• Frequently Asked Questions

    What is Acton Academy?

    Acton Academy was originally started in 2009 in Austin, Texas by Laura and Jeff Sandefer. For their children, they wanted to instill a love for learning, an ability to think critically and the courage to follow their own hearts - rather than the traditional model that focuses on memorization, obedience and standardized testing.


    The Sandefers researched the most cutting-edge, evidence-based, most effective, efficient and engaging ways of learning, looking to Heroes such as Maria Montessori, Salman Khan and Sugatra Mitra. They took the best of what they found and combined it into an intentional community of self-directed learners who believe life is more a Hero's Journey than just a career path.


    The Acton model in Austin was so successful that they decided to allow other families to replicate it to serve their own children. There are now more than 110 Actons world-wide. Acton Academy & Montessori El Salvador was the 14th.

    Why is the name "Acton"? What does that mean?

    Lord John Acton was an English thinker, philosopher and writer in the 19th Century. He wrote extensively about the corrupting influence of power and about the critical importance of freedom in any just and functional society. You can learn more about him and his work, here. 

    Are you accredited in the United States?

    Yes. We are fully accredited in the USA by the International Association of Learner-Driven Schools in Austin, Texas. You can view our accreditation certificate here.

    Are you accredited by the Ministry of Education in El Salvador (MINED)?

    Not yet. We are in the process of fulfilling the various governmental requirements to gain the approval of MINED. One of these requirements is to move to a commercial zone, which we plan to do in the future.


    Here you can find a document that explains how Acton Academy & Montessori El Salvador can support your child if he or she decides to attend a different primary or secondary school or when he or she decides to apply to university or other higher education, either in El Salvador or outside the country.

    How do I know if Acton is right for our family?

    Each family is unique, though there are some similarities we've seen between the families who are happiest and most successful in this model. Check out this list on our Admissions page.


    We encourage families to be intentional about their decision to apply to Acton! Please read our site and other materials, watch the videos, read the books, and come for a tour.


    Our ideal family truly understands and appreciates the value of Montessori and Acton, is ready to commit to a learner-driven education for life, places the highest priority on their child's education, and foments positivity, perseverance, independence and respect in their children.

    What resources do you have for children with special needs?

    We are a small school with limited resources and none of our Guides are trained as special education teachers. At the same time, we believe that every child who enters our doors is a genius who is destined to change the world. We have welcomed children with differences - and we find that, when young people are expected to approach their challenges with a growth mindset, to take responsibility for themselves and to find their own tools and best practices to manage their lives, they are virtually unstoppable. If you are unsure if your child would thrive at Acton, please come for a tour and/or begin our extensive application process.

    What is Montessori? Is Acton a Montessori school?

    The Montessori Method of education was developed by the Italian physician, Maria Montessori, and has been considered a superior education for over 100 years in many parts of the world. Montessori is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children. It is characterized by self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. In Montessori classrooms children make creative choices in their learning, while the classroom and the highly trained teacher offer age-appropriate activities to guide the process. Children work in groups and individually to discover and explore knowledge of the world and to develop their maximum potential. For a deeper exploration of Montessori, please click here.


    There are several other high-quality Montessori pre-schools in San Salvador. Currently, Acton Academy & Montessori is the only bilingual school offering the Montessori environment past pre-school.


    We offer a pure Montessori environment from 18 months through first grade. From second grade on, we offer the Acton Academy methodology, which was established in Austin, Texas in 2009 and is highly similar to Montessori (freedom within constraints, mixed-age classrooms, guides not teachers, hands-on projects) with some key differences. You can learn more about Acton Academy on our site or by clicking here.

    What grades levels do you offer?

    For the 2019-2020 school year, Acton is currently accepting applications from children from 0 - 13 years old (8th grade). In August 2020, we plan to open our high school studio for current Acton students.


    What is your calendar and daily schedule?

    Similar to a traditional school, Acton begins at 8:15am and finishes at 3:15pm, Monday through Friday. We chose a later start date to prioritize sleep and reduce the amount of time families spend in traffic.


    Our school year runs from mid-August to late June, but our flexible program allows families to travel together during the year, without sacrificing any learning.


    For K-8th grade, the school calendar is based on a series of 5- to 6-week project sprints called "Quests", each with a theme – like Rockets, Robots, Medical Biology, or Detective Chemistry. Each Quest is a grand adventure, culmintating in a high-stakes public Exhibition for family, friends and local experts.


    Seven 5- to 6-week sessions, followed by 1 to 2 weeks off to refuel and for holidays, make up the school year.


    We also offer a Preschool Play Camp and a MAKERcamp for 3 weeks every July and a Christmas Camp each December, which are great opportunities to see if your family is a great fit at Acton.

    What is a mixed-age classroom?

    We believe that children learn best when working with children younger and older than themselves rather than split up into groups based solely on age. In addition to individualized curriculum, all ages of students work together in groups to develop the key skills of communication and collaboration.

    How diverse is Acton?

    We know that diversity provides the greatest opportunity for creativity, discovery and connection. Our community is diverse in our thoughts, cultures, abilities, languages, experiences, beliefs and all other aspects of life and humanness. Acton tolerates all viewpoints, and invites everyone to freely exchange ideas while cherishing and respecting our relationships with one another.

    What kind of learner thrives at Acton?

    Kids who love to learn, are curious, self-motivated, and respectful. Our environment is an accelerator for the independent learner who can tackle challenging questions, follow instructions (not orders) and solve problems.

    Do you offer scholarships?

    We have a limited budget for scholarships. If you are interested in a scholarship, please let us know in your application.


    If you would like to contribute to Acton's scholarship fund, please let us know. We are eager to share this opportunity with as many highly qualified applicants as possible.

    What do you mean by a "Hero's Journey"?

    We believe that each of us has a special calling in life, and a series of trials and tests that must be faced with integrity and purpose in order to live a satisfying and fulfilled life. Our mission is to prepare your child for his or her special journey. Here is a great video that explains the Hero's Journey archetype.