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Acton Academy School Comes to Rocklin

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ROCKLIN -- From a young age, kids are taught to follow the rules. Do their homework and study hard.

But traditional schools aren't for everybody.

"I was happy there, to be with my friends and stuff. I didn't like learning there," Imagen Ogden said.

Imagen, 12, is a middle schooler at Acton Academy Placer, in Rocklin. It's a new private school with no classrooms, no grade levels and no teachers. There are 50 of these schools in the world.

"We don't call them teachers. A guide isn't someone who stands there and lectures and says, 'This is what you need to do,'" Acton Academy Placer founder Matt Beaudreau said. "A guide is there to literally stand by their side, and say, 'Who are you? What do you want to do? How do you want to change the world? OK, let me do that.'"

Beauredeau is starting the first Northern California branch of the school this year. He says Acton is different from traditional schools because its small studios cater to an individual student's unique abilities.

"Students are really taking control of their education. They're able to go at whatever pace they need to go in order to master the skills they need to master," Beauredeau said.

Critics say too much freedom could mean a loss in productivity.

That freedom doesn't mean each child can learn whatever they want. They still have core skills they have to learn, but the pace at which they learn them -- and how they learn them -- allows for some wiggle room.

Imagen's mother, Rachel Ogden, says this type of school is a good fit for her daughter.

"I grew up in school and I absolutely hated it. It wasn't interesting to me. I really didn't learn a whole lot. I learned how to take a test, which I barely passed," she said. "So knowing that she gets to be in an environment where her passions are going to be able to come out, to be able to express who she really is, it just thrills me to no end."

About 50 students are registered at Acton Academy Placer. It's elementary school is packed and middle school has a few openings.