Our team

Lauren Quinn

Co-Founder and Director

Lauren has long been involved in the Education world and is a lifelong learner and student herself. She received her B.A. in Communications from Villanova University and worked briefly in Sales and Recruiting before pursuing her path to education. As part of a highly competitive internship and scholarship program, Lauren worked and learned alongside master teachers at The Potomac School in McLean, VA while completing her M. Ed in Elementary Education from Marymount University in Arlington, VA. This would be the start of her life as passionate believer and advocate of learner-driven education.

Over the last ten years, Lauren has worked in various environments in both the independent and public sectors of education in Northern Virginia. She has served as a classroom teacher, instructional coach, and enrichment specialist. She has run a successful private tutoring company and has spent countless hours reading and researching best practices in education. Lauren defines success in her work with children when she is helping develop a growth mindset, building independence and self-awareness, and nurturing a deep and lifelong joy of learning.

As an educator and parent of two, Lauren is concerned about the learning experiences and the future of not only her children, but all children. Her belief in the remarkable abilities of young people is the true inspiration behind the founding of The Village School.

Christian Quinn


Christian has a strong belief in "learning by doing" evident in his own journey to entrepreneurship. He received his B.S. in Geography from Virginia Tech but credits his on- the-job carpentry experience with a general contractor throughout college as the place where he obtained some of his most valuable learning experiences. Over the past 12 years, Christian has run a successful residential construction company in the Northern Virginia area. As a self-employed business owner, he sees the principles of project-based learning played out on a daily basis.

In addition, Christian is a competitive mountain biker and enjoys fishing and camping with his family. He believes there is a huge disconnect between the natural world and children today and sees education as a way to bridge this divide. He feels a holistic approach to learning must include ample time outdoors for children to play, explore, and experience the world around them.

As a father to two active boys, Christian has seen first-hand how curiosity and freedom to learn by "doing" are essential tools for learning. He is excited for the opportunity to provide this type of learner-driven education for his own boys and for other families in the community.


Katey Kerns

Spark Studio Guide

Katey is passionate about education and believes that the only way to build a future of integrity and discovery is to teach these principles to the next generation. She has cultivated and grown her love for education working at various preschools in the Northern Virginia area and has a strong background in Montessori methods. She holds an Arts degree from The University of Mary Washington and has 5 years' experience in early education.

Growing up in Front Royal Virginia inspired Katey's love for the outdoors. She enjoys hiking and being on the Shenandoah river. In her free time she enjoys reading, listening to music, and going on adventures with her nieces and nephew.

Inspiring a curiosity and love of learning is Katey's goal as a guide. She looks forward to the opportunity to motivate the young heroes at The Village School to begin a personal exploration of themselves and the world around them.

Sarah Cottrill

Elementary Studio Guide

Sarah believes in the power of curiosity. Starting back in her own elementary school days, she followed her curiosity mainly through books: the adventures of Mr. Popper and his 12 penguins, the extraordinary world of A Wrinkle Through Time, and the prairie pastimes of Caddie Woodlawn. Her education continued through more formal outlets at Proctor Academy, and then Williams College, where she explored larger questions surrounding biology and neuroscience. Receiving her B.A., she taught science at a small independent school in the Boston area and delighted in encouraging her students' enthusiasm for science and learning.

Sarah firmly believes that given the right environment, every student's natural curiosity will flourish. Her mission as Elementary Guide will be to support each student in this exciting journey.

Hailing from New Hampshire, she is excited to join the Village School family and experience life in Annandale. Though she will miss the winter ski season, she is looking forward to playing soccer and biking year-round. She also plans to visit all the historic sites.

Meredith Carlton

Field Studies Coordinator/Support Guide

Meredith's background in education includes homeschooling her own children for four years, as well as involvement in local homeschool groups as a teacher, tutor, and administrator. She has studied and practiced multiple philosophies in education at home and in the classroom, and has grown a passion for seeking out ways to create a joyful learning experience for children. Through this journey, Meredith has come to believe in the power of self-directed learning--not just for academic progression, but also in the development of character and self-discipline. In 2017, she came across an article about Acton Academy's learner-driven communities, and has been hooked ever since!

Meredith grew up in Northern Virginia. She attended trade schools for cosmetology and massage therapy, followed by working at a salon and as a personal stylist until she had children. She now lives in Arlington with her husband, six children, two dogs, one cat, and some fish--surrounded by activity, creativity, questions, and investigations! In her "spare" time, she likes to put her feet up and read or watch Netflix. At the end of the day, one of her all-time favorite things is a good hug and "I love you, Mom!" from her kids.

Our Advisors

Laura Sandefer


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. After being awarded the highly competitive Walter Wattles Fellowship at Lloyd’s of London, Laura worked in the aviation insurance industry in New York City. Deciding to follow her calling into the world of education, Laura returned to Nashville and earned her Master of Education at Peabody College. This led her to her work at the Oklahoma Arts Institute, creating fine arts education programs for teachers and talented high school students.

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


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 Entrepeneurship 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 in the nation. In 2012 The Economist honored him as one of the top fifteen Business School professors in the world.

Jeff is a graduate of the Harvard Business School, where he served for over twenty years on the school's governing committees. He was a longtime director of the Philanthropy Roundtable and National Review magazine and one of the youngest members ever elected to the Texas Business Hall of Fame.