Erin-Beth Carter finds fit with Acton Academy philosophy
Published 6:37 am Thursday, January 6, 2022
Erin-Beth Carter, co-founder of Acton Academy Lake Charles, has always had a passion for teaching. Growing up surrounded by teachers, a career in a typical classroom seemed like the right direction for her, she said.
“I used to set up my stuffed animals and read them stories. I’d go to my mom’s classroom, help her grade papers and set out beginning of the year activities. Education was in my blood.”
After graduating from McNeese State University, she found the classroom was indeed a good fit. “I loved it,” she said.
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“I was always looking for new strategies to touch every child.”
But the various strengths and weaknesses of individual children, the pressure to reach benchmarks and limited hours in the day to reach them quickly showed her that perhaps the traditional system wasn’t a lasting match. “I had children coming to me in fifth grade math and they were supposed to add, subtract and multiply decimals but they didn’t know place value.”
The tension eventually made her face a tough reality, she said. “I realized this isn’t what I want. I’m not as creative as I want to be and I can’t help them on the levels I want to.”
Having children of her own eventually amplified the desire within Carter to find an educational solution that she would be proud to expose her growing family to. “I was so stressed out about what were going to do about their education. My husband even said, ‘We’re going to move and find the right fit.’”
A move proved unnecessary however, as Carter came across a book by Acton Academy’s original founders “Courage to Grow.” So moved by the philosophies in the book, Carter planned a trip to Austin, Texas to tour the original Acton Academy.
“I felt at home. I thought, ‘This is what I was looking for,’” she said. “I knew I wanted them to have some real-world, hands-on experience as well as understand what is like to be a respectful, honest, kind, generous human. I knew this (Acton Academy) was going to get us there.”
A private, independently accredited school, Acton Academy Lake Charles opened in 2019 and has nearly tripled its enrollment in its first three years bringing in like-minded families with children ages four to 11. “We get to do what we believe is best for each and every child that comes.”
A major component of Acton’s philosophy is developing children who are “curious to learn” and “not afraid to to fail,” she said. Rather than pushing timelines and benchmarks for learning, Acton stresses the individual journey—successes and failures. “We want them to fail in a safe environment and understand that failure is part of learning and growth…How much independent would we have felt after graduating high school had we had that? How much more confident, brave and courageous would be as adults?”
Subbing words like “work” and “students” for “quests” and “heroes,” Carter said Acton emphasizes that learning is a journey just like in classic storybooks. “They (heroes) step out of their comfort zone, even with that resistance and victim hood feelings and they go on this journey to try something new and do something brave. In the end, they realize there’s so much more in them than they realized that they have to offer and they come home truly changed. Our goal is to do that every single day with these young people.”
Erin-Beth founded Acton Academy Lake Charles with her husband Garrett Carter and the school is a testament to their devotion to their two daughters Quinn and Campbell, she said. “You’d do anything for your kids and this was one of those anythings. I was going to find or create a place where my kids could grow in education and love their education.”
To learn more about Acton Academy Lake Charles visit, www.actonlakecharles.com.