A school that offers 21st century learning for children 4 -13 in the Region of Waterloo
We believe that every child has the potential to change the world.
Imagine a new kind of school, built for the 21st century.
A school that’s inspiring, engaging, and fun.
A school that builds on your child’s strengths and passions.
A school that allows for every child to be unique.
A school that offers a challenging environment every day, so that homework is never necessary.
A school that equips learners for today’s ever-changing world, where critical thinking, self-drive and communication skills are essential.
That school is IGNITE: An Acton Academy
IGNITE: An Acton Academy in Waterloo Region
IGNITE is 21st century learning. We use state-of-the-art learning software, real-world projects, Socratic discussions, and a Hero’s Journey dialogue in a student-driven, multi-age learning studio. We strive to create a safe and nurturing – but still challenging – environment where lifelong learning is encouraged, and hidden strengths are discovered.
IGNITE: An Acton Academy is accredited by the International Association of Learner-Driven Schools.
Are you frustrated with the old, traditional education model that teaches students to memorize and regurgitate facts? The model that tries to fit all children into the same one-size-fits-all box?
Traditional schools weren’t providing what our children needed for today’s world, so we started one that did.
Why We Started a School
We had always hoped that our children would thrive at school, setting them up with the confidence to lead a fulfilling and happy life – to take the world by storm in whatever way they chose!
By the time our eldest son turned 6, we knew, however, that traditional school was not providing the support and engagement we had hoped for. In fact, more often than not, it was the complete opposite, with the ongoing battles over school and homework leaving us all in tears.
We wanted our children to love learning and be excited to go to school. We wanted them to learn about their strengths and passions, and to be inspired.
We also wanted them to learn about things that mattered in today’s day and age—like how to think for themselves, state their opinions, appreciate their own uniqueness while also working well with a team.
Over the next several years, we tried various options within the public school system, as well as other traditional private schools, even homeschool, but were always left wanting more.
That’s why we decided to start IGNITE: An Acton Academy.
Our intention in starting IGNITE was to give not only our children, but our community, an option that engages children in their own fun learning adventure. An option that balances structure with freedom and personal challenge with teamwork.
We wanted an environment that incorporated real-world learning for the 21st century, encouraging communication skills, critical thinking, and character development. Enough freedom and lots of options so that children can move at their own pace, but still be challenged and engaged in a way that builds intrinsic motivation.
We set out to re-define what education is and can be, and the innovation never stops here at IGNITE.
We’re proud of what we’ve built so far and we’re looking forward to sharing it with you!
– Lisa, Paul, Gavin & Garrett
What if we ignited a fire within our children?
Our mission is to inspire and equip each person who enters our school to find a calling that will change the world.
IGNITE: An Acton Academy offers education reimagined. Our full-day school for ages 4-13 empowers every child to become the hero of their unique learning adventure. With the support of guides who ask powerful questions, our learners set their own learning goals, experience hands-on lessons, and apply what they learn in the real-world. Resiliency is built by embracing failure as a natural part of the journey.
IGNITE benefits from the support network of Acton Academies around the globe while being designed with the learners and families from our local Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge community in mind.
We’re currently enrolling learners in our studios for September 2023. Are you excited to join a community that brings your children a love of learning, empowers their unique genius, and builds confidence and resilience? If so, then you’re encouraged to apply now and join us.
Schedule a meeting with Head of School, Lisa, to learn more about IGNITE and decide if the 21st century approach to learning is the right fit for your family.
Each studio at Acton Academy is its own tight-knit community of mixed-age learners who collaborate with and support each other.
Be curious and have fun.
The studio is a Montessori-based environment with self-directed activities, hands-on materials, and collaborative learning through play. Learners increase confidence, emotional intelligence, and independence.
Our young learners build foundational skills such as reading, math, science, and citizenship that will prepare them to soar into the Discover Studio when the time is right.
Ages 7 to 12
Learn to learn. Learn to do. Learn to be.
The Discover Studio continues to prioritize fun while introducing goal setting and accountability to self and peers. Core skills are developed with learners working at their own pace, in their personal challenge zone, while character is developed through Socratic discussions and peer collaboration.
Discover learners participate in hands-on, project-based quests throughout the year resulting in exhibitions to showcase their work to the community and real-world feedback.
Learners emerge from their Discover experience with a solid mastery of core skills, knowledge of themselves and their environment, and a self-drive to accomplish their personal goals.
Ages 11 to 14
Work hard. Have fun. Find a calling.
The Explore Studio learners will continue their Socratic discussions while taking on more real-world challenges, apprenticeships, and personalized goals. They continue to work on their individual learning plan, with more and more freedom and responsibility to explore unique passions, strengths, and interests. Learners learn to calculate, write, and think more deeply.
Learners emerge from their Explore experience with a deeper understanding of their character and can begin to see how their natural talents and gifts can make a difference in the world.
Learning at IGNITE
Learn to Learn
We equip learners with a love of learning that spans a lifetime.
We honour learners for their uniqueness and encourage every learner to work in their personal challenge zone.
Learn to Do
We don’t just read about it, we do it.
We focus on real-world experiences, apprenticeships, and challenges and keep learning fun, interesting, and deeply connected to the reasons why we’re learning.
Learn to Be
Self awareness is built through Socratic discussions that encourage deep thinking and reflection.
We practice and celebrate intentional character traits such as hard work, integrity, courage, persistence, and grit as well as kindness, grace and courtesy.
IGNITE has “ignited” my son’s joy and eagerness to learn, which we struggled with previously. I would very much advocate for IGNITE: An Acton Academy as an option that all families should strongly consider. I feel there is much more opportunity for success here for children, versus mainstream schooling options. In the past 3 months, since starting at IGNITE, we have found the learning opportunities to be far greater and more rewarding at IGNITE, having much more real-world application.
The enthusiasm and dedication that I’ve seen from the Guides and Head of School is great, and it gives me encouragement for both my son, and my family. I feel very grateful that my son has the opportunity to attend IGNITE.
-ANGELE M., MOM TO 11-YEAR OLD IGNITE EAGLE
Our daughter is having a great experience at IGNITE: An Acton Academy. She loves the program in the Spark Studio and thanked us for finding her a new school!
STEPHANIE & MICHAEL K., PARENTS TO 4-YEAR OLD INGITE EAGLE
“The Acton community and life experience provide our son the best possible environment in which to develop. You empower kids to an unparalleled degree. We truly believe this, relative to all other educational options. Every Acton parent goes to sleep each night thankful for the opportunity to be in this moment.”
—CHARLIE AND PAM MADERE, ACTON ACADEMY PARENTS
“Why am I happy my kids are at Acton Academy? To boil down five years of the best, most unexpected gift is like boiling down a small sea. Our kids have developed confidence to learn independently, lead with compassion, and develop focus without losing curiosity. Learning to integrate the balance of freedom and accountability is having positive impacts in both school and family life.”
—YOLANDA KING, ACTON ACADEMY PARENT
“A couple of days ago Nicholas was getting ready for school and tears were streaming down his cheeks because his sunburn hurt so badly. I was ready to have him stay home, work from his laptop, and apply more aloe every hour. When he realized this was my plan he said, ‘Wait! I can’t stay home! I’ve got work to do!’
Even a year ago, I would have never imagined him exhibiting that level of responsibility. I wouldn’t have dreamed it was possible. I’m glad he learned the lessons that lead to responsibility in sixth grade instead of during his freshman year of college.”
—ROBERT YACKTMAN, ACTON ACADEMY PARENT
“The fact that Acton demands excellence and mastery is the ONLY reason our daughter could even dream of applying to a top university. At Acton, she was not handicapped by being a ‘late bloomer.’ She has had both the room to find herself and the accountability to rise up. Acton is the place she has learned to find and be her best self.”
—SANDY YAKLIN, ACTON ACADEMY PARENT
“Our daughter was showing signs of depression before attending Acton Academy. She is now happy and thriving, in large part because of the Acton way of learning. Now, she loves school so much that she never wants to miss a day.”
—SUSANNAH HOLLINGER, ACTON ACADEMY PARENT
What Makes IGNITE Different?
At Traditional Schools
Everyone learns the same information at the same time
At IGNITE: An Acton Academy
Learners do challenging work at their own pace
Students receive letter grades based on what they’ve memorized
Focus on intrinsic motivators, and real-world feedback. Learner designed systems award effort and badges for proven mastery.
Works like a factory with bells, shift, and one-size fits all
Works like a fun journey, with adventure, fellow travellers, guides and challenges
See what others are saying about Acton Academy
Watch this video as Seth Godin talks about Acton Academy and the first rule of Acton. “If a kid asks you a question, you are NOT allowed to answer them.”
Inc Magazine profiles Jeff Sandefer of Acton Academy Austin, about how Acton is participating in the growing education movement that’s training kids to be entrepreneurs.
Tom Vander Ark is the host of the Getting Smart Podcast and says “Acton Academy is one of the most important education developments in the world. The story behind the ideas, the school, and the movement is a must read for any parent.”
A profile of Acton Academy and the Hero’s Journey dialogue: “It describes life at Acton where learners prepare for the challenges, opportunities, and adventures of the real world.”
Gary Vaynerchuk recorded this video for Acton Academy Placer (CA) to say “this is the kind of school he wishes he had as a kid, to grow up super entrepreneurial.”