Our Story

Matthew Ahrnsbrak Founder and Head of School grew up in the small town Winchester, Virginia and experienced both private and public education. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy I deployed multiple times to Somalia and the Middle East as part of NATO Operation Ocean Shield combating piracy off the Horn of Africa.

Shortly after my daughter, Madison, was born I moved to Atlanta and entered the world of information technology in an effort to provide a better life for her.

For the last few years I have led Google Cloud Platform’s East Coast enterprise sales efforts for DoiT International. Being able to work from home has been an extreme benefit as I have had the pleasure of being more involved in my daughter's life. I moved from Atlanta to Nocatee specifically for the St. John’s County school district. I was stationed here from 2011 to 2015 so the move wasn’t entirely unfamiliar. Things were going well at first. She came home eyes wide with excitement and encouragement for what the next day had to bring. She wanted to learn everything - all the languages, read all the books, even wanted to learn 8th grade math.

A few months later I noticed a shift. Report cards and parent teacher conferences showed that Madison was an ideal student. “If only I could have a class full of Madison’s.” She sat quietly, listened to instructions, and did as she was told. She was seen as a leader in her class. But the excitement was gone. It became increasingly evident that Madison was becoming disengaged, frustrated, and bored. The spark, curiosity, and eagerness to know “why?” that you come to expect from a young child, was extinguishing.

School became a place of competition rather than competency, where time for deep exploration isn’t part of the curriculum, and where failure is a weakness rather than part of the process. We needed an alternative. I launched Acton Academy Ponte Vedra with a mission to inspire and empower both young adults and their parents to discover a calling that can change the world. Our academy provides a safe and self-directed learning environment where learners embark on their own heroes' journey to find their purpose and become natural learners.

Through our program, they will understand the crucial relationship between freedom and responsibility, develop long-lasting friendships, and participate in a hardworking community with a culture of inquiry. We offer a platform for them to explore deeply, take chances, and learn from their mistakes as they strive towards becoming the best version of themselves. Our focus is on preparing them for their journey by providing a series of trials and tests that instill integrity and purpose, enabling them to lead a fulfilling life. At Acton Academy Ponte Vedra, we believe in re-imagining education and empowering young adults to reach their full potential.

Matthew Ahrnsbrak
Acton Academy Ponte Vedra Founder and Head of School

Our Campus

Acton Academy Ponte Vedra is centrally located at The Link - Studio C, 425 Town Plaza Ave - Studio C, Ponte Vedra, Florida 32081

Our Team

Matt Ahrnsbrak

Lead Elementary Guide

Matt was born and raised in Winchester, Virginia, and moved to Nocatee in the winter of 2021. Matt holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. After a career in Naval service and a career in emerging technologies, he leads our Elementary Studio.

Laura Kase

Lead Spark Guide

Laura was born and raised in Fayetteville, Georgia. She now lives in Nocatee with her husband Adam, and their three children Jaxon, London, and Easton. Laura holds a Bachelor's degree in Religion and a master's degree in Professional Counseling from Liberty University. Upon graduating, Laura worked as a family therapist with youth and families in crisis, and later went on to provide therapeutic services to children with developmental disabilities. For the last six years, she has had the privilege of home-educating her own children where she found great joy in guiding their learning experiences. Laura is now looking forward to her next adventure as the Lead Spark Guide at Acton Academy Ponte Vedra.

Our Advisors

Jeff Sandefer

Co-Founder - Acton Academy

Jeff Sandefer lives a dual life as an entrepreneur and a Socratic Guide. As an entrepreneur, he founded his first company at age 16 and went on to found or co-found seven successful businesses. As a Socratic teacher at the University of Texas, Jeff’s students five times voted him the school’s Outstanding Teacher and Businessweek named him one of the top Entrepreneurship professors in America.

Jeff went on to co-found the Acton School of Business, an MBA program perennially ranked by the Princeton Review among the best in the nation. In 2012 The Economist honored him as one of the top fifteen Business School professors in the world.

Jeff is a graduate of the Harvard Business School, where he served for over twenty years on the school’s governing committees. He was a longtime director of the Philanthropy Roundtable and National Review magazine and one of the youngest members ever elected to the Texas Business Hall of Fame.

Laura Sandefer

Co-Founder - Acton Academy

Laura lived on both US coasts and in between as a child, then settled into Vanderbilt University for her undergraduate studies in the College of Arts and Science. After being awarded the highly competitive Walter Wattles Fellowship at Lloyd’s of London, Laura worked in the aviation insurance industry in New York City.

Deciding to follow her calling into the world of education, Laura returned to Nashville and earned her Master of Education at Peabody College. This led her to her work at the Oklahoma Arts Institute, creating fine arts education programs for teachers and talented high school students.

Laura married Jeff Sandefer and is the happy mother of Sam and Charlie and step-mother to Taite. It is the inspiration of these children that led Laura and Jeff to co-found Acton Academy.

Her greatest hero is her mother who was a Master Teacher. Her wisest mentor is her father who sent her off to college with two words of advice: "Be curious."

Our Promises

We promise through Socratic guiding and experiential learning to encourage each member of our community to:

  • 1

    Begin a Hero’s Journey,

  • 2

    Discover precious gifts and a commitment to mastery.

  • 3

    Become a curious, independent, life-long learner.

  • 4

    Embrace the forging of a strong character.

  • 5

    Cherish the arts, the physical world, and the mysteries of life.

  • 6

    Treasure economic, political, and religious freedom.

Acton School Guide

Our Beliefs

We believe clear thinking leads to good decisions, good decisions lead to the right habits, the right habits forge character, and character determines destiny.

  • 1

    We believe each person has a gift that can change the world in a profound way;

  • 2

    We believe in learning to learn, learning to do, and learning to be.

  • 3

    We believe in a closely connected family of life-long learners.

  • 4

    We believe in economic, political, and religious freedom.

Acton School Guide

Our Economic Model

We believe self-directed, peer-to-peer learner-driven communities built by our young Heroes will deliver transformational learning at a cost all parents can afford.