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Passion Led Us Here

Our journey into education began as parents seeking better opportunities for our three daughters. After witnessing the proverbial light go out of our eldest’s eyes when she moved to a traditional learning environment, we knew we needed to help her recapture the joy and curiosity she once had in learning. Looking into innovative learning designs and committed to supporting our children in becoming lifelong and confident learners, we eagerly accepted the challenge of creating a school. 

ARC is the result of this process: a solid foundation in childhood development; a focus on the key role of nature in well-being; and a clear aim to equip young people for an uncertain future; it is our mission to help grow the unique potential in every child.

ARC Studio School is modelled first on Acton Academy, an inspirational learner-driven school originating in Austin, Texas. ARC is also inspired by the Forest and Nature School movement and the work of various innovative schools aimed at helping learners develop 21st-century skills. We are thrilled to embark on this leg of our family’s journey and eager to offer our children and yours the opportunity to discover their true passions and thrive in an ever-changing world.


The secret of change is to focus all of your energy,
not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

– Socrates –

Meet The Team

Megan Lelli

Co-founder, Head of School & Founding Guide

Megan is a psychiatrist who has specialized in Early Childhood Mental Health. After working in community clinics in B.C. and Ontario, Megan co-founded a group practice in Gatineau, QC. Her focus always on prevention and early intervention, Megan enjoys supporting children and parents in finding and growing their strengths as individuals and as a family.


Megan graduated from the University of Waterloo with a BSc in Health Science; the University of Ottawa with an MSc in Epidemiology and Community Medicine; McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine with an M.D.; and completed a residency in Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa.

Michael Lelli


Michael grew up in an entrepreneurial family, spending most of his formative years working in the family restaurant. He went on to work at several restaurants in Hamilton and Ottawa before founding his own catering company, “The Green Gourmet”. After 7 successful years, Michael took the opportunity of a family move across the country to reconnect with his love of the creative and technical and retrained as a UX Designer. He brings to ARC both an entrepreneurial spirit and a keen eye for design, always looking to improve on the last iteration in the service of the customer.


Michael graduated from McMaster University with a BSc in Physics and holds UX and UI Design certification from RED Academy.

Penny Moran
Penny's head shot.jpeg

Founding Guide

Penny joins ARC with over 15 years experience as an educator. She first worked as a Youth Addiction Counsellor and then spent 8+ years teaching Geography and Physical Education. After discovering Richard Louv’s book "Last Child in the Woods" she made it her goal to get students learning outdoors as often as possible. A move to Newfoundland and Labrador gave Penny the opportunity to supervise youth-led environmental projects, including community gardening, river remediation, waste management, and educational climate change initiatives. Since her return to Ontario, Penny has spent 4 years facilitating at a Forest School, discovering the benefits of child-led, risky play in the outdoors.

Penny graduated from Western University with a B.Ed. and a BA in Psychology with minors in Kinesiology, Geography and Philosophy.

Laura Sandefer

Advisor, Acton Academy Co-founder

Laura lived on both US coasts and in between as a child, then settled into Vanderbilt University for her undergraduate studies in the College of Arts and Science. Eventually deciding to follow her calling into the world of education, Laura earned her Master of Education at Peabody College. This led her to her work at the Oklahoma Arts Institute creating fine arts education programs.


Laura married Jeff Sandefer and is the happy mother of Sam and Charlie and step-mother to Taite. It is the inspiration of these children that led Laura and Jeff to co-found Acton Academy.


Her greatest hero is her mother who was a Master Teacher. Her wisest mentor is her father who sent her off to college with two words of advice: "Be curious."

Jeff Sandefer

Advisor, Acton Academy Co-founder

Jeff Sandefer lives a dual life as an entrepreneur and a Socratic Guide. As an entrepreneur, he founded his first company at age 16 and went on to found or co-found seven successful businesses. As a Socratic teacher at the University of Texas, Jeff’s students five times voted him the school’s Outstanding Teacher and Businessweek named him one of the top Entrepreneurship professors in America.


Jeff went on to co-found the Acton School of Business, an MBA program perennially ranked by the Princeton Review among the best, and in 2012, The Economist honored him as one of the top fifteen Business School professors in the world.

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