Julie Marquez

Acton Academy Anacortes co-founder

Have you ever heard a quiet voice calling you to action, ignored it, and then found it won’t go away? Or have you been stirred by a classic tale from Star Wars or Pilgrim’s Progress or dug deeply into the Jungian nature of your dreams? If so, you understand the romance of a Hero’s Journey.

The Hero's Journey is the narrative pattern in many foundational myths, from religion to classical literature to drama to popular culture. A protagonist heeds a call to adventure, leaves behind his or her ordinary world, overcomes great challenges and opposition, seizes the Grail and returns home, having been transformed. In the end, it is not the Grail that matters, but the way the hero is changed in the process.

Now it’s time for me to share my Hero’s Journey. I use the first three of the Pixar story prompts write the story of how I came to Acton Academy:

  • Once upon a time (my back story)

  • Every day (my ordinary world where something was missing)

  • Until one day (what moment did I decide to accept the call?)


At Acton Academy, we believe each person who enters our doors is a genius who deserves to find a calling that will change the world. The Hero’s Journey is the narrative glue that holds our tribe together, as individuals in a community setting out to change the world in an important way.

Julie Hero's Journey.MOV

November 4, 2022


Connie Colleen Wyatt, OTR/L, ECHM, MSOT

Acton Academy Anacortes co-founder and Head of School

I couldn’t stick with the status quo any longer. Change doesn’t happen sticking with the status quo. Deep down inside, I think most of us can agree that public schools are not preparing our young heroes for the world in which we now live. We want independent thinkers and world changers, ones that are not afraid to ask and discuss tough questions openly with no qualms about getting the ‘wrong’ answer. I do not want to raise my children to be compliant adults who can’t complete a task without step by step instructions given by an authority figure.

It all started with reading the book, “Courage to Grow”, by Laura Sandefer recommended to me by my co-founder Julie Marquez. It introduced a new way of education that was the exact opposite of the traditional schooling that I received. Yet, in the same breath, it was incredibly intuitive. The stories within stirred something in my soul that I couldn’t let go of. I wanted to learn more about this community. Before I knew it, Julie and I were attending orientation to become Acton Academy affiliates and co-founders and observing other Acton affiliates. The humans we interacted with during orientation were pushing for the same changes within their communities across the world. They were driven, hardworking, and desired something different for their children, just like us. How refreshing!

Julie and I are relatively new to the parenting world, as our children are 5 and under. I am not one to stir the pot because confrontation is my nemesis, but the way that we do public ‘education’ in the US today is backwards. And yet, most just seem to go with the flow. Why? Why do we accept that learning to a test and academic ‘standards’ have nothing to do with learning to do, learning to be and learning to learn? Learning to know is what the public school system provides us and almost within seconds, we can know anything we want to know. The Acton philosophy pushes mastery over memory and gaining that mastery with tribe mates cheering you on and challenging you each step of the way.

As a student of the public school system, I graduated with honors and knew exactly what I needed to do to FIRST get exactly the grades that I needed to get to THEN get into the college that I needed to get into to THEN get into the masters program that I needed to get into to FINALLY get my license as an occupational therapist. I knew at 14 that I wanted to be an occupational therapist. Why then, could I not enter grad school at 14 and come out with a masters of science in occupational therapy? Why did I have to go through all the educational rigor of getting my bachelors and high school degree?

I would argue that I would have been more prepared and motivated for grad school at age 14 than age 24 when I finally got started on my desired career path. Wouldn’t it have been a tragedy if I had come that far only to find out it wasn’t the career for me? Isn’t this an all too familiar scenario?

For the record, I have no regrets about the journey of my life thus far. I have been on many grand adventures and have developed lifelong friendships along the way. I am just wondering why we don’t trust 16, 17, 18 year olds as much as we trust 24 year olds? You might think it is an absurd question, but think about it? One might say, well, I want my children to enjoy their youth hood/childhood as long as possible before having to get a real job. That is all well and good, but is that what our children and youth desire? Did you ask them? Why do you want them to enjoy their youth hood? Because ‘real’ life and jobs are no fun? What are we teaching our young heroes? Are we teaching them that adulthood is a big bore?

My hero’s journey as an Acton Academy co-founder is just beginning, but I am grateful for this journey as it has already stretched me into my challenge or discomfort zone. A zone our society is not in enough with mind-numbing comforts surrounding us everywhere we go. An Acton family's hero’s journey is not for the faint of heart, but I can promise you that LIFE is not for the faint of heart - we might as well make it a spectacularly memorable and soul-stretching experience. Right?