Agotime Adefunmi, Discovery/ES Studio Guide

While in high school, I took a trip to Adventure Playground; that experience would change my views about how children learn. What I observed was experiential play – which included frameworks that allowed children to take their own calculated risks to build, construct and articulate their own vision with resources provided.

That passion carried me through community college to UNCG where there were more resources than I could’ve imagined. During this time, my two passions, entrepreneurship and experiential education, took root.  I helped to develop a social entrepreneurship venture, The Goal Program, which sought to affect high rates of attrition at the community college level by helping students set short and long term goals. Outside of class I collaborated on mobile applications during The Greensboro Hackathon, and was a finalist in the 2 Minutes to Win It Business Pitch Competition, which led to internships, product development, and exploration of 3-D Printing.  My appetite for learning was insatiable, and I wanted to latch on to any opportunities for exploration I could get my hands on to.

When I learned about Empowered Minds Academy a spark was ignited as I explored the ways in which Panthers LEARN TO LEARN, LEARN TO BE, and LEARN TO DO.  These are my favorite aspects of the model. I enjoy that Panthers and Guides are encouraged at every step to be learners for life using a Growth Mindset.  The model incorporates creativity, problem solving, and reflection which connects to all my passions. I’ve found that there is so much more to learn and I am grateful for this experience.

Valine Zeigler, Head of School/Founder and Journey/MS Studio Guide

As a mother of three, my husband Eric and I, have always been deeply concerned about the state of American education and specifically the future happiness and well-being of our children.  We wanted our children to feel safe, supported, and be wholly seen.

Before homeschooling, I was a Language Arts Teacher within the Los Angeles Unified School District for 7 years;  I enjoyed serving as department chair, literacy coach, mentor teacher, and earned National Board Certification – a voluntary and rigorous certification process for showcasing excellence in education.

We began homeschooling when our oldest daughter was born in 2002. Fast forward ahead, two more children and 13 years later, other courageous families joined us. In response to the gentle nudging of a visionary friend, Empowered Minds Academy was founded Fall of 2016.


While homeschooling (actually around 2014), I began to follow Acton Academy, a learner-driven community out of Austin, Texas.  Like Acton, in my household, there was an intentional focus on hand-on learning, unstructured play, and project-based work. In the mornings, we started our days off with self-paced and self-led reading, writing, and math challenges that were placed in bins and completed throughout the morning. The afternoons were play-based and project-based.  Acton Academy and their learner-driven model, mission, and philosophy resonated with me powerfully. Like Acton, I too believe in equipping my children to master and manage themselves and their own learning.

I am passionate about sharing the learner-driven model with you, and as the founder of an Acton Academy Affiliate that centers Black learners and their families, I am even more excited!  For me personally, expressing this belief – “We believe that by un/dis-covering, reclaiming, and reconnecting with our truth will we better understand who we were, who we are, and who we must be.” – has been one the most affirming and life-changing experiences.

If you're ready to reinvent education for your family, you're invited you to...


Empowered Minds Academy: An Acton Academy Affiliate ©️ 2020

Share this: