Our Team

Happy Bell-Wiatrek

Founder and Lead Guide

Happy felt called to spend her days with young learners. Before launching Expedition: An Acton Academy, she was an educator for 27 years. Happy has taught in public and independent schools in Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina. She has also taught at prestigious, private international schools in Budapest, Hungary and Hong Kong, China.


Always a curious learner herself, Happy has earned certifications in Elementary and Special Education, English as a Second Language Teacher and Trainer, Gifted & Talented, and Orton-Gillingham Classroom Educator. 


Inspired by watching her daughter follow her passion for ballet and become a professional ballerina, Happy left traditional education and launched Expedition: An Acton Academy so that all learners could follow their true destiny and become world-changers.

Jeff Sandefer

Advisor and Acton Academy Co-Founder

Jeff Sandefer lives a dual life as an entrepreneur and a Socratic Guide. As an entrepreneur, he founded his first company at age 16 and went on to found, or co-found, seven successful businesses. As a Socratic teacher at the University of Texas, Jeff's students voted him five times the school's Outstanding Teacher, and Businessweek named him on 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 long-time director of the Philanthropy Roundtable and National Review magazine and one of the youngest members ever elected to the Texas Business Hall of Fame. 

Laura Sandefer

Advisor and Acton Academy Co-Founder

Laura lived on both US coasts and in between as a child, then settled into Vanderbilt University for her undergraduate studies in the College of Arts and Science. After being awarded the highly competitive Walter Wattles Fellowship at Lloyd's of London, Laura worked in the aviation insurance industry in New York City.


Deciding to follow her calling into the world of education, Laura returned to Nashville and earned her Master of Education at Peabody College. This led her to continue her work at the Oklahoma Arts Institute, creating fine arts education programs for teachers and talented high school students.


Laura married Jeff Sandefer and is the happy mother of Sam and Charlie, and step-mother to Taite. It is the inspiration of these 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."