Meet our team members.
Dr. Si Yi (Jenny) Wang
Co-Founder, Head of School
Jenny was born in Taipei, Taiwan and moved to Hong Kong as a young child before leaving to attend Groton School, a New England boarding school, at 13 years old. She stayed on in Massachusetts for her undergraduate studies at Wellesley College, where she received numerous grants, such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant, and graduated a year early after studying abroad in Australia. She then worked as an environmental consultant before going to Duke University for her Ph.D. in Ecology. At Duke, Jenny again won several grants, such as the Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation.
After the birth of her first child, Jenny returned to Asia to join the family business, leading her to launch startups in real estate and education in Beijing, China before leaving the smog in search of ‘greener skies’ in Taiwan. Jenny decided to undertake her latest adventure – launching Acton Academy Taipei – after her daughter’s early experiences with conventional schools in Taipei left the family yearning for a better option.
Stuart Ross Hayward
Co-Founder and Lead Guide
Stuart was born and raised in Surrey, England and attended Liverpool University for his undergraduate studies in Marine Biology before moving onto University College London for his Masters in Conservation Biology. He then worked for a number of years in environmental consulting in London, where he advised private companies and government agencies on hazardous materials management and mitigation. After marrying Jenny and moving to China, Stuart decided to follow his passion for education, becoming certified as a teacher.
Stuart has mentored numerous young people outside of his work as a teacher and has found that these interactions based on real world, hands-on projects are the most inspiring and meaningful; traditional schools too often get in the way of real connection and learning. Stuart is passionate about the Acton Academy model of helping students ‘find a calling that will change the world.’
Jeff is an entrepreneur and a Socratic teacher. As an entrepreneur, he began by starting his first company at age 16 and most recently sold Sandefer Capital, an energy investment firm with several billion dollars in assets.
As a teacher, he cofounded the Acton School of Business, a school dedicated to America’s next generation of principled entrepreneurs and famous for its 100-hour work weeks.
The Princeton Review has consistently ranked Acton’s teachers, students, and program among the best in the country. While at the University of Texas, Jeff’s students voted him the school’s Most Outstanding Teacher five times, and he was named by Businessweek as one of the top entrepreneurship professors in America. He also cofounded Acton Academy (Austin), where he is a middle school lead guide.
Jeff has been a longtime board member of National Review, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, The Philanthropy Roundtable, and the Harvard Business School and is one of the youngest members ever elected to the Texas Business Hall of Fame.
Laura is cofounder and head of school of Acton Academy (Austin). Raised by a science teacher and minister, Laura lived on both coasts and in between as a child and then landed at Vanderbilt University for her undergraduate studies in the College of Arts and Science.
After working in London and New York City in the aviation insurance business, Laura yearned to follow her heart into the world of teaching.
She went back to Vanderbilt's renowned Peabody College and received her Master of Education. This led her to work in arts education at the Oklahoma Arts Institute. Laura later married Jeff Sandefer and has two sons and a stepdaughter. It is the inspiration of these children that led Laura and Jeff to cofound Acton Academy.
Her greatest hero is her beloved late mother, who was a master teacher as none other. Her wisest mentor is her father, who sent her off to college with two words of advice: "Be curious."