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Our 'Why?'

Mother on a Mission to Resuscitate True Education

Meet the Co-Founder: Rashmi

Having a profound reverence for the infinite potential that children possess is the mark of an inspired society. This philosophy has served as a compass for our family.

As a pediatrician, it is my privilege to interact with children and families on their own uniquely magnificent life journeys. These connection points sparked within me a genuine appreciation of the endless potential in our children - the torchbearers of tomorrow.

Fortunate to have studied at one of the rare learner-driven medical schools in the country, I experienced a self-paced and self-inspired educational modality first-hand. A model which included open brainstorming, peer to peer and team collaboration, a platform of personal relevance, exploration based on questions raised (rather than textbook answers), all of which could not have been further from the traditional lecture-based rote learning in medical schools across the country.

We have been blessed with two dynamic sons (who teach us something new every day) who drove my passion to become a homeschool educator in a Montessori environment and to initiate a model similar to one I experienced in medical school. In 2016, we began the initial steps of launching The Ethos School. Since then, we have been dreaming of coming one step closer to a society that flourishes in the sacred gifts that children have to share with the world of today and tomorrow. We are deeply grateful to have been exposed to and involved in processes of self-examination since childhood that have nurtured our thoughts and cultivated our understanding of character. We are indefinitely indebted to these opportunities.

My husband and I have enjoyed studying Eastern and Western philosophers of education - the curiosity of what could be had been sparked. We wanted our children to develop a courageous identity, such that they can confidently stand on their own feet. We wanted them to run to school with excitement and curiosity to discovery their natural gifts. We wanted to turn up the volume on what is possible in the 7 hours/day they spend at school. We wanted enough freedom so that they can move at their own pace, but still be challenged and engaged in a way that builds intrinsic motivation. We have set out to re-define what education is and can be, with innovation ever-evolving at The Ethos School (a non-profit organization dedicated to serving children and families).

Nurturing the mind, body, and spirit of a child has been the guiding compass for our family's decisions. Our goal is to create a strong community of like-minded, intentional families and to have a sacred, creative space where children can thrive and embark on a journey of life-oriented learning. 


“The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life.”



Ankit Patel

Co-Founder, Board Chairman

Dr. Ankit Patel is a double-board certified physician in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Brain Injury Medicine. He relishes working in a learning and research environment at Duke University Medical Center in the Orthopedics Department. He has a deep passion for comparative philosophy, self-development, and is looking forward to a new experiment in education.

He espouses Socrates' philosophy: "All I know is that I know nothing."

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Ms. Rashmi

Co-Founder, Director, Socratic Guide

Dr. Rashmi Patel's passion lies at the intersection of pediatrics and education. As a board-certified pediatrician, she felt fortunate to serve as a Clinical Instructor at the Brody School of Medicine to explore Academic Pediatrics and develop alternative education programs for residents & medical students. She enjoys being a learner of life and learner for life. 

One of her leading principles as a guide is reflected in Socrates' quote: "I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think."


Ms. Kim

Discovery Studio Guide

Ms. Kim has been teaching for 19 years and holds AMS Montessori certification in Lower Elementary (ages 6-9 years). She received the Best Teacher Award in 2022. See her feature here: 

Her favorite Montessori quote is, "Our care of the child should not be governed by the desire to 'make them learn things', but by the endeavor to keep burning within them the light which is called intelligence."  


Ms. Debra

Spark Studio Guide

Ms. Debra has been teaching for over 25 years and holds AMS Montessori certification for children ages 18 months-3 years, 3-6 years, and 6-9 years. She has had a beautiful and comprehensive career as a guide, former director, former school founder, as well as former teacher educator through the American Montessori Society.

Her favorite quote to illustrate Montessori's philosophy is to "Follow the child."


Grant Thomas

Naturalist Guide

Grant grew up in Durham tumbling through the forests and creeks of the Piedmont. He has dedicated over half of his life to creating opportunities for children's imagination, creativity, and nature to be cherished and celebrated outdoors. Grant helped design and lead award-winning nature programs across the Triangle and now enjoys being the Director of Nature Explorers.

Ethos heroes have a blast during our Naturalist Program being immersed in nature while foraging, exploring wildlife, building forts, hearing Native American nature-based folklore, and more!

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Laura Sandefer

Advisor, Author of Courage To Grow

Laura Sandefer decided to follow her calling after a successful corporate career and dove into the world of education. She earned her Master of Education and created fine arts education programs for teachers and talented high school students.
It is the inspiration of her 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”.

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Jeff Sandefer


Jeff Sandefer lives a dual life as an entrepreneur and a Socratic Guide. 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 Entrepreneurship 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.

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