next generation of principled entrepreneurs and famous for its 100-hour work weeks. The Princeton Review has consistently ranked Acton’s teachers, students, and program among the best in the country. While at the University of Texas, Jeff’s students voted him the school’s Most Outstanding Teacher five times, and he was named by Businessweek as one of the top entrepreneurship professors in America. He also cofounded Acton Academy (Austin), where he is a middle school lead guide.

Jeff has been a longtime board member of National Review, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, The Philanthropy Roundtable, and the Harvard Business School and is one of the youngest members ever elected to the Texas Business Hall of Fame.