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 opened our elementary school to students. By 2020 we needed a Middle School and we currently take ages 5-14 between our 2 studios. We have a future goal to open our high school in 2023. 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 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, daughter Saoirse and cat Cocoa.

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, Mary, son Finn, and daughter Saoirse.

TJ Baumann (Lead Guide)

Experienced working and supervising in a team atmosphere, TJ Baumann comes to Acton Academy NH from a well-respected residential program where he was the Academic Adventure Lead in charge of planning and leading adventure programs and coaching life skills. Prior to his work there, TJ was the Program Manager for United Eventures.

Over the years, TJ has also been a teaching lecturer at Plymouth State University, a lead naturalist guide for the Appalachian Mountain Club, a mountain classroom environmental educator, a hang gliding instructor, a ski and snowboard instructor and a gymnastics coach. He has worked extensively with children of all ages and backgrounds.

TJ is a graduate of Plymouth State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Adventure Education. He has a diploma from the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, WY. He is a Certified Snowboarding and Hang Gliding Instructor, is Leave No Trace Master Certified and has completed his certification in Wilderness First Aid.

Kerry Perry (Guide)

Kerry has resided in Meredith, NH since 2015. Before being welcomed to Acton Academy, she was a Lead Teacher at Fledgling's Nature-Based Preschool in Laconia for 4 years. Kerry is a K-6 NH certified teacher. She attended Saint Michael's College in VT to attain a B.S. in Business Administration.

After earning her undergraduate degree, Kerry spent a few years exploring the USA while teaching children how to snowboard at Loon Mountain in NH and at Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe, CA. Having always loved working with children, she decided to return to school to obtain a M.A. in Elementary Education at the University of Phoenix in CO. Kerry has been working in a school setting since 2009 and loves partnering her curiosity and love of learning with people of all ages.

Kerry is an avid traveler and has driven across the USA two times. When not at Acton Academy, Kerry spends her time hiking, gardening, cardio kickboxing, swimming, road tripping, and hiking with her husband, son, and dog. Her favorite lazy day activity is relaxing on the recliner while researching the best deals for her family's next travel adventure.

Marilee Sundius (Art Guide)

Marilee, a graduate of Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design/Illustration, is a local freelance graphic designer and illustrator. Fifteen years ago, she created Sundius Design and since then Sundius Design has successfully provided an array of graphic design services (logos, brochures, stationary, and invitations), as well as Marilee's specialty: commissioned portraits and illustrations. She continues to follow her passion drawing portraits and still-lifes, while exploring other art mediums and has exhibited her work locally at VynnArt Gallery and in a number of Lakes Region Art Association annual shows, receiving first place awards. Marilee's artwork has also been featured several times in publications produced by nationally-renowned colored pencil artist Ann Kullberg. Living in the Lakes Region for over 25 years, Marilee cites the beauty of our region as inspiration to continue exploring new techniques and ways to expand her talents.

Starting out with a fun art class for a friend's homeschooler, Marilee's love of sharing her creative spirit through art instruction has developed into 10 years of art classes for area homeschooled students ranging in age from 5 to 17. Her goal has been to bring out the creative side in her students, giving them the opportunity to explore different art techniques with a variety of different mediums and projects. She believes art is an integral part of a child's development as it can expand their ability to interact and communicate through self-expression, as well as offer challenges that cultivate problem-solving skills and experimentation. Marilee has also offered classes for adults around the Lakes Region in the form of group "paint nights", providing basic art instruction while letting participants explore their creative side during an enjoyable evening event.

Throughout her career Marilee has also shared her talents in other ways with community involvement. For many years she held leading roles in the management of the Lakes Region Wavemakers Swim Team. She also volunteered as a Girl Scout leader in Meredith for 11 years, assisted with Boy Scouts as an Art Merit Badge counselor, and has been involved in various church activities and committees.

Bryan House (Music Guide)

After studying at Duquesne and Berklee College of Music, Bryan House performed across the US and elsewhere as a featured soloist with Spiritual Rez and Badfish: tribute to Sublime opening for acts like Snoop Dogg, Less Than Jake, Parliament Funkadelic, Steel Pulse, Toots and the Maytals, Alan Jackson, Barrington Levy, Trombone Shorty, and many others. He learned how to communicate musically and effectively across many genres and ensembles. After leaving the road and starting a family, he found his true passion… teaching others to do the same!

His students have won awards for both 'soloist' and 'ensemble playing' at various national festivals, been awarded partial and full scholarships at conservatory, toured the country, and started their own music careers.

He is currently active with many bands in the NE region including: Badfish: tribute to Sublime, Joe Samba, SupRfan, the Bulkheads, Lakes Region Symphony, Carter Mountain Brass, and many more

Sherry Gardner (Physical Education Guide)

Sherry first learned yoga as a child from an aunt living in Pakistan. Always active, she has run many marathons and loves to get outside in every season. She became serious about yoga in her 20s when, after being told she would never run again, she healed herself with yoga. She continues to run, hike, ski, bike, swim and dance as often as possible.

At The Downtown Gym, Sherry teaches Yoga, Barre, and Better Posture for all levels and all ages. She additionally offers individual and small-group training sessions, by appointment only. She holds certification in Holistic Health Education, Hatha Yoga, Mindfulness-based Yoga Meditation, Chair Yoga, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga, Kids Yoga, Yoga for Children with Special Needs, and YogaBarre. She is also a Coach in the Lakes Region Rock Steady Boxing program for people with Parkinson's Disease.

Recently, she has become involved with introducing yoga to Veterans through Camp Resilience, as well as teaching Yoga for Every Body and Gentle Yoga at Yoga From the Heart.

Jim Miller (Guide)

Jim Miller has spent the vast majority of his professional journey in Education.

As a young man, Jim served in the United States Air Force. While enlisted, he attended the University of South Dakota where he earned his Associates Degree. After serving in the USAF, Jim returned to school at Framingham University and earned a degree in Childhood Education, graduating Magna Cum Laude.

He began his career in education working for a leadership development training organization, Linkage, Inc. a global organizational development consulting firm. He was the recipient of the President’s Award, given annually to the sales representative who substantially exceeds revenue goals while also embodying the company’s values.

In 2019 Jim took the position of Headmaster at Cornerstone Christian Academy and helped the school re-open after closing temporarily during the pandemic.

Jim is deeply committed to equipping young minds with tools and a pathway to excel in the modern world with all its complexities, and to advance the most pressing challenges facing humanity.

He and his wife Renée have five children and live in Alton Bay, New Hampshire with Renee’s mom and an assortment of domesticated furry friends.

Jessica Woodall (Guide for the Explorers)

Jessica's journey to Acton Academy is more off the beaten path. She has had many different opportunities to help her gain real-life skills to help lead our youngest learners. She chose to close her successful small business when she found herself in need of childcare for her youngest daughter. She abruptly changed course and dove into early childhood education, working in a local preschool.

Jessica has four adventurous children that keep her busy, two of which began attending Acton Academy in 2020. As she watched her children develop communication skills and leadership qualities it soon became clear that her values aligned with that of Acton. She joined the team of Guides to help build and grow the Explorer Studio into what we have today.

She enjoys the freedoms that Acton offers to help guide our Eagles and find their love of learning in an environment filled with play and outdoor time.

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.


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

We are happy to report that we have been full-time, in-person this entire school year! Schedule a School Tour to learn more.

Schedule a School Tour! 👋