Session 1. Week 3. Year 23/24

This week, heroes were invited to add running partners to their studio experience.  As Guides, all systems and tools are offered as choices, and must not be installed by the adult (For instance, running partners were resolutely rejected last year! 😂).

As part of the invitation, they were invited to watch this video to learn about the benefits of running partners (They appreciated listening to other Acton learners talk about the benefits.).  Next, they set goals together and verified one another’s goals as S.M.A.R.T.

As part of a series of running partner games designed to practice “encouraging and cheering their running partners on through struggle”, they took turns building a card tower.  At the end of the week, heroes enjoyed a running partner contract signing party and 30 minutes of computer games to celebrate their new commitment.  Finally, they closed out the week with running partner meetings to reflect on their accomplishments and struggles.

By popular demand, Discovery Studio added a new system to their studio – The Panther Buck System.  This currency is one of the self-governance and peer-to-peer accountability tools in an Acton learner-driven community like Empowered Minds.


The purpose? “To empower Panthers to find and use their voices to resolve conflicts with kindness and keep EMA a happy and safe place for learning. The system is designed to reduce anxiety, give clear and objective support to all Panthers, and equip each Panther into growing healthy interpersonal skills through interacting with each other.”

To build a foundation (because setting boundaries is hard work!), learners practiced with paper Panther Bucks, fun roleplays, and discussed: What will be most important – why they are asking me for a Panther Buck, or how they are asking? and, What will be most challenging – respecting the covenant and holding myself accountable or using my voice to hold my peers accountable?


Here’s to practicing warm-hearted firmness, and showing commitment to upholding their promises! 

More team-building games are an essential part of building a tribe and creating a community culture, because a tribe that plays together, works hard and struggles together!

The Trust Walk and the Human Pipeline remind heroes that:  We are all on our own Hero’s Journey, but we share a space and we make promises TOGETHER.  It is part of our commitment to the tribe to remind one another when we are off track, even when it’s hard.”

Below, heroes are reminded that “conflict is inevitable” as they were invited to their process feelings after a conflict.

On Friday, heroes chose to collectively earn an outing to Durham Central Park after completing “excellent” studio maintenance.

Heroes voted to add new promises to practice and add to their final contract.  One included, “I will be honest with myself and others.”

A Core Skills snapshot of independent choice, self-paced work, and focused concentration, or what heroes call “being in the flow”.

Here’s to Week 4!  


Heroes will be equipped to lead themselves in resolving conflicts and transforming their relationships and nominating and voting for their council members.


The Discovery Studio Blog and Spark Studio Journal provide context, insight, and an occasional love note for parents and caregivers.  We hope you arrive curious and leave with inspiration for your own Hero’s Journey.


Spark/Montessori Studio


“The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.”  Maria Montessori

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Empowered Minds: An Acton Academy  ©️ 2023