– Letter From The Founders –
As parents of two young girls, we found ourselves searching for alternatives to our neighborhood schools. We knew our children would be just fine in a traditional school. They would have gotten good grades, volunteered somewhere, and gone to college. But we wanted something more. In our own personal experiences at school, we found that education lacked purpose and was restrictive. Most of our energy was spent either in trying to keep pace with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ curriculum or trying to fit in with others. There was significant pressure to get good grades, however the focus was not on learning, but on regurgitating information. We also realized that the world our daughters are facing, with automation and artificial intelligence, is vastly different than the world we grew up in. They would need to know how to learn, respond, innovate, and create.
We envisioned an education for our daughters that prepared them not for tests, but for success in both life and their future careers. We wished for an encouraging environment to nurture their self-esteem, develop a love for learning, understand how they learn best, and better prepare for life’s challenges. The more we were honest with ourselves, the more we felt traditional schools were outdated and limited. We experimented with homeschooling our daughters and saw a tremendous positive change; their learning was accelerated, they were happier, and more stable emotionally. However, the environment still lacked one key element; consistent collaboration with other children.
In our years of searching to find something even better, we discovered Acton Academy, a learner-driven community launched in 2009 by Jeff and Laura Sandefer who sought a better way of education for their own children. Learning about Jeff and Laura’s background, their philosophy, and the success of their graduating seniors, we were convinced that this method of learning was not experimental but the best path forward for our children’s success. During a visit to their academy, we were blown away when meeting students from elementary, middle and high school. Children here wanted to learn, they were confident, creative, self-driven, kind, focused, resourceful, well-articulated, and not scared to learn from failures. These experiences had a lasting impression on our minds and made it impossible to look away.
As a family, we are excited to serve our community with an academy where who you are and what you can do is more important than merely what you know. Where children have the opportunity every day to discover their inner light, or ‘Tej’, and be able to answer, ‘How do I be the best version of myself today and every day?’
– Meera & Srujal Shah
Parent, Founder & Guide
Tej Acton Academy
Meera is the mother of two beautiful daughters and is Co-Founder and Guide at Tej Acton Academy.
Her passion for alternative methods of education comes from her twenty years of experience as both a participant and facilitator of youth discussion groups centered on cultivating strong character and human dignity.
She believes that along with academic excellence, education should also bring joy and develop leadership qualities such as strong character, clarity in thought and communication, and the ability to face adversity. Acton Academy’s principles of deep respect for children and trust in their abilities resonated immensely with her, as did its Hero’s Journey for each student to find their calling.
Meera earned her bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy and practiced in the South Bay for eight years. She has always strived to offer her best in every responsibility she has taken, and is excited to do the same with Tej Acton Academy.
PARENT & ADVISOR
TEJ ACTON ACADEMY
Srujal is a native of San Jose where in his home growing up, grades were never the goal but just a by-product of learning for mastery and for joy.
Srujal has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from UC San Diego with a specialization in signal processing. He carries a Doctorate in Dental Surgery from the University of Southern California. He continues to teach around the country in these fields and is involved with several related professional committees and boards.
He studied abroad for one year in India at the Tatvagyan Vidhyapith college where he was introduced to new systems in learning. The education was value-based, Socratic, and holistic. He saw that when students were trusted, they developed a love for learning and immense pride in their school.
With Tej Acton Academy, Srujal is excited to bring his depth of experiences into the field of education for his own children and members of his community.
Acton Academy Founder
Laura is cofounder and head of school of Acton Academy (Austin). Raised by a science teacher and minister, Laura lived on both coasts and in between as a child and then landed at Vanderbilt University for her undergraduate studies in the College of Arts and Science.
After working in London and New York City in the aviation insurance business, Laura yearned to follow her heart into the world of teaching. She went back to Vanderbilt’s renowned Peabody College and received her Master of Education. This led her to work in arts education at the Oklahoma Arts Institute. Laura later married Jeff Sandefer and has two sons and a stepdaughter. It is the inspiration of these children that led Laura and Jeff to cofound Acton Academy.
Her greatest hero is her beloved late mother, who was a master teacher as none other. Her wisest mentor is her father, who sent her off to college with two words of advice: “Be curious.”
ACTON ACADEMY 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.
Tej Acton Academy is located in The Point Church, which is easily accessed via the 101 freeway and nestled in the beautiful Evergreen foothills of San Jose, California. Our classrooms are large and airy with lots of natural light. Learners have access to outdoor space, nearby hiking trails, plus a full size indoor gym and amphitheater.