ELKO – For a busy ranch family, flexibility is a necessity, especially with children approaching school-age.
So, when Angie Heguy learned about Acton Academy and its hands-on learning and independent-based curriculum, she dived in wholeheartedly – first as a parent and then as a facilitator for Acton of the Rubies.
“It’s a great match for myself and my family,” Heguy said of the independent home-school program that meets not only academic goals, but builds community and entrepreneurial skills in children.
“It’s self-directed. The children can progress on their own in a one-room schoolhouse setting, helping each other along the way and becoming stronger in different areas,” Heguy explained.
This fall, Acton of the Rubies launches as a nonprofit affiliate of Acton Academy with about 10 students registered in the Elko area. Heguy will serve as a point of contact for resources and as a support to parents signed up in the education program.
According to Acton of the Rubies’ website, children will develop skills in ESTEAM – entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, agriculture and arts, and math – by participating in student-driven learning methods, critical thinking, and hands-on projects, or “quests,” in art, business and science.
Using Acton’s Learner Driven Community model, the academy fosters learning through creating and maintaining personal goals that are looking ahead to the child’s future as an adult.
“The students are working toward ultimately gaining apprenticeships by portfolio-building now,” Heguy explained. “They will be working on their skills in a field they are passionate about [and present it] to a person in that field.”
Heguy cited the first children’s business fair in May as an example of Acton’s method of allowing a child to explore his or her curiosity by developing a concept and bringing it to the community to be evaluated. This year, Acton collaborated with Paris Academy for the first one.
“They’re getting real-life feedback from people in the public and having that real world experience,” Heguy said, adding it is also important for children to learn about themselves through their mistakes and how to overcome personal challenges.
“Part of learning is finding out what you’re good at and what you’re not good at,” Heguy said. “Having that experience is a good thing, and it is extremely valuable. It’s being able to look back at a situation and say, ‘That wasn’t what I thought it was, but that’s all right. I came out of it a different person.’”
The program also focuses on children following their passions, as well as developing character traits and decision-making skills.
“Building the whole person, if you will,” Heguy said.
For Heguy, joining Acton Academy fit in with the goals she and her husband, Joe, have for raising their children.
“We have a family ranch, and I’d like them to be able to participate in that as much as possible,” Heguy said. “[The program] won’t be so restrictive with time, and [it will] give us that flexibility we need.”
Although the curriculum emphasizes an independent focus on core skills, parents must actively participate in the program with their children, Heguy said.
“A big part of home-schooling is that the parents are in charge of their child’s education. They are the directors,” Heguy said.
The academy operates on a 10-month calendar and is for elementary-school children between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. There are plans for the curriculum to “grow organically,” eventually developing middle school and high school studios, according to the website.
Overall, Heguy said she has spent more than a year getting Acton of the Rubies ready. She was selected out of 5,000 applicants, undergoing a “very extensive” interview process to become an affiliate.
“I became approved in August last year, and my daughter, who is now 5, is really excited to be starting this fall,” Heguy said.
As a facilitator for Acton of the Rubies, Heguy will help parents who have chosen one of the two home-school plans available in the Acton Academy: The Homeschool Kit or the Learner Driven Studio. She is one of 60 Acton Academy affiliates worldwide.
Based out of Austin, Texas, Acton Academy was developed by Jeff Sandefer, founder of Acton School of Business, and his wife Laura. It was featured in the South by Southwest conference education session in 2015.
Heguy said parents who are interested in Acton of the Rubies must determine if the home-school curriculum is right for them and be willing to commit as a family.
“If their journey takes them down a path where they want to be the director of their children’s education and home-school their children, then we are an excellent resource for that, along with providing the community aspect,” Heguy said.
“The students are working toward ultimately gaining apprenticeships by portfolio-building now.” — Angie Heguy