HOW IS E.S.T.E.A.M ACADEMY DIFFERENT?
The heart of E.S.T.E.A.M Academy is its respect of the child. We believe all children are born to be great thinkers. Creative growth is encouraged by designing a curriculum that allows each child to contribute in his or her unique way. Children, parents, guides, and the environment form a complete circle.
E.S.T.E.A.M Academy is fundamentally different from traditional schools. No bells ring, and there are no lectures. Students are in control of their own learning. How E.S.T.E.A.M Academy Round Rock is different:
- Student-driven, self-paced learning
- Real-world projects and apprenticeships
- Multi-age/grade classes
- Student self-governance
- Exploration and assessment of skill levels, learning styles, aptitudes, personality traits, and interests
- Guides rather than teachers
- Socratic discussions rather than lectures
- Mastery learning and student portfolios of achievements rather than grades
- No homework
- No teaching to the test
WHY DO WE PUT SO MUCH EMPHASIS ON CHARACTER AND ENCOURAGE A GROWTH MINDSET?
When you look at the world as a hero, you welcome challenges, embrace responsibility, and act kindly towards others, all while being grateful for the opportunities that have come your way. We treat each child who enters our doors as a Hero on a Hero’s Journey. Our goal is to equip and inspire these young heroes with the mindset, skills, and courage to change the world, all the while realizing that perseverance, character, and grit are far more important than raw talent.
WHAT GRADES DO YOU OFFER?
While we don’t have traditional K-12 grade levels, we serve learners ages 5 through 17. Each year we will add one grade level so the oldest children can remain with us.
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 the individualized curriculum, students of all ages work together in groups.
SINCE YOU DON’T HAVE GRADES, HOW WILL I HAVE A TRANSCRIPT WHEN I GO TO COLLEGE?
Each Hero sets out on their own journey. Although we don’t have grade levels, all core curriculum work is tracked, managed, and saved, by our guides. We are always able to provide you a transcript.
WHO WAS LORD ACTON?
Lord John Emerich Edward Dahlberg Acton (1834-1902) was a Victorian scholar of Freedom who saw liberty not as a license, but as the freedom to do what was right. He was suspicious of power for the sake of power, which led to his most famous quote: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In the Acton Academy network, we celebrate his defense of economic, political and religious freedom.
WHY IS E.S.T.E.A.M ACADEMY A MICROSCHOOL?
We want to grow organically and have like-minded families involved with E.S.T.E.A.M Academy. Starting small allows us to get to know each child while building from the ground up. We would like to keep the number of students to guide ratio low, as it allows children an opportunity to flourish in a smaller class setting. Each Studio will have no more than 30 children.
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.
WHERE DID THE TERM HERO’S JOURNEY COME FROM?
These values are rooted in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey, which has inspired the development of Acton’s curriculum. Students not only embark and reflect on their own journey filled with tests, allies, and enemies, but also examine how famous scientists, scholars, and historical figures heeded their own calls to adventure and roadblocks along the way.
WHAT IS AN “INDEPENDENT LEARNER”?
Someone who can research questions, follow instructions, solve problems—admit that they don’t know something and figure out a solution when they hit a roadblock without asking an adult for help — participate in discussions, and strive for mastery.
WHAT IS MASTERY LEARNING?
Mastery Learning is ensuring that a student has a complete understanding of a concept before they move on. An incomplete understanding early on can have devastating results later, especially in math. Using the latest adaptive learning tools for core skills, our young learners progress at their own pace as they master each concept, moving quickly through topics they grasp easily and spending more time on those they find challenging. Children who comprehend a concept quickly can move on or deepen their understanding by helping those who are struggling. No one is just a learner, everyone is also a mentor, motivating each other to take ownership of their education.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY A “RUNNING PARTNER”?
How will you ensure that no student slips through the cracks?
What system will you have in place for students to affirm and hold one another accountable?
Running Partners are fellow students, assigned or chosen, who meet together regularly to set goals and hold each other accountable for meeting those goals. Running Partners encourage and inspire each other by asking good questions, listening, and providing affirmation.
We’ve found that a learner will work far more diligently for a fellow student and the community than for a guide.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY “EVERY CHILD CAN CHANGE THE WORLD”?
We believe each of our students will find a passion — something they love and have a gift to do. They will use this gift to serve others and fulfill a need they are passionate about in the world. This may be by becoming a shoe-shiner who tells stories and makes people’s day just by doing his/her job with love and vigor; it may be by becoming a coach who sees the light in a child’s eyes and guides him/her to pursue a dream; it may be by becoming a father or mother who leads a family on a Hero’s Journey; it may be becoming an entrepreneur or business leader guided by compassion and integrity, or it may be by becoming an artist or writer who brings beauty to people’s lives.
WHY DO YOU FOCUS ON TEACHING THE “AMERICAN EXPERIMENT”?
We believe in liberty and justice and the ideals of the American revolution as the cornerstones of civilization. In addition to experiential learning, we will study the American documents and the true meaning behind them, as we examine other cultures and forms of government.
HOW DO YOU MEASURE A LEARNER’S PROGRESS AT E.S.T.E.A.M ACADEMY?
We measure student progress in several different ways:
We set Daily, Weekly, and Session goals between the students and the Guides. We utilize robust real-time data for each of our online learning tools. At any given time both parents and Guides can find out exactly what the learner is learning. It easily allows us to track progress, identify areas of struggle, and close any learning gaps. Having a small class size, we are able to work one on one with the student to make sure that we can close gaps and help them master the skill. The web-based programs don’t allow the student to move on to the next skill until it has been mastered. We utilize individual paper portfolios where each student showcases and adds their best work. We can measure their growth in things such as History, Writer’s Workshops, and Quest projects we have. Though we never “teach to the test”, standardized tests are an option once a year to those who wish to ensure comprehensive progress. RESULTS: On average, Acton students are progressing 3-5 grade levels above students their age.
IS E.S.T.E.A.M ACADEMY ACCREDITED?
We are accredited by the International Association of Learner-Driven Schools.
IS E.S.T.E.A.M ACADEMY A MONTESSORI OR A REGGIO INSPIRED SCHOOL?
We respect and incorporate both Maria Montessori’s and the Reggio philosophy but we are not a Montessori school. We have applied the best of both methods: mixed-age classrooms, student choice within limits, large blocks of work time, learning through “discovery,” and freedom of movement in the classroom. We have surpassed it by two important steps further by using the best 21st century eLearning tools and adhering to the Socratic method of instruction which emphasizes asking and answering the right questions to stimulate critical thinking. Our learners don’t just memorize facts, they learn how to learn, learn how to do, and learn how to be. We also believe in the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum.
DOES E.S.T.E.A.M ACADEMY SERVE SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN?
We are not trained to serve children with serious learning disabilities but have been able to serve young heroes with dyslexia if they receive special training and believe that many minor learning disabilities are commonly misdiagnosed.