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Our Story

Once upon a time I was a classroom teacher. I taught for 7 years in public classrooms, and I LOVED many parts of it, but always felt something was missing. Some of the learners I had taught needed to be freed from the tight boundaries around them.

After starting a family and then sending our own children to school, the excitement for traditional education waned, and the missing pieces were magnified. We learned that our son was profoundly dyslexic and that the school was not able to provide the academic support necessary. Our girls were not thriving socially or academically. This inspired us to begin homeschooling with all three of them!

We loved homeschooling, but noticed our children needed more. We began researching and learning about alternative learning environments, and fell head over heels for the disruptive classroom movement.

Acton Academy was the perfect match to what our family –and so many of my students– needed. We are bringing the movement to the East Bay Area and are thrilled to be joined by fellow learners!

Sincerely,

Jana Pappas
Acton Academy Concord Co-Founder

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Our Team

Jana Pappas
Co-Founder and Director

Jana Pappas considers herself an inspired leader and entrepreneur, called to the world of teaching from a young age. Jana received her Liberal Studies Bachelor Degree in 1998, then her teaching credential and Masters in Education in 2000. She has been teaching ever since: from a classroom teacher, leader of teacher education courses, tutoring students with language processing differences, homeschooling, and now Acton Academy in Concord.

Jana believes in student-led education, real-life experiences, guiding students to find a fire within them, and to follow their curiosity wherever it may lead. She is an accredited teacher in multi-sensory education, inquiry learning, all learning modalities, and the foundation of critical thinking - Socratic Teaching. Jana is beyond excited to join in the Education Revolution and offer an Acton Academy in her community.

Jana has lived all over California, from San Diego to Chico, but has settled in the East Bay Area with her husband, Jason and children, Samantha 15, Allison 13, and Cameron 10.

Jason Pappas
Co-Founder

Jason Pappas is an honest, hardworking business and family man.

Jason has a long career in Marketing, currently working for a large Agency in the San Francisco Bay area. Jason attended Diablo Valley College receiving his AA in Business Management, then going on to Cal State Chico to earn his Bachelors Degree in Business & Marketing.

Jason’s strong background in business management and marketing allows him to support Jana and their new journey to bring the Acton Model to the East Bay. Jason is excited for the journey to change how young people grow and become strong adults.

Jeff Sandefer
Advisor and Acton Academy Co-Founder

Jeff Sandefer lives a dual life as an entrepreneur and a Socratic Guide. As an entrepreneur, he founded his first company at age 16 and went on to found or co-found seven successful businesses. As a Socratic teacher at the University of Texas, Jeff’s students five times voted him the school’s Outstanding Teacher and Businessweek named him one of the top Entrepreneurship professors in America.

Jeff went on to co-found the Acton School of Business, an MBA program perennially ranked by the Princeton Review among the best in the nation. In 2012 The Economist honored him as one of the top fifteen Business School professors in the world.

Jeff is a graduate of the Harvard Business School, where he served for over twenty years on the school’s governing committees. He was a longtime director of the Philanthropy Roundtable and National Review magazine and one of the youngest members ever elected to the Texas Business Hall of Fame.

Laura Sandefer
Advisor and Acton Academy Co-Founder

Laura lived on both US coasts and in between as a child, then settled into Vanderbilt University for her undergraduate studies in the College of Arts and Science. After being awarded the highly competitive Walter Wattles Fellowship at Lloyd’s of London, Laura worked in the aviation insurance industry in New York City.

Deciding to follow her calling into the world of education, Laura returned to Nashville and earned her Master of Education at Peabody College. This led her to her work at the Oklahoma Arts Institute, creating fine arts education programs for teachers and talented high school students.

Laura married Jeff Sandefer and is the happy mother of Sam and Charlie and step-mother to Taite. It is the inspiration of these children that led Laura and Jeff to co-found Acton Academy.

Her greatest hero is her mother who was a Master Teacher. Her wisest mentor is her father who sent her off to college with two words of advice: "Be curious."

"The thought of a learning environment that incorporates active learning, includes all the senses, and emphasizes a pursuit personalized to your individual gifts, sounds amazing. What kid doesn't deserve that?"

Our promises to your child

They will:

  • Begin a Hero's Journey
  • Learn to be a curious, independent, lifelong learner.
  • Develop a deep respect for economic, political and religious freedoms.
  • Cherish the arts, wonders of the physical world and the mysteries of life on Earth.
  • Discover his or her most precious gifts and learn to use them to solve difficult problems.
  • Understand the importance of strong character.
  • Value a healthy lifestyle of mind and body.

Hi, I'm Jana Pappas. 👋

I'm Head of School at Acton Academy Concord.

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