For parents and guides alike, I think we all cannot believe how quickly our first session (Build-A-Tribe) flew by!
But for the learners... I think the perception was a bit different. Each day was a new adventure, learning about strange things like Studio Contracts and Growth Mindset - both of which are rarely discussed in prior school experiences.
And there was the excitement (over the top excitement) for Exhibition and to show all our family members what has been happening in this strange little school by the New River this past few weeks.
Highlights From Exhibition
The first thing to know about an Exhibition in an Acton Academy, is that it is the Heroes who do the planning and execution. From laying out the agenda, greeting guests, offering snacks, giving tours of the studio, sharing Core Skills work done... it is all on the Heroes.
That means... it is a bit like a high wire act, with no safety net.
Learners have to hold each other accountable during all the planning in preparation. Some of the Dragon-riders had to wrestle with their own stage fright fears of speaking in public to gathered group of adults.
Each of the Dragonauts owned different parts of the program, so we heard from all voices and all ages.
One big highlight was the introduction and sharing of the Tribe's Lip Dub project. Lip Dub is a tradition in the Acton Quest of Build-A-Tribe because it is both fun and challenging. The Tribe of learners go through the forming, norming, and storming stages as they make creative decisions and have to collaborate on a lip-synced music video.
For this specific session - we featured the drawing and animation work of our learners who LOVE to draw and express themselves artistically. We thought it was particularly fun to match the animated self-portraits with each learner.
The Exhibition wrapped up with a "Wish List" for each of the learners as they head off for Spring Vacation and prepare for the next chapter (see below) of their Acton Academy experience.
- For our Dillen - our oldest Dragonaut, our wish for continued exploration of school + life in a way that will help him be able to pick out the adventures that most thrill him. This discussion started in our weekly "Courage To Grow" book club and a challenge to continue to see what Acton could mean for him.
- For Divya - our wish was to never lose that learner-driven spirit that was exemplified when she created her own passion project to create early-reader reading books for her Studio mates. The fact that these books were created by someone who just recently was learning to read the same way... makes this "learners teaching other learners" special in the way Acton was designed.
- For Marlee - the Guides all wanted to emphasize how she shows up with bright eyes and a fresh "I love to learn" attitude each day. THAT is exactly why Acton was created... to make sure that spark and light never burns out... something traditional schools are notorious for doing as they enter the "crowd control" phase of schooling. My friend calls it "sit down and shut-up school" but we promise you Marlee... you will never have to worry about that at Acton 🙂
- And for our youngest, Aidan - the wish was continue being his unique self. Always in motion, and always looking for the fun in everything. Aidan is the guy who when he sees someone newly entered into the room, he will go over and just welcome them with a "Hi" and a smile. It is the truest and purest expression of
Sawubona (our morning greeting), which in Zulu means... "I see you. The Tribe sees you."
Update On The Historic Philomen Bryan House
One update shared at the end of our Exhibition, was some sad news that we will soon be departing our beloved Philomen Bryan House here in Old Fort Lauderdale village.
For those who might not know all the details, when we started the session in February we "thought that any day" we would have the occupational licenses in hand. Through the grace and generosity of History Fort Lauderdale, we were able to conduct most of our learning sessions at the New River Inn which is already permitted for school group visits.
Last week we learned (after weeks and weeks of deliberations) that our PBH home would not pass the Fire Inspection* requirements for a school... and we would need to seek out a new school location going forward.
Here's where it gets technical and took us weeks to sort this out. The PBH has a fire alarm system, sprinklers in every room, fire escape, etc. It has been fully fire-inspected for years... as an office space. As a school however, it triggered a "Change of Use" clause, which meant all the grandfathered elements of a historic building would now need to come up to the 2022 code requirement of a modern school (as if it was built in 2022). Those requirements would be impossible to meet - without completely renovating the historic space - something that was not our intention nor that of the Historical Society.
Disappointing news for sure... but just like we encourage our Dragonauts to use Growth Mindset language (not "yet" solved), we believe that one door closes so that another one can open.
Many thanks to our friends and neighbors with History Fort Lauderdale who have been SO supportive and welcoming through all this process. Thank you Patricia, Kamal, Ellery ,Leo, DeAngelo, Thomas, Willie, August, and Dan. We might not be able to stay in the PBH as we planned, but what a wonderful start you gave us ❤️
Actively Looking For Our Next Home
So what's next?
We are actively reaching out to local partners here in Fort Lauderdale seeking a space that will be suitable for the growth of our school. There is a lot of going on in Fort Lauderdale (new buildings are popping up everywhere downtown) so we are hoping that we will be able to find the right space that looks like:
- Underleveraged/underused during weekday work hours (to keep within budget)
- Minimum of 1000 square feet (room to grow would be ideal)
- Within walking distance of the City's greenspaces for outdoor play
- Ideally we would like to stay in the downtown Riverwalk District... but we may expand our search because we know there are potential spaces if we become less of the urban laboratory that we love
If you know of a person or place we should be talking to... please let us know. Our second session will unfold in a hybrid learning form (online + in-person meetings) until we identify a suitable space. We fully expect we will be based in a functional space for the start of the 2022-2023 academic year (August) when our Studio will grow from single digits to a dozen or more learners.
Each week we have been sharing the latest updates from Acton-friends Matt Beaudrea (video series) and the Parents Blog by Acton Founder Laura Sandefer. Here are the latest post for those of you scoring at home:
We've also been sharing Laura Sandefer's blog series on what she has learned about becoming a better parent, as she now looks back on 12 years of experience raising her boys through Acton.