Frequently Asked Questions

What does the school year look like?

IGNITE has a slightly longer year than your typical school calendar and offers more breaks throughout the year. This serves to give learners well timed breaks to recharge, while allowing families an opportunity to travel or take vacation at off-peak times.

The rhythm of our year has seven sessions. In each session learners undertake a quest that results in an exhibition to showcase the work they have completed. Quests are immersive projects where learners work together, explore, and create. For example, in the entrepreneurship quest learners may create their own business. In the film quest learners write a script, film, and edit to showcase their film at the school film festival. Or, in the gardening quest, learners may undertake the creation of a community garden and explore the science of growing plants and vegetables.

At the end of each session learners have a break with anywhere from a few days to a week off school.
It is also important to us to facilitate a flexible schedule, which means that time off for travel and family events are not only allowed but encouraged.

Some of life's best learning opportunities happen in these moments, so if you have a family trip or event planned that does not coincide with a session break, we will work with you to make that happen in the smoothest way possible.

The way our independent learning program is structured, learning can happen anywhere and anytime.

View the 2022 – 2023 academic calendar here.

View the 2023 - 2024 academic calendar here.

Do you offer before school and after school care?

Absolutely.

Before care is available from 8 a.m. onwards and is included in your tuition investment.

After care is available until 5:30 p.m. at a rate of $10 per day per child, or $1,880 for unlimited use for the year.

We are always open to your feedback about the type of services you and family need. Email us at info@ignitelearning.ca with questions or comments.

Do you have childcare or camps available for session breaks?

If there is a need and interest from our community, we will offer a camp experience during our session breaks. We will require a minimum level of enrollment for these to run.

Does IGNITE serve children with learning differences like dyslexia and ADHD?

Lisa Bean, our founder, and head of school, has a special interest and experience with dyslexia and ADHD and serving these learners are a big part of why this school exists.

Lisa’s personal experience with raising two children with varying degrees of dyslexia and ADHD, is joined with training in the Orton-Gillingham method of structured literacy. At IGNITE, we integrate the support desired with the day-to-day curriculum, allowing for an environment where learners are able to move at their own pace and celebrate their successes.

IGNITE can be the perfect match for young heroes with “out of the box” thinking, and for families that are looking to support learning differences while at the same time promoting and encouraging the learner’s unique strengths and passions.

We understand that every learner is different and the support that each individual requires is also different. We invite you to reach out and schedule a meeting to discuss whether we can support your child’s specific needs.

Does IGNITE serve special needs children?

We are not trained to serve children with serious learning differences, aside from dyslexia and ADHD, however we do welcome you to a conversation where we can discuss your child’s unique needs and our ability to support them.

We are committed to being an inclusive environment, which includes various learning differences.

Why is it named ‘Acton’ Academy?

The original Acton Academy was founded by Jeff & Laura Sandefer in Austin, Texas and was named after Lord Acton, a philosopher, who famously said that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Acton Academy is an affiliate network of 300+ schools who support each other, share resources, and are committed to a learner-driven philosophy.

Are you a part of a chain or franchise?

We are not a franchise or chain. IGNITE is an independent school and part of an affiliate network that finds its inspiration and receives mentorship from the founding Acton Academy in Austin, Texas. Our network of affiliates are passionate about revolutionizing education, pursuing best practices, and have agreed to protect a learner-driven environment. Each affiliate follows their own methods in keeping with these commitments and vary based on the leadership at each school and community they serve.

Where is IGNITE: An Acton Academy located?

We are located at 520 Ellis Road, in Cambridge behind the St. James Anglican Church

To find us, drive around the back of the building to the parking lot. You will see our entrance just inside the fenced playground area.

Our location offers a wonderful mix of residential and green space. We have several play and exploration spaces available including a fenced playground, hard and soft top for various sports activities.

We are located beside Hespeler Memorial Arena with more green space, playground, 2 indoor ice rinks, and outdoor sports fields.

Inside our school we have 3 studios - set up for Spark (ages 4 to 6) and Discover (ages 7 to 10), and Explore (ages 11-13), as well as a full kitchen and lots of flexible space.

What grades do you offer?

We serve Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8 learners. We plan to open a high school (called Launchpad) soon.

How do you know that children are learning?

Although we don’t issue grades to learners, their progress is measured and tracked through a variety of tools and systems. Our badge system outlines expectations for reading, writing, math, and social/emotional progress by year.

Leaners work with their guide and their peers to set daily, weekly, and/or session goals from which they can track their progress.

They showcase their mastery by meeting their goals, earning badges, assembling portfolios, and taking part in public exhibitions of their work.

Standardized tests are administered in a low stakes format each year to provide one more measure of learning.

These evaluations and assessments are shared between parents, staff, and students in regular meetings with growth mindset feedback, and we encourage parents to review learner portfolios at any time.

Will learning be aligned with Ontario’s standard curriculum?

While we don’t make a point of aligning directly with the Ontario curriculum, we do make a promise to prepare your child for any path that they desire to be on.

Regarding core skills, IGNITE learners will go through rigorous learning using adaptive, state-of-the-art learning technology to make sure that content is mastered, and any pre-existing gaps are filled. This includes reading, writing and math.

Regarding history, the sciences, arts, programming, and physical education we use project-based learning to deeply explore areas of real-world uses for information, and specific interests among the learners. Since we use an exploratory, project-based method the curriculum will not entirely overlap with what is presented in traditional public schools.

What we are preparing our learners for is to be able to think clearly and learn content that matters.

If at any time it appears that a learner needs to know certain information, we are confident that they are well prepared to take that challenge in hand and acquire the necessary information and skills quickly, effectively, and with confidence.

To understand our confidence in this area listen to this short video clip of Seth Godin speaking about the difference between memorizing information, and knowing how to figure out what information is needed and where to find it when desired.

Will my child be able to go back to a public school, or get into a good University after attending IGNITE?

Our promise is to prepare our learners to meet any challenge that they have a desire to conquer, including trying out a traditional school, or attending the most selective of universities. We are accepting and supportive of all journeys, including those that take learners away from our school.

 

Moving to a traditional school is generally easy for our learners, although they may want to come back!

One of the original founder’s children decided to try out a traditional model for a year just to make sure he could. You can hear more about his experience in the book “Courage to Grow” or listen to this short video clip of a speech he made to a group of Acton Academy founders.

 

In applying to universities, our learners are ready to present a rich portfolio of work including real-world experience, and internships. This makes them invaluable to some of the best universities who are eager to have diverse voices and students who have real purpose in their attendance.

 

For some elite schools, homeschool, and alternative school applicants with portfolios have far higher acceptance rates versus traditional schools. With multiple apprenticeships, real-world experience, and excellent interpersonal skills, our learners will stand out from the traditional college prep crowd. We stay abreast of university / college entrance requirements, such as the SAT, and ensure our learners are well prepared for any exam they wish to take.

 

You may be interested to read this post: How My Project-Based School Prepared Me for Columbia.

Moving to a traditional school is generally easy for our learners, although they may want to come back!

One of the original founder’s children decided to try out a traditional model for a year just to make sure he could. You can hear more about his experience in the book “Courage to Grow” or listen to this short video clip of a speech he made to a group of Acton Academy founders.

In applying to Universities, our learners are ready to present a rich portfolio of work including real-world experience, and internships. This makes them invaluable to some of the best Universities who are eager to have diverse voices and students who have real purpose in their attendance.

For some elite schools, homeschool, and alternative school applicants with portfolios have far higher acceptance rates versus traditional schools. With multiple apprenticeships, real-world experience, and excellent interpersonal skills, our learners will stand out from the traditional college prep crowd. We stay abreast of university / college entrance requirements, such as the SAT, and ensure our learners are well prepared for any exam they wish to take.

You may be interested to read this post: How My Project-Based School Prepared Me for Columbia.

What does a typical school day look like?

A typical day begins with a launch discussion. Here the guide, or a learner, shares something thought provoking – it could be a few words, a video clip, a poem – and then asks a Socratic question. A Socratic question is a challenging, open-ended question that has no right answer. It serves to spark debate and conversation. Launches are often related to character development and sparks thought and insight into how a learner chooses to behave and show up in the studio.

From there learners take a few minutes to set their goals, before beginning core skills time with work on math, reading, writing and languages.

A mind break is taken mid-morning, and mid-afternoon, and a full hour lunch break where learners have free time and / or outdoor time.

The afternoon is devoted to more boisterous activity, and may include:

  • Quest – project-based learning that takes eagles into a broad exploration of science and curiosity. Each session has one big quest project and results in an exhibition where parents and the public are invited in to view the work.
  • Civilization - learners do individual research and then gather for a Socratic debate diving into historical, geographical, political, economic, and religious dilemmas, enigmas and puzzles. Learners step into the shoes of a historical figure at critical turning points to debate and make real-world decisions.
  • Physical education programming
  • Art and / or music

The day finishes with some reflection time on the goals and progress made, studio maintenance where learners all chip in and take care of their environment, and finally with a landing conversation to close the day, reflect on anything notable, and provide character callouts and feedback to peers.

What is the maximum number of learners in each studio?

We aim for an overall ratio of 10 learners to 1 adult or guide across the school.

Due to the nature of how learning happens learners are much less reliant on guides and much more reliant on themselves. Guides are there for safety and facilitation. Learners teach themselves and each other with the help of pre-established structures (what we call game-making), adaptive technology, and thoughtful reflection and discussion.

Is part-time enrollment possible?

In short, the answer is yes, it is possible, however there are several factors to consider including the age of your child and the studio you are considering.

If you are interested in enrolling your child part-time, please reach out to schedule a meeting and we can discuss your needs and the pros and cons of various options.

What is the tuition?

You can see tuition and other details about your investment in your child’s education here.

What is the hero’s journey, and how is it used at the school?

The hero's journey is a common story template that involves a hero who goes on an adventure, learns a lesson, wins a victory with that newfound knowledge, and then returns home transformed.

At IGNITE, we use a hero’s journey framework to explore challenges, callings, and goals that learners may pursue.

A hero’s journey is often associated with the epic journeys of famous literary and movie characters – Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, or Simba in The Lion King, for instance. However, the same basic hero’s journey exists for all of us in small and large pieces of our lives – the time you decided to improve your public speaking skills, when you overcame a difficult situation at work, when you launched your current business, or when we, at IGNITE, set out to change the education system one learner at a time.

The hero’s journey offers inspiration, motivation through the bumps in the road, and a common language for our learners at IGNITE.

Does it ever feel like "Lord of the Flies"?

Yes, sometimes is does. However, in the midst of chaos leadership always rises.

It may surprise adults to know that learners don't like the chaos any more than we do. They may think they'll like it at first, but they quickly get frustrated by it, learn from it, and put things back into order.

Guides are there to ensure safety, and to occasionally shine a mirror so that learners can clearly see what is happening and voice their thoughts and ideas when they are ready to change it.

How much screen time will learners have?

We work hard to strike the right balance when it comes to screen time. We want learners to know how to navigate the world of technology for all its benefits, and to have a healthy relationship with technology.

We actively discuss the addictive nature of technology, and ensure our learners are aware and watchful of unhealthy habits developing in themselves, or in the studio at large.  

We recognize that different families have different rules regarding video games, social media, streaming videos, etc.  All technology use while at school is purposeful and intentional.

In the Sparks (Montessori-based) Studio we use very little, if any, technology.

In the Discover Studio, both technology and non-technology options are available for learning core skills. All platforms, videos and learning games are approved by our guides for appropriate content. Learners who access content outside of these parameters are breaking their contract and may receive a strike (see What happens if I get in trouble?). 

To keep our studios sacred and intentional we ask that learners do not bring personal phones or tablets into the studio. They are welcome to bring them to school and leave them in their bags, or in the office. If parents need to contact their children during the day, they may use the school line.

Frequently Asked Questions (for learners)

If we are the right school for your family, then there is a very good chance that your children are just as much involved in this decision as you are. Here are some of the questions we commonly get from prospective heroes, and responses written by the heroes themselves.

Is there homework?

No! We work hard during the day and can fit everything in. If we really want to do something at home, we can but we don’t need to.

What if I don’t want to go to this school?

Learning is a choice, and we won't force anyone to learn. From the moment you step through our front doors you are in charge of your learning. 

What happens if I get in trouble?

Then you will get a strike, but this only happens if you intentionally hurt (physically or emotionally) someone, or break one of the guardrails (rules) in the studio contract.

The first- and second-strike means a guide will talk to you and let your parents know.

If you receive three-strikes, then you will be sent home for the day. To return to the school, you will need to write a note to the studio's guide to tell them why you should return; the guide decides.

This repeats for strikes four to six, however on the sixth strike you must write a note to the whole studio to tell them why you should return; the studio votes to decide

If you receive 9 strikes in a year, then you probably won't be able to come back.

Other things (e.g., being on time, not being distracting, doing good work) are managed by us, the learners, and we may vote to put systems in place to keep standards high.

Do I have to wear a uniform?

No, you can wear what you want. However, it is possible that we, the learners, could decide together to make a dress code.

Are there pajama days?

Depends on the studio, but it often happens that one of us will propose a pajama day for the next day, it’s voted on, and tomorrow is pajama day.

What does learner-driven mean?

It means that we are responsibile for our learning, our studio, and how things within the studio and at the school run.

Is it fun?

Yes !!!!!

Don’t see your question?

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