The Amazing Journey Academy Heroes


I have the power to take care of animals.


I have the power to help people with what they need.


I have the power to do math.


I have the power to be creative.


I have the power to tell the truth.


I have the power to be a leader.


I have the power to make good choices.


I have the power to listen to others.


I have the power to build anything I want.


I have the power to be nice.


I have the power to be kind to my friends.


I have the power to make my own choices.


I have the power to be kind and loving.


I have the power to love and care for others.


I have the power to

dance ballet.


I have the power to

be nice and sweet to people.

Our Journey Academy heroes never cease to amaze, even within just the first few days of the school year. From day one, the heroes were already making leaps and bounds in meeting their goals, setting high standards for themselves, and building their tribe.

Our new heroes quickly joined the Journey Academy Early Learners tribe in their resolve to put Jesus first, then Others, before Yourself, in order to find true JOY. They start each day with joyful worship jumping and dancing to their favorite worship songs. Then they rush to get their Bibles for they just can’t wait to dig into the Word and begin a Socratic discussion. But they remembered that they always start with prayer as they go around a much bigger circle of friends, yet everyone quietly and patiently listens to each hero’s heartfelt prayer. During the Socratic discussion, the heroes remind one another of their Hero’s contract, Hero’s journey, their call to action, and to have a growth mindset. And they surely put their words into action as they set their goals, focus on their core skills work, and celebrate when they meet their goals.

The young heroes were intrinsically motivated to navigate their way through their new studio independently. They demonstrated effective communication skills as they made their own introductions and eagerly shared the special contents of their boxes that open up to their own little worlds, with photos of their families, items from places they visited in the summer, their favorite toys or books, and even symbols to share their faith. Then the heroes made the transition on their own to dive right into their core skills work, independently setting goals and at the same time explaining the process including their purpose to other heroes.

The Early Learners went about their days encouraging one another, asking one another for help, offering assistance, proposing their ideas, compromising, and making decisions on their own, saying to one another:

“This is what I call teamwork!”

“I have an idea!”

”Let’s find a way.”

”What if we try…”

”We made a deal.”

”I need some help, please.”

”I can help!”

”We’ll help you.”

”Do you need help?”

”We need more people to help. More and more people. Can you help?”

”Remember, we’re a tribe!”

Our Week at a Glance

Tribe Building Quest

Week 1: 8/22 – 24




Bible verse

1 Thessalonians 1:3

Your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 1:4

God has chosen you

1 Thessalonians 1:5

Our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power with the Holy Spirit



Do you learn better by watching or doing? Listening or talking?


Hero’s contract JOY

ROE review, helpers

Hero’s journey

Draw my life

At this moment in time, what do is God calling you to do?

Growth mindset

What power has God given you?

Core skills

Hero’s contract signing

Shoebox sharing

Running buddies

Setting goals

Core skills materials

Hero pics

Hero’s badges

Writer’s workshop

Writing journal covers

 “Skit-tell” us something about you

Autographs, please!

All about my new friend

Play-based learning/PE

Play-based learning

Handprint and rock painting

Play-based learning



Running laps



Do you learn better on your own or when you work with others?

Do you think you would learn better if you figure out something on your own or when someone told you what to do?

Conflict resolution

Think of a time you were in a conflict. How did you resolve your issues?

Tribe building

“It takes two things to turn a group into a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” Seth Godin

What do you believe we need to focus on in our studio?

What is a tribe?

“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”

Seth Godin

Which is most important?

Does a tribe need a leader? What does the leader of the tribe do?

Project time

Cardboard house and castle

Cardboard boats

Get on the boat

All aboard the shrinking boat

Tug o’ war

Fort building


Review 3B4G

Studio maintenance

Do you learn better when your studio is neat or messy?

Establish studio maintenance system

Is it more important to have a clean studio or an organized studio?

Character call out

Why do we do character callouts?

How does it feel when someone thanks you for something good you did?

Week 2: 8/27 – 31






Bible verse

1 Thessalonians 1:6

You became imitators of the Lord.

How will you imitate Jesus?

1 Thessalonians 1:7

You became a model to all the believers

Who is your role model? What ways are you imitating your role model?

1 Thessalonians 1:8

Your faith in God has become known everywhere

1 Thessalonians 1:9

You turned to God to serve the living and true God

1 Thessalonians 1:10

Jesus rescues us.




Socratic discussion

Overarching question:

How does a hero balance faith and works?

Grit by Angela Duckworth

What do you believe helps you succeed? Talent or effort? Why?

Grit scale

Grit – animated book

What is your stretch goal? What is your purpose for your goal?

Ormie the Pig

How did Ormie try to reach his goals? In what ways have you tried many different strategies to reach your goals?

Grit character traits

Which character trait is most important to you?





What do you admire most about Kiwi? How did he show Grit? How did he persevere? In what ways can you be like Kiwi?

Using grit to succeed in school

What do you need to work on to develop grit?



Reading Buddies

Writer’s workshop


Writing journal


Writing folder

Add words to illustrations


Google doc

Spelling city

Typing club

Letter writing

Play-based learning/ PE


Group jump rope

Play-based learning


Play-based learning

Writer’s workshop

Play-based learning

Soft balls



Mr. Fox

Hide and seek tag


Tribe building

Why is it important to be part of a tribe?

What strategies are effective when sharing your ideas and communicating with your teammates?

Would you be more likely to take on a challenge when you are working on your own or in a group?

How does working with your team make you feel?




Think of a time you had to compromise with your teammates. Does this make you feel defeated or accomplished?

Project time

Fingertip hula hoop

Hoop pass

Team drawing

Team challenge

Down the line 

Team painting

Triangle tag

Across the pond




Group projects

Field day – kickball, relay races, three-legged race


What was the most challenging aspect of working together? What would you do differently next time?

How did you feel when you contributed to the team?

How does teamwork help you think creatively?

How did leadership develop in your team?

How did working as a team help you meet your goals?

How did you build stronger relationships with other heroes?

Building the Tribe

The first couple of weeks have been full of heroes getting to know one another and begin to understand the Journey Academy processes. Tribe Building has taken place each day in the afternoon. During one tribe building activity, the heroes decorated two blank puzzle pieces to represent how God has created each of them different. The heroes broke up into pairs. One was blindfolded while the other was guiding his/her partner to glue and stick their puzzle pieces together with the rest of the studio’s puzzle pieces onto the posterboard. Once completed, they switched roles.

During our debriefing, the heroes reflected. Here are some of the comments from that discussion:

  • Trying to follow your partner’s voice reminded me of what it is like when following God. Sometimes it can be difficult to hear His voice and know the way He is leading you.
  • We are all different.
  • Our puzzle isn’t perfect, just like we are not perfect.
  • This puzzle represents our tribe.
  • It reminds me of how we are the body of Christ and we all belong.

Tribe Building Pictures

The heroes have taken time to read Colossians 3 throughout the week. In that chapter, we read to do ALL things (whether in word or in deed) in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father. The heroes reflected on how they can do this within the studio and beyond the walls of the studio. They also decided to have a “God’s Word Board” to share what God is teaching them in His word, as well as have a “Prayer Board” to share prayer requests. These heroes have a desire to grow closer to their Savior!

More Tribe Building Pictures

Ask your hero:

  1. What some of the “Would You Rather” questions were that heroes came up with last week?
  2. What scenarios the heroes came up with for conflict resolution last week?
  3. What Fun Friday is?
  4. What Journey Tracker is?
  5. Why trust is important in a tribe?
  6. How many points a hero should achieve each week?
  7. What a Character Callout is?
  8. How to earn a Hero Buck?
  9. What a Chorus Prayer is?

Journey Academy Heroes

Five Things to Do Before the Acton Journey Begins Again

Written by Laura Sandefer and originally posted August 16, 2018

For Acton parents, a new school year feels a bit different from the traditional buzz and busy-ness of buying new school supplies, meeting teachers and figuring out the school’s system for picking kids up at the end of the day or checking them out for a dentist appointment.

As a mom of two Eagles, I experience the start of school as a quiet recognition of my own inner journey that requires courage and stillness amidst the bustle around me.

A new school year means saying “yes” once again to the call to adventure – to a hero’s journey that includes facing my fears, digging deeply to discover my innate gifts and showing up with authenticity to connect to others…just as my children will be called to do each day.

It means remembering my children are created to do amazing things (beyond my expectations and projections) and for them to thrive, I must trust them with freedom and responsibility.

There are five things I do that put me in the right frame of mind to begin a new year:

Re-read Unschooling Rules by Clark Aldrich and Ethic of Excellence by Ron Berger. Quick, powerful, punchy reads that remind me why I started this journey.
Watch this video on the hero’s journey. We are gearing up for an adventure. Not for sitting in a classroom.
Have a family meeting to re-boot our family plan and create a new rallying cry for the fall season. We’re in this together. We are all growing and learning. We need each other.
Read and re-commit to the Acton Parent Contract and supporting documents. These documents are for my own self-discipline. They gird me for the struggles that are bound to come in the journey this year. Reflecting on them helps me remember why the communication protocol between parents and guides exists – to push power to my children so they are equipped to make good choices, solve problems and stretch beyond just learning information but learning how to be in relationship with others and themselves. Reading the contract reminds me to focus on listening, waiting and asking questions rather than getting ready to pounce defensively when a problem arises. I want my children to know I trust them.
Get my calendar out and mark the parent meetings and monthly parent coffees on campus. They are listed in the Family Handbook and on the Acton Google calendar. The more I am in the studios and connected to the Acton community, the more excited I am as I see the mission unfolding in my own children’s lives and the other lives around me. It’s real.
Then, I can exhale, ready to say goodbye to summer and start a new year feeling strong. I’m almost ready. Almost.

High Tech, High Touch Learning

Written by Laura Sandefer and originally posted August 8, 2018

My favorite observation about the Acton Academy learning environment came from one of the nation’s education experts. After a morning of observing the Eagles at work, he said it was a “high tech, high touch” school.

You can see it and feel it: the emphasis on human relationship is tangible in an Acton studio. This is the messy but happy feel of humans honestly being together.

No one can hide under the radar at an Acton Academy. No one can slip through the cracks. No one can go a day without being noticed, engaged with and known. Every single young person is vitally important in our community and each learns quickly it is only through human relationships that we grow into our best selves.

Yes, there is online learning. Yes, there are laptops scattered around. Yes, we track learning data online and use email to document communication.

But the tech experience pales in comparison to the buzz of human interaction – verbal, non-verbal and physical – happening in every moment of studio life.

It starts with a handshake, eye contact and a hearty smile when a child steps onto campus each day. And ends with “character callouts” in a group circle with claps and high fives at the end of a day. Throughout the day it is seen in Socratic discussions, squad meetings, peer feedback sessions, conflict resolutions and free play.

The intensive learning to be a highly functioning human in relationship with others is a focus at Acton Academy. From problem-solving to reflecting on goals and from managing a team project to receiving peer feedback – it’s all in a day.

This is “learning how to be” and “learning how to do.” In my opinion, it is this learning that makes me feel secure about my own children’s futures.

Experts call these skills “soft.” I call them foundational. And the Acton Eagles who graduate from our studios have them in spades.

Acton parents, you can exhale when you finish reading this article.

I couldn’t be more excited to get back into our high tech, high touch studios. See you in a couple of weeks.