Laura Sandefer

It felt like it happened overnight.

One day we were all at school, laughing, learning, competing in sports, and playing together.

The next day, the world got sick. Schools closed. Businesses shuttered. People lost jobs. Hospitals looked like war zones. And we all quarantined in our homes—with no end date in sight—as the only defense against the mysterious, mighty virus.
Soon our vocabularies changed to include words like pandemic, coronavirus, social distancing, Zoom, flattening the curve, and essential errands.

Drawing upon a Masai warrior greeting, “Kasserian Ingera,” I wondered, “And how are the children?”

Although I could see the faces of our Acton Eagles in our virtual discussion rooms each day, I wondered how their hearts and souls were doing. What words would they use to describe this life we were living in isolation from our tightly knit community?

I shouldn’t have been surprised with their responses to my question, “How are you and what are you doing to cope?” because children always surprise me.

But this time my surprise was different. It was deeper and felt more like an awakening.

Rather than expressing fear, anxiety, boredom, or stress, these young people ranging in age from 7 to 18 years old shared answers of hope, joy, fun, and perseverance. Not one complaint or grumble. And their parents followed suit, with delight.

Their ideas became this little book—our community’s ABC’s of a pandemic. Families chose a letter and shared their inspiration—each one celebrated here with the beautiful artwork of Acton mom, Elena Coggin, whose children inspired each piece.

We hope these pages feed your soul and spark your own creative ways to respond when your journey gets dark and difficult.

To purchase a copy of this book, in digital or paperback form, please visit:

Co-founder and Chief Encourager for Acton Academy


Laura Sandefer is an author and the co-founder of Acton Academy, a school whose learner-driven model is spreading across the globe with over 130 locations in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Guatemala, Canada, Malaysia and more, and in 2019 is celebrating 10 years of letting children take learning into their owns hands.

Acton Academy bases their model of learning on the Hero’s Journey: a story pattern common in ancient myths and modern day adventures in which a hero goes on an adventure, wins a victory and comes home transformed. Children at Acton Academy know why they are being challenged to learn — they are on their own Hero’s Journey to find their passion in life.

Acton Academy and Sandefer have been featured in the Austin American Statesman, Inc., Forbes, National Review, Huffington Post and more. Sandefer has a bachelor of arts and masters of education degrees from Vanderbilt University. She currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, children and three dogs.