• Experience how Acton is transforming education in this independent, award-winning documentary.

  • Our Story

    Why did we start an Acton Academy in El Salvador?

    With Laura & Jeff Sandefer, founders of Acton Academy

    March 2016 in Austin, Texas


    Three years ago, we found a school that changed our lives. Dissatisfied with the options in San Salvador, we had taken our children out of a traditional school and were homeschooling, but we wanted a community of thriving, enthusiastic learners to join us.


    After doing a lot of research and experimentation, we began to meet with other families who were looking to equip their children with skills for the 21st century in a loving, healthy and authentic environment.


    In October, 2015, we met the founder of Acton Academy Guatemala. Over a two hour conversation, he described the learning environment we had always wanted for our children. We applied for the license, completed the initial training and opened our doors in July, 2016 with just 20 children. Two years later, we have almost tripled in size and now have a waiting list in two of our studios.


    Our children are happy and healthy and are developing skills for a lifetime of learning and purpose.

    Our Team

  • Our Team

    We've got a top notch team!

    Shannon Falkenstein, M.A.

    Founder and Executive Director

    Shannon Falkenstein is the Founder and Head of School of Acton Academy & Montessori, a Montessori Preschool - Grade 8 (and growing!) independent school in San Salvador, El Salvador. Acton Academy has been hailed by the US Education Secretary as a leading example of education innovation.


    Shannon’s background blends education, coaching, technology and business in multicultural environments. She studied at Visitation Academy, in St. Louis, Missouri, then went on to earn a B.S. in Biological Anthropology and Human Biology from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1994, she moved to Denver, Colorado to work at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center managing a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to help reduce the impact of substance abuse in Native Alaskan and American Indian populations, where she learned early internet technologies. In 1996, Shannon was recruited as Communications Officer on a world-wide, cross-cultural internet technology project for UBS in Basel, Switzerland. In 2000, Shannon signed on with Deloitte Consulting in New York City to lead a large-scale internet project at Goldman Sachs.


    After eye-witnessing the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, Shannon decided to seek more meaning and joined Americorps as a Program Director at New York Cares, establishing their Youth Service Program in New York City public schools. In 2005, she earned her M.A. in Secondary Science Education at New York University and began teaching science in NYC public schools.


    In 2008, Shannon and her husband, David Falkenstein, moved to San Salvador to start a family. Shannon established Falkenstein Prep, a Test Prep and College Coaching business that helped hundreds of Salvadoran students gain entrance into US universities. At the same time, she studied with Martha Beck to become a professional life coach, working with individuals and teams in many Salvadoran companies.


    In 2011, the Falkensteins began building El Salvador's first microbrewery, Cadejo Brewing Company, which opened in 2013 and is now Central America's largest craft brewery.


    When their two children reached school age, Shannon and David realized that the traditional school system was not fomenting the skills needed to be entrepreneurial, virtuous and competent in the technological age. They wanted to offer them an education that preserved their curiosity and spirit while developing key skills such as entrepreneurship, collaboration, communication, intellectual honesty and creativity.


    In 2015 they discovered the Acton Academy model and, along with Carmen Castro Dárdano, founded Acton Academy & Montessori El Salvador, the 14th Acton Academy affiliate in the world.

    Carmen Castro Dárdano

    Director of Montessori

    Carmen Castro Dárdano

    Director of Montessori

    Carmen Castro Dárdano

  • "My daughter started at Acton this year and absolutely loves it!

    She is in charge of her own learning in a warm and supportive environment.

    Acton is at the cutting edge of how education should be transforming for the future and it is so exciting to have this here in El Salvador!"