Parents around the world are reinventing education by opening Acton Academies. Are you ready to join the revolution?


Mary D. MacIntosh and Paul MacIntosh, Acton Academy NH Co-founders

Our Story

We both attended public schools and were honor students, received college degrees, and achieved high levels in our respective careers. While thinking ahead for our son’s education, we started looking beyond traditional education just to see what opportunities were available. During our journey, Mary happened upon Acton Academy and became fascinated. Once we both looked more deeply into this model, we thought “This is the kind of school that we wish we had attended!” We eagerly searched for a nearby Acton and disappointedly discovered that the closest one was outside of Boston. We love living in the beautiful Lakes Region and moving our family was not an appealing idea.

After much thought and consideration, we looked into creating our own Acton Academy. We visited the founding (flagship) campus out in Austin, TX and talked extensively with the founders, Laura and Jeff Sandefer. Our excitement grew and we found that we couldn’t wait to come back to NH and share this amazing experience with our son, friends, neighbors and the Lakes Region Community!

In Fall of 2019, Acton Academy New Hampshire will open for elementary school students (ages 5-10), with the future aim to expand to middle school and high school students. Acton students learn mastery of the core skills of reading, writing, spelling, and math. They also experience deep-learning “quests” throughout the school year which build the knowledge, skills, techniques, self-drive, self-reliance, self-confidence and the “grit” to be successful students and citizens in the 21st century.

Acton students are kind, work hard, have fun and discover their own individual passions...all with no homework! (That’s not a typo...no homework!) Acton emphasizes that family time is important, so that time after school belongs to the family. We believe that every person is on a hero’s journey and that we all have a special genius inside of us. Acton helps every child develop that genius and find their passions so that they can make this world and community a better place.


Mary D. MacIntosh (Co-Founder, Head of School)

Mary grew up in Meredith, NH, on Lake Winnipesaukee. She received her real estate license her Freshman year in at UNH. She also owned and operated a painting business in college. She graduated Cum Laude from the University of NH with a degree in Business Administration and Marketing.

After graduating, Mary obtained her Broker’s license and took over the family real estate office in Meredith to become a 3rd generation owner of Truell Real Estate. She also started a successful house flipping business and, at one time, owned 16 rental units.

In 2016, she merged the family business with another local company, Peabody and Smith Realty. Mary coached high school volleyball for 11 years (at Kingswood Regional High School and Moultonborough Academy). She was named JV Coach of the Year in 2013. She also coached high school club volleyball for the Lakes Region Juniors for 10 years.

She has traveled all over the world, including living in Ireland for 2 months. In March 2018 she published her first book, Plate of Truth. She currently lives in Meredith with her husband Paul, son Finnian and cat Motley.

Paul MacIntosh (Co-Founder)

Paul grew up in Thornton, NH, attended public school and graduated with 22 others from Lin-Wood High School (Lincoln, NH). He earned a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from the University of New Hampshire and Master's degree in Computer and Information Science from the University of Pennsylvania (“Penn”).

He is an Eagle Scout, has been a volunteer firefighter, has worked for government military contractors, Wall Street firms, co-founded and sold an Internet start-up, and co-wrote a U.S. patent.

Paul has lived in New Jersey, New York, Toronto, New Zealand, Los Angeles, and has returned "home" to New Hampshire. He believes strongly in self-reliance, helping others, and life-long learning -- recently earning his Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) designation.

He’s an entrepreneur and engineer at heart, always tinkering and inventing!. He enjoys playing music and singing, playing games, volleyball, and hiking. Paul lives in Meredith with his wife and son (Mary and Finnian).

Maddisen Getchell (Lead Guide)

Maddisen was born and raised right outside of Boston, MA. She absolutely loves her city roots but after visiting the beautiful Lake Winnipesauke, she knew this is where she wanted to settle down with her husband. Maddisen graduated from Kaplan University with a degree in Psychology with a focus in Applied Behavioral Analysis. She has been working with children from all walks of life with all different abilities for over ten years.

After graduating she worked with at risk youth and students with disabilities (exceptionalities) in many different settings. She also coached students on how to attain a job and be successful on their own in a professional setting. For a few years, Maddisen was a teacher at a Montessori school. Maddisen fell in love with the Montessori approach to educating and has applied it in her teaching to this day.

Maddisen admires watching her students become passionate about their own learning. She enjoys empowering them to pursue their Hero’s Journey and feels every child should have the chance to find the genius within themselves.

Jeff Sandefer (Advisor)

Jeff is an entrepreneur and a Socratic teacher. As an entrepreneur, he began by starting his first company at age 16 and most recently sold Sandefer Capital, an energy investment firm with several billion dollars in assets.

As a teacher, he cofounded the Acton School of Business, a school dedicated to America’s next generation of principled entrepreneurs and famous for its 100-hour work weeks. The Princeton Review has consistently ranked Acton’s teachers, students, and program among the best in the country. While at the University of Texas, Jeff’s students voted him the school’s Most Outstanding Teacher five times, and he was named by Businessweek as one of the top entrepreneurship professors in America. He also cofounded Acton Academy (Austin), where he is a middle school lead guide.

Jeff has been a longtime board member of National Review, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, The Philanthropy Roundtable, and the Harvard Business School and is one of the youngest members ever elected to the Texas Business Hall of Fame.

Laura Sandefer (Advisor)

Laura is cofounder and head of school of Acton Academy (Austin). Raised by a science teacher and minister, Laura lived on both coasts and in between as a child and then landed at Vanderbilt University for her undergraduate studies in the College of Arts and Science.

After working in London and New York City in the aviation insurance business, Laura yearned to follow her heart into the world of teaching. She went back to Vanderbilt's renowned Peabody College and received her Master of Education. This led her to work in arts education at the Oklahoma Arts Institute. Laura later married Jeff Sandefer and has two sons and a stepdaughter. It is the inspiration of these children that led Laura and Jeff to cofound Acton Academy.

Her greatest hero is her beloved late mother, who was a master teacher as none other. Her wisest mentor is her father, who sent her off to college with two words of advice: "Be curious."

I have seen so much development in our son, just in the last few months - not just academically, but in the way he responds to adults and even his younger brother.  He is also more prone to figure things out on his own rather than coming to me or his mom for everything. We love Acton and love what we are seeing in our son!
Patrick B. — Parent
Our promises to your child

He or she will:

  • Begin a Hero’s Journey.
  • Learn to be a curious, independent, lifelong learner.
  • Develop a deep respect for economic, political and religious freedoms.
  • Cherish the arts, wonders of the physical world and the mysteries of life on Earth.
  • Discover his or her most precious gifts and learn to use them to solve difficult problems.
Our beliefs
  • We believe each child has a gift that can change the world in a profound way.
  • We believe in a closely connected family of lifelong learners.
  • We believe in learning by knowing, learning by doing and learning by being.
  • We believe in economic, religious, and political freedom.

JOY + RIGOR = MASTERY

Embracing rigor is part of saying ‘yes’ to a Hero’s Journey. Deep learning brings a special sense of joy, but the mastery required for a Hero’s Journey goes even further, requiring commitment, discipline and hard work towards a worthy goal.

Hi, I'm Mary MacIntosh 👋

I'm the School Administrator at Acton Academy New Hampshire

I'd like to invite you to meet and learn more about how Acton Academy is reinventing education!

Schedule a School Tour! 👋