Our dream at Acton Academy is to set people free to follow their own calling, in their own space, in their own time. This is exactly what Acton parents, Russ and Dani have done with their girls, Bella and Reese. The story they are living needs to be shared as it is celebrates courage, freedom, learning and love. I asked Dani to write this note for me to post so you can share in their journey of leaving Austin and taking Acton Academy with them to Venice Beach. Enjoy:
Our Experience As Commuter Students At Acton Academy; An Update on the Foltz-Smith’s
Deciding to move back to Venice Beach and take the girls out of Acton Academy was one of the hardest and scariest decisions we have ever had to make. How could we remove them from the community that had changed our family and our lives so much?
Well, we took the big leap in December and moved ourselves home- back to Venice. And while we loved being back at the ocean and being with our friends and family, we had a nagging feeling in our stomachs… could we really recreate our Acton experience here in Venice?
We got off to a really rough start. It took us until almost the end of January to find our new house, and it was the middle of February before our belongings were delivered. During that time, we stayed in a vacation rental and with friends and family. We had a few glitches with Skype and Facetime in those first few weeks. And the girls started to realize how hard it was to stay on central time in order to start school each day with their peers in Austin. We also struggled to find all the supplies we needed for projects- as we were determined to do everything exactly the way it was being done in Austin. And then we got the flu- all of us. That set us back a few weeks. But those days of lying in bed (well, lying on an air mattress since we didn’t have our beds yet) and thinking that this can’t get any worse helped us come to the realization that we needed to make some changes and adjust a few things to make this experience as commuter students work for us. We could keep the spirit of Acton alive even if we changed a few things.
“Getting the girls up and running here in Venice while working my job and trying to find a long term home – probably the second hardest thing I’ve done in my life. I am so proud of D and the girls. I knew in coming to Acton in Austin that to really live the philosophy of Acton (a hero’s journey) would mean we’d have to do this at some point. Really do it, really live it. “ –Russ
So we did make some changes. By the time we got back to Venice after February break, we were on a roll. First off, our desks arrived and we were able to do core skills without sitting on the floor. We decided to start our days at 8 AM PST and move PE, Art, and Projects to the afternoon. We worked out all the technical difficulties with Skype, and the girls were able to feel like they were still a part of the classroom and could participate in all the discussions. And for projects… Anna and Terri do an amazing job detailing everything they are doing in the classroom. So we pick and choose what makes sense for us. (The girls are loving the building project right now!)
We also rejoined the land of living here in Venice. The girls and I (Dani) volunteer at our local school library. And we turn our weekly farmer’s market trip into a fun learning experience. Their social life is deep and rich. We head out to after- school activities every day around 2:30 PM. They are doing yoga, chess, Minecraft class, gymnastics, tennis, swimming, and art- all with close friends. The girls also lead a book club discussion every couple of weeks- using Socratic methods!
While this schedule might be hard on me, I would not change it for anything. The girls have this amazing opportunity to have control over their education while still participating in many great activities and getting to spend a lot of time with friends. (And I am getting good at being able to work anywhere! I just carry my laptop with me everywhere we go!)
This is a very special time in our lives. Who knows when we will ever get to spend this much time with our girls again- and have them want to spend this much time with us. We feel so much gratitude for Acton and all the support we have received from Laura, Jeff, and all the teachers and families. We could not have done this alone. We will forever be thankful…. thankful that we were welcomed into the Acton community, thankful for all support we continue to receive, and thankful for the opportunity to bring Acton Academy to Venice Beach.
We miss you all very much! Come visit any time!
All the Best, Dani , Russ, Bella and Reese