Offering In-Person School. Covid-19 Precautions In Place.
Launchpad is so-named as the final sequence of preparations to become a flourishing adult. As students advance in their abilities, independence and maturity, they will transition to challenges and leadership roles that will round out their skills and provide deep learning in areas of particular interest. While some students engage in self-paced AP classes, others might be building portfolios in preparation for college applications and job interviews. Although there are core skills that all students need to master, additional specialization in areas of particular interest is encouraged.
Core skills empower students to cover more than would fit into a single year of the rigidly scheduled, age-based classes found in traditional schools. Each student has different strengths and the mastery-based model allows students to work at their own pace in each discipline.
For example, a twelve-year-old who masters algebra in October can immediately move on to geometry while working at perhaps a slower pace in grammar or writing. Meanwhile, she might learn some applied trigonometry during a robotics programming quest with older team members.
Flexibility is another advantage of each student working at their own pace. If a student takes a 6-week session off to work full-time at an internship or a long-weekend to attend a gymnastics competition, they can either complete their work prior to departure or after their return.
All students in middle school and launchpad are on a quest to discover their vocation, culminating in them launching into the world of adults with a solid foundation of skills and experience. Annual internships are a core component of this learning process, with each student applying for internships which interest them.
The six-week sessions and flexible schedules of the Acton model allow students to either work full-time at an internship for a six-week period or integrate part-time internships into the weekly schedule.
Our school year is divided into six six-week sessions, each culminating in a semi-public exhibition of student achievements. While core skills continue across sessions at each student’s own pace, quests and projects are usually designed to be completed within a given session and exhibited at the end of session.
The Acton emphasis on skill mastery and real-world application replaces the concept of term grades with demonstrable achievements, including specific work portfolios presented by the students and skill mastery badges.
The six-week sessions provide additional opportunities for Middle School and Launchpad students in the form of sabbatical sessions. Students engaged in full-time internships, foreign exchanges or travel that are completely independent of Acton during a six-week session are exempt from paying tuition for that session. However, in the event that students are continuing with their core skills or require supervision of the internship or foreign exchange by Acton Academy Seacoast, tuition would be required.
Quests are applied, often cross-functional, short-term projects that can include everything from an in-depth study of the Constitution to learning how to make fire without matches to designing and prototyping a new dress to creating a professional résumé to programming lighting circuits using Python.
Quests include all activities that can be completed within a single six-week session. Longer projects that may extend across sessions are also possible and could include robotics team competitions, AP courses, certifications and courses from providers that do not run on the same schedule as Acton Seacoast.
Acton Business Fair
In addition to internships, students participate in an annual business fair where they market some product or service. Not only does this allow them the potential to earn money, it teaches them how to manage a business, including expenses, revenues, marketing, sales and accounting.
As with other core skills, language learning is an adventure that can and should be integrated into our daily lives in innovative and natural ways.
Within the middle school and launchpad, students are encouraged to pursue any one language or multiple languages at their own pace via online tools such as Duolingo and Hellotalk. Additionally, students are encouraged to change the operating language of their devices to the target language. Reading and writing in non-English languages is also encouraged.
Students choosing French or German have the additional opportunity to communicate with the MS/LP guide in either of those languages throughout the day. While he does speak some Spanish, it is less fluent.
In addition to language opportunities in the classroom, Acton encourages and facilitates opportunities to interact with penpals, find programs of interest and engage in video discussions with students in other countries.
Field trips to local establishments where languages can be natively practiced and study abroad trips are also encouraged.
Middle School and Launchpad
- Chromebook (will be managed on the Acton network)
- Headphones (or earbuds)
What Parents Say About Acton Academy Seacoast
Here Are A Few FAQs We Get A Lot:
Acton is the right place for your child if they…
- Wish traditional school was more challenging and engaging.
- Enjoy doing projects around their interests with just a few dozen young people.
- Build, create, innovate, or make art.
- See things differently.
- Care about their future, want to find a calling, and want to change the world.
- Are kind, hardworking, and committed to doing their best.
Acton uses the best of Montessori methods: mixed-age classrooms, student choice within limits,
large blocks of work time, learning through “discovery,” and freedom of movement in the
classroom. Then we go 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 students don’t just memorize facts, they learn
how to know, learn how to do, and learn how to be.
- Real world apprenticeships
- Student-directed quests
- Language immersion opportunities
- Mastery based learning in core academic subjects
- Leadership opportunities peer:peer
- Experiential learning of integrated life skills
- Flexible schedule 6-week long sessions
- Students direct and take ownership of their learning
- Learn self-governance, self-direction, and self-control towards noble, challenging, and stimulating activities
We provide a 21st century learning environment using the latest in educational technology for self-paced mastery of reading, writing, elective courses, and math skills. Students are placed according to ability so that our program can meet the student right where they are. Students move on to the next level only after the content has been mastered, which ensures there are no learning gaps.
We believe that students become confident, independent learners, and good citizens when they embrace the following character qualities: integrity, resilience, self-reflection, and empathy. We believe in personal responsibility and high accountability standards. Acton students are encouraged to take responsibility for their choices and actions as we think developing a strong moral compass will help students lead joyful and successful lives. Character learning is woven into all parts of learning at Acton.
At Acton Academy Seacoast we believe in learning to be and learning to do and an important
part of this is encouraging kids to take responsibility for their own behavior and hold those around
them to a high standard. When something isn’t working, we want our students to work together to
solve the problem, not look for an adult to solve it for them. This creates a sense of
independence and confidence that will serve them well in all areas of life.
We believe that children learn best when working with those younger and older than themselves
rather than split up into groups based solely on age. We have three studios: Spark (K/1), Explorer
(2-5), and Launch Pad (6-10).
We measure student progress in several different ways:
- We set daily, weekly, and session goals between the student 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 their student is learning. It
easily allows us to track progress, identify areas of struggle and close any learning gaps.
- The staff is alerted if a student gets anymore than 2 wrong in a row.
- 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
- 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 any Quest use
projects we have.
- Though we never “teach to the test”, optional standardized tests are given each Fall & Spring
provide useful benchmark data.
- We create portfolios of work that translates to traditional transcripts.
- Additionally, students are encouraged to take advantage of classes and certifications while at Acton that are recognized by employers and colleges. These include AP classes and professional certifications.
- Acton translates the mastery badges to a traditional report card format
At Acton Academy, we believe in the power of balance. Using the incredible, self-paced eLearning
tools now available, we are able to provide the rigor needed for learning math, vocabulary, spelling
and grammar in about 90 minutes each day, while freeing up the rest of the day for engaging, project-
based learning. The two are highly complementary. Those learners in the Spark Studio (K/1) do not
use technology for their academic work period. It is Montessori based for that age group.
For our first two years we will be located in a beautiful space in the Cocheco Mills Building
directly across from Henry Law Park in Downtown Dover. Our long term plans are to buy property
and build a school with lots of space and nature allowing more outdoor exploration for the
We operate on an 11- month calendar, but our flexible program allows families to travel together during the year, without sacrificing any learning.
From glow-in-the-dark contemporary painting to making music with ukuleles, boomwackers, and paint buckets, our students experience varied and unique art and music workshops. Checkout our YouTube channel to see music videos produced and recorded by our students.
Although we do not offer formal team sports, many of our students participate in city league sports. Our school embraces a deep commitment to physical fitness and overall health awareness. Acton students explore a variety of physical activities that have ranged from soccer, golf, track, hiking, dance, and rock climbing. Our students are very active, and we strongly support good sportsmanship and teamwork.
Makerspace Coming Soon
We believe each child is a maker, innately gifted with creativity, wonder, and curiosity. Our Makerspace is a hands-on think tank for children and teens that provides materials, both low tech and high tech, where they can create and prototype. Students build, tinker, problem-solve, and think like entrepreneurs and inventors. We will eventually have a wide variety of items in our Makerspace like a green screen for film production, podcast equipment, robots, engineering tools, textiles and fabrics along with sewing machines, coding and animation programs, book illustration options, 3-d printer, wood kits for building, and lots of raw materials for open-ended creation.