NICOLETTE FRANK, M. Ed
“Explorer Studio Guide”
Throughout her life, Nicollette has been an avid learner, determined to explore all things which made her curious. In her youth, she discovered that many of these curiosities stemmed from people, and she therefore sought opportunities to listen, learn, and lead. Her interest in people led the San Diego (CA) native to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Montana, which she completed in 2015.
Over the last several years, Nicollette has enjoyed roles like coaching sports and drama, camp counseling, developing educational curriculum for a non-profit, and aiding in a preschool. However, her professional and educational experiences left her uninterested in the life of a traditional classroom teacher. Inspired by Ken Robinson’s TED Talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”, and a personal drive to transform education, Nicollette spent a year in a unique program at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, completing a Master of Education in Integrated Arts in Summer 2016.
Nicollette’s Hero’s Journey has since led her to Jacksonville to join the AAJ team. She looks forward to using her creativity and curiosity to inspire (and learn from) a tight-knit community of life-long learners whose experiences at Acton will help them discover the wonderful ways in which they will change the world.
ROBIN CASTLE, M. Ed
“Viva Atelier Guide”
Robin grew up in the Great Lake State-Michigan. She was named after the state bird which is the reputed first sign of spring. She had earned her M.A. in Education from St. Catherine University. Her credentials are for grades 1-6, with certifications in Montessori, English as a Second Language, and Special Education. Her training and experience have afforded her insight and respect for the development of children, and the importance of the learning environment in their growth. Robin loves children, their nature as well as the nature of the world. As a teacher, she has always sought to become more knowledgable with greater capacity to meet the needs of diverse learners. The greatest joy in her career happened when she came upon the guide position with Acton. She has long yearned to be part of a community of learners that value the precious gifts within each child as the most important part of learning to learn, learning to do and learning to be. She is energized daily to be working in an environment that has this level of appreciation for the magic of childhood which deeply resonates with her philosophy and views of child education and feels that the ideals articulated in AAJ’s mission are coming into reality and action each time trials and challenges are faced with integrity and courage. Robin believes in celebrating family and always makes it back home every summer to her childhood home on the lake where she grew up. She is blessed with four children and a sweet 5 year old granddaughter.
FUTURE TEAM MEMBER
“Voyager Studio Guide”
“Theatre Guide, Viva Atelier Studio”
Gloria first stepped onto the stage at the tender age of 7 with a starring role in her church’s holiday production. Living in a very rural town in the Adirondacks of Upstate New York, there were no theatres or acting classes but Gloria began to write simple plays and encouraged her friends to act with her in many school yard productions. At the age of 14, her family relocated to Orlando, Florida where Gloria found the path to theatre that she had been dreaming about. She began performing in various community theatre productions including musicals, high school plays and thespian competitions along with print modeling. At age 21 she co-starred in her first professional production of The Beauty and The Beast. Gloria graduated from the University of Central Florida and went to work as a litigation paralegal for over 20 years. Gloria married the love of her life and moved to Saint Johns, Florida where she now resides. Her love of children has lead her to her calling as a guardian ad litem for nearly 6 years. Although she rarely takes the stage, the love of theatre has remained strong. She would love the opportunity to assist young children in finding their calling to change the world.
Mrs. Duke loves to share her passion for music with children. Before starting her own business in 2013, The Treble With Music, she was the lower-school music director for The Bolles School, teaching classroom music and private lessons there since 1992. A graduate of Jacksonville University, she earned a Bachelor of Music Education in 1990. She has been a member of the North Florida Orff Chapter since 2003, and attended workshops throughout each year to stay current on effective teaching methods, gain professional development, and share lesson plans and ideas with other area teachers.
Mrs. Duke believes that music education is linked very closely to academic success. While music can be expressive, it is a methodical system that supports the study of language arts, literacy, science, math, and physical coordination. It can also stimulate creativity and increase the ability to problem solve. One of her many talents is in introducing musical concepts and skills using a variety of musical activities. These include singing, movement, literature, playing hand-held percussion, as well as the enrichment of listening skills, steady beat, rhythms, and creativity—all in a fun, interactive environment.
LEAH McDERMOTT M. Ed
Acton Academy Jacksonville is very fortunate to have Leah as a consultant for our Studios. Leah is a homeschooling mom of 2, natural learning advocate, Master teacher, speaker, author, and the founder of Your Natural Learner. She has over 15 years of experience educating and working with children of all ages, from infancy to college years. She has two Masters of Education degrees as a Reading Specialist, K-12 certification, and Curriculum and Instruction Design. She has been running her own natural education business for 6 years, and has worked with hundreds of families and educators around the world to totally transform the way they look at the learning process and the way they teach their children. She had originally gone into teaching to reach as many children as she could… and now she’s truly found a way to stretch that audience than one classroom at a time. She absolutely loves what she does. Her greatest joy comes from hearing from parents and educators experiencing children’s AHA! moments when something they’re excited about finally connects. When she’s not designing her next online course or writing content for her followers, she finds the time to enjoy the Pacific Northwest outdoors with her husband and her two boys, planning the next big family vacation.
MARY SHAEFFER, DMD, CAGS
Prior to founding Acton Academy Jacksonville, Mary was a dental practitioner, graduating from Boston University in 2002. She decided to stay home after her son was born. After experiencing shortcomings in her son’s education, she was led to finding the best schooling method, actively researching different learning styles in children, and progressive educational models, when she stumbled upon Acton Academy. She was convinced that this was the best method in education, focusing on the children and knew she wanted to extend her passion for a tailored, individualized, collaborative approach from healthcare into education. She answered the call to go on her Hero’s Journey to learn more about the approach that resonated strongly with her and her son by participating in the program A Reggio Emilia approach to Early Childhood Education offered by Lesley University in Cambridge, MA.
Mary is back to practicing dentistry and is thrilled to be an integral part of Acton Academy Jacksonville. She knows that in Acton Academy Jacksonville, children will have the experience of learning in a way that will maximize their full potential and aid them in finding their true calling in life to change the world. She is committed to making this a place where each child is excited, challenged, celebrated and championed.