Jeff Sandefer

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 named him one of the top Entrepreneurship professors in America. Jeff went on to co-found the Acton School of Entrepreneurship, 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 School professors in the world.

Jeff is a graduate of the Harvard 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 Hall of Fame.

Laura Sandefer

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".

Elizabeth Hollingsworth

Elizabeth Hollingsworth is a devoted mother to her two smart, energetic boys, and wife to her husband John. Elizabeth is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with extensive experience working with children, teenagers, and families utilizing canine assisted therapy. Her private practice has been thriving since 2007. Elizabeth knows that children are capable of much more than we give them credit for, and works diligently to help them find their strengths and voice.


Elizabeth’s professional life became personal when her own children, who were happy and well adjusted prior to elementary school, started to show signs of anxiety and low self esteem in the traditional school setting. Elizabeth volunteered in her children’s classrooms and was surprised at the lack of control many children have. She also witnessed how the classroom environment created a negatively competitive spirit among the children, and shaming from the teachers that goes against everything she believes in, and strives to develop in people. For years Elizabeth has heard similar accounts from her clients about these issues and has been a constant advocate.


Elizabeth’s feelings of helplessness, combined with a strong passion to help her own children as well as others, led her to Acton Academy; a model that puts the control in the hands of their learners, the students (Eagles) of Acton Academys worldwide. By doing so, this encourages conflict resolution, critical thinking and communication skills. Elizabeth's experience was like taking everything she believed in and then pouring it into the creation of a "real-life" school that was aligned with everything she believed the "school" and learning experience should be. Elizabeth witnessed proof of the effectiveness of this model when visiting the original school in Austin, TX. She was completely in awe with the true eloquence, intelligence, communication skills, team approach, and confidence she watched transpire; everything she dreamed to restore to her two children, as well as others in the Orlando area. Elizabeth has encountered numerous struggles and set backs on her journey, prior to being offered the opportunity to be an owner of an affiliate school, but her tenacity and perseverance, both strong components to the Acton model, lead to the creation of Acton Academy Winter Park. Elizabeth’s husband and children have played important roles and have been in continuous support along this journey and she is forever grateful.

John Hollingsworth

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Acton Mascot

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Lily - visiting therapy dog

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