How Does Art Live On? 8th Grade Class Gift

The eighth grade class at Almond Acres is currently posing the question, “How does art live on?”  Throughout this project-based learning unit, the students have researched artists and their artwork to uncover the impact art has on our society and our souls.  

Using a project-based learning model during this educational unit is more meaningful for students.  They have incorporated science, history, art, literature, English language, technology, and math while attempting to answer the core question.  

To help answer the question, “How does art live on?” students and their families toured the Allegretto Vineyard Resort in Paso Robles.  This beautiful retreat hotel was designed with art as a focal point.  The tour was led by the site designer, Doug Ayers.  

Allegretto Hotel chairs

Every detail of the resort was constructed with the idea of bringing harmony to visitors.  The students saw collections from all over the world, with different mediums, from different eras.  From lighting fixtures to paintings, furniture, chapels, monoliths, sculptures, and water features, every piece had a story and a purpose.

We asked Charlotte Reid, Middle School ELA teacher at Almond Acres Charter Academy to share with us her insights as to what the eighth graders are creating and why — for the new AACA school in Paso Robles, opening in fall 2021. 

1. Why did you tour the Allegretto Hotel? Where did you focus your time and attention on the hotel grounds?
“Mr. B set up the tours with the owner, Doug Ayers, when he heard about our Art Unit in 8th grade. Doug Ayers has spent years traveling the world and visiting sacred places. He has also studied many different traditions of architecture and decorating, which he has used to create an aesthetically pleasing and peaceful resort. Much of the artistic pieces come from around the world (such as doors from India and a carved statue in the chapel), from the earth (many crystals and a giant slice of a redwood), and even local artists. He showed us the massive chandelier in the entry which he had commissioned – it represents the energy patterns/centers in and around the human body (also called chakras). We saw the beautiful chapel he designed to allow the sun to fall through specific windows during the solstices. The walls are specially made from ground marble or quartz which is mixed into a plaster – it is similar to plastering found in Italy and has a shimmer to it that is quite lovely. He has created several labyrinths for meditation. He has the first audio labyrinth which has different harmonious sounds that help balance energy during the walk through the labyrinth. Every small detail of this resort was intentionally created by Doug Ayers.”

Allegretto Hotel labyrinth

2. What is the goal of this family art tour? How did this time inform the 8th graders’ group project?
Originally, we would have gone on a field trip into Paso where we would have visited art around town and the art studios where students could talk with the artists themselves. However, because of Covid, we had to come up with an alternative. Mr. B arranged an art tour for families to attend that would give them some insight into different types of art, architecture, and design. Students have been researching different artists, art movements, and art forms as part of their unit which asks the question: “Does art enhance our lives?” For this unit, students will be developing a personal mission statement and then creating a piece of art which embodies this mission statement. 

Students will also use the information they have researched and learned from the Allegretto tour to create/develop a group piece of art for the new school. This will be part of their graduation/promotion from 8th grade.”

Kenichi Parkhurst, an Almond Acres 8th grader on the trip added, “It was really cool to see such a large collection and variety of art in one place. The pieces fit together so well that it was like looking at one big collage.”

3. What are the 8th graders going to build/create for the new PR school building? Can that be revealed at this time?Students have not started to design the art piece for the new school site. However, it will be in the new courtyard. “ 

Allegretto Hotel chapel

4. What else should we know about this fantastic undertaking by the ‘big kids” of AACA?
This will be their contribution to the new school as the first students who started at AACA in kindergarten and are graduating from 8th grade.” 

Because Almond Acres Charter Academy knows that learning is most impactful when creativity is involved, the eighth-grade class will use the knowledge they acquired while touring the Allegretto for an amazing project!  As their gift to future Almond Acres families, the students are helping design the atrium at the new school site in Paso Robles.  This beautiful expression of art will consist of many different features, providing a warm welcome to all who enter the school. Find out more about Almond Acres Charter Academy today! 

About Almond Acres

Almond Acres is relocating to Paso Robles. Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Open to all students in all communities, the school is currently located in San Miguel and moving to Paso Robles for the 2021-22 school year. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids!

New Almond Acres facility in Paso Robles under construction

Almond Acres Charter Academy, a tuition-free K-8 charter school, is currently offering open enrollment through March 15 as the school undergoes construction of its new 32,000 square foot facility, located at 1145 Niblick Road in Paso Robles, at the site of a former church facility.

Almond Acres has been teaching students in San Luis Obispo County at its original San Miguel location since 2012. The school will mark its 10-year anniversary this fall at its new Paso Robles location.

The new school is being built with an emphasis on “functionality to support Almond Acres’ educational model of educating the whole child,” a news release from the school says. In conceptualizing the design of the new school space, Bob Bourgault, director of Almond Acres, referenced studies showing that academic achievement thrives when teachers collaborate.

“We are extremely motivated to provide a learning environment that incites in our students a passion and desire to learn, and empowers them to be the very best version of themselves,” said Bourgault. “We are confident that our new school will provide the perfect venue for nurturing project-based learning, service learning, and meaningful educational experiences. These are the keys to unlocking outstanding learning and student success.”

Artist rendering of Almond Acres Charter Academy

The physical focus of the school building “emphasizes dynamic space usage to support teacher collaboration.” The design of the school’s classrooms will allow teachers to freely access classrooms, from one to the other, and interspersed group meeting rooms will allow up to four teachers to easily collaborate ad hoc or in scheduled meetings.

Special education services will also be seamless in the new building. This will result in special education students spending less time away from core class environments, eliminating any stigma with leaving class.

Almond Acres’ new internal courtyard opens skyward and includes fountains and natural elements. The multipurpose room serves varied needs, including a gymnasium for athletics and an internal collapsible wall allowing both spaces (the gym and central courtyard) to hold 500-800 people for events. Surrounding the gym is an atrium and hallway to buffer sound. Designing the gym to be inside the core of the building will also keep all K-8 children safe.

The intentional design layout for Almond Acres’ classrooms and where they are located within the school aligns with grade level and developmental milestones. The kindergarten and first grade classrooms are the largest, allowing plenty of room for young children to move. Classrooms for grades 2-3 and 4-5 will be located side-by-side, respectively, with shared collapsible classroom walls to integrate subject areas and share teacher expertise and passions.

Almond Acres’ middle school is housed in two wings at the front of the new school building. One wing will focus on the humanities – language arts and social sciences – and will include a college library-inspired space. The other middle school wing is for STEM and STEAM classes (science and art) and includes a creativity lab.

Outside of the school structure, the Almond Acres playground is lower than building-level which creates a natural amphitheater. The fields are completely ADA compatible and boast access on all sides. The entire school is circled by a drop off lane for easy pickup and drop off; though external classroom doors can only be opened from the inside. This design video showcases Almond Acres’ design, and this video provided by DLW Architects also illustrates the perimeter of the building along with outdoor spaces within the structure.

“It’s so exciting, and symbolic, that the groundbreaking and construction of our new school coincides with our open enrollment period,” said Ed Surber, Almond Acres board member. “The buzz and excitement is palpable and seeing the surge of interest in Almond Acres is proof that we are doing what’s right for our community. If anyone is considering joining the Almond Acres family, now is the best time!”

“At Almond Acres Charter Academy, student learning informs everything we do,” added Bourgault. “We even toured the nearby Allegretto Hotel with our 8th graders for inspiration on how to incorporate art into our building. They’re tasked with creating and designing our entry atrium welcoming one and all to our 21st century school designed with student learning front of mind.”

For more about Almond Acres Charter Academy and the new building in Paso Robles, opening for the 2021-2022 school year, call (805) 467-2095.

Via Paso Robles Daily News

How to Find the Best School in Paso Robles, California

How to Find the Best School in Paso Robles, California

Parents either contemplating transferring their child to a new school or searching for a school for the first time are likely to have plenty of questions. How much choice do we have? What options are available for schooling? What factors should I consider in choosing a school? And so on.

Parents who want to find the best school in Paso Robles, California will have plenty of options as the number of school choices generally increased over the last few years. Many, however, also find it difficult to choose the best school for their child given the abundance of options. Here’s a guide on finding the best school for your child in Paso Robles, California.

Assessing Your Needs

The first step in selecting a school for your child is to assess his or her needs as well as your family’s requirements. Keep in mind the personality of your child as a quiet and shy child will likely do better in small class size or a smaller school. If your child is showing potential in either music, sports, or science and math, then it might be better to enroll him or her in a school that has programs in special areas. 

Ask yourself these questions. How much importance do you place on proximity? Is it necessary that the school is located either at your workplace or near your home? Do you require a school that offers before and after school care?

Knowing Your Options

Parents have different choices depending on their location and the supply and demand for some schools. For example, some schools will have more applicants than the number of students they can actually take in. Or it could be difficult to transfer the child to a highly popular school located outside Paso Robles city.

Parents can choose from different kinds of schools. Below are the choices.

Considering neighborhood schools in Paso Robles, CA?

Many parents often prioritize getting their child into the neighborhood school. If this is the case, then it is best to check your local district’s rules and boundaries to know which school your kid will likely be assigned to. You should also find out the rules for attending other schools such as magnet schools, charter schools, or schools within your local district or outside of it.

Considering magnet schools in Paso Robles, CA?

Magnet schools are also offered in various school districts. These are schools that provide specialized education in various areas such as sciences and math, technology, or arts. Some magnet schools also have different structural organizations like operating on a year-round schedule or mixing various grade levels in one classroom. Magnet schools do not have to comply with neighborhood boundary rules. They also attract students throughout and outside the school district.

Considering charter schools in Paso Robles, CA?  

Public education has transformed in recent years and one of the significant changes in the growth of charter schools. These are public schools that are free from the traditional school regulations set by the state. Charter schools are governed instead by charter agreements approved by local school boards, which means that they can be shut down if they fail to meet the requirements of their charter. Parents can send their children to charter schools within or outside their school districts as charter school enrollment does not follow neighborhood boundaries. Charter schools with high demand typically use the lottery system to determine eligibility to attend.

Considering private schools in Paso Robles, CA?

Private schools, unlike public ones, do not receive funding from the government. They also craft their own criteria for eligibility and admission. Their teaching methodology, curriculum, and enrollment procedures are also set by its board of directors, principal, teachers. Private schools can also hire teachers without credentials.

Considering alternative schools in Paso Robles, CA?

Alternative schools are typically schools that have different education philosophies from traditional schools and programs. Usually, these schools have small class sizes and offer emotional and social development or a self-paced curriculum. The term alternative school is used to describe a wide range of schools. As such, it is best to ask why a particular alternative school you’re interested in has been classified as an alternative.

Research the School

After narrowing the choices, you can start researching the schools’ profile, teacher-student ratio, test scores, and ethnic make-up, among others. You can also check parent reviews if there are any to get feedback on leadership, management, and quality of teachers so you can compare your choices better.

You can also consider visiting the campus as no amount of research and reading can replace the insights to be gained in checking out the school physically. A short visit where you are armed with the right questions and a list of things to check out will help you make a well-informed decision.

You can create a list of features that you wish for in the future school of your child. Below are some of the basic features to look for according to the U.S Department of Education website:

  • High-quality teachers and staff
  • High expectations
  • Rigorous curriculum
  • Busy, visible children
  • A great welcome for visiting parents
  • The openness of staff and management to answer questions
  • Robust parent-teacher association

Below are some questions you might want to ask during the school visit.

  • How do you train, support, and monitor teachers?
  • How much homework do you give to students?
  • How do you handle the behavioral problems of students at the school?

Take the time to think and list down the questions you want to be answered during the school visit. Write them down so you don’t forget to ask them.

Check Enrollment Procedures and Applications for Schools in Paso Robles, CA

After you’ve made a choice, then find out about enrollment requirements. Public schools usually require your child’s immunization, and health records, and proof of address. If you are going for the neighborhood school, then make sure to research all the paperwork needed for enrollment in Paso Robles city as well as application deadlines.

In the end, it’s not easy to find the best school for your child given the many choices and the different variables at play for parents. It is necessary to take the time to know the different options, narrow them down according to your requirements, and research thoroughly each school in your narrowed list. Don’t forget to consider your child’s needs as it is a crucial factor in choosing his or her school.


Guide to Charter Schools Paso Robles, California

Guide to Charter Schools Paso Robles, California

Are you a parent in search of school options for your kids in Paso Robles, California?

2020 brought many changes to every aspect of our daily lives including children’s education. The massive changes in K-12 education given the COVID-19 pandemic are forcing parents to look for other education options for their kids.

It can be quite challenging to make the right choice regarding kids’ schooling given the many available choices to parents such as online schools, local public schools, private schools, and public charter schools.

This article is meant to guide parents to empower them to make the best choices for their children. This post will answer questions such as “What are public charter schools?” “What tuition free public schools are available in Paso Robles, California” and “What’s the process for enrolling a student in a charter school?”

What is a Tuition-Free Public Charter School in California?

Charter schools are basically public schools that offer instruction in any combination of grades, which can be anywhere from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade. Community members like teachers, community members, and parents can start a petition for a charter school. The local school district’s governing board is usually tasked to study and approve such petitions. Under the California Education Code (EC), the State Board of Education and county boards of education can become charter authorizing entities.

Charter schools as they are also public schools, receive funding from the state. They also have better flexibility in various aspects of the school’s management functions such as curriculum management, hiring, and other functions. Most charter schools are run by an organization under their self-appointed boards while traditional public schools are being managed by school districts with a board-appointed superintendent and elected school board.

Simply put, charter schools have more independence than traditional public schools, allowing them more leeway to experiment and craft instructional and other innovations.

What Tuition-Free Public Charter Schools are Available For Kids in Paso Robles, California?

Parents in search of a tuition-free public charter school in Paso Robles, California can inquire with Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA). It is a K-8 charter school offering students a strong and inspiring support system. The school takes pride in providing a project-based curriculum and high-quality learning with the help of passionate and highly-experienced teachers. 

Our simple mission is to put students first. Almond Acres celebrates the uniqueness of each child by designing lessons based on the many ways a child can learn and identifying how children are smart, not just how smart they are. We value students for who they are now and who they hope to become and we take advantage of our small class sizes to build solid, affirming relationships that help students grow into the best version of themselves. 

In addition to an innovative project-based approach, we use research-backed practices to teach reading, writing, and math fundamentals. Arts and sciences, leadership, technology, and unwavering student support are all included in our curriculum. Our service learning projects connect students to the local community, creating a bridge between schooling and life.

Are There Other Tuition-Free and Public Charter Schools Available in Paso Robles?

You can choose to apply and enroll your children in a tuition-free, public charter school even if it is outside your school district. Paso Robles charter schools do not have to comply with boundary school rules. Thus, parents in Paso Robles, San Miguel, North County and San Luis Obispo County can opt for the charter school of their choice and not worry about breaking district rules. California laws state that charter schools admit any child residing in the state if their capacity allows it.

What is the Process of Enrolling my Child in a Tuition-Free Public Charter School in Paso Robles?

The enrollment process of charter schools is highly similar to other school types. They require an application where parents have to provide information about the child such as name, address, birth date, ethnic background, and the last school attended.

It is your responsibility to check the charter schools’ application and enrollment deadlines along with the school’s specific enrollment rules, policies, and requirements. Charter schools may have different rules and processes, but their admission rules must comply with state laws. According to California laws, charter schools cannot implement policies that unlawfully discriminate against their applicants. 

You should also remember that there is a high possibility of seeing your child’s name on the school’s waitlist especially if you applied to a sought-after charter school. Many charter schools receive more applications than their capacities allow. Schools that have more applicants than they can take in usually employ a random selection process. The lottery system is a commonly used selection technique by many charter schools.

Do Public Charter Schools Offer High-Quality Education in Paso Robles?

It’s normal for parents to wonder whether public charter schools offer high-quality education.

If you remain unsure about the quality of charter schools, t studies often show that charter school students display better academic progress than those enrolled in public schools. Here are some figures proving the high-quality education provided by charter schools.

  • In the same school year, roughly 74 percent of students from charter schools met the student achievement goals for disadvantaged students, a percentage that’s significantly higher than the 59 percent from non-charter schools.
  • In the same school year, middle school students from charter schools also did better across all subgroups when compared to students from non-charter schools in California.
  • In reading, 32 percent of charter schools perform significantly better than their traditional public school counterparts, while 29 percent perform significantly better in math. Both of these results are better than the national average proportion of better-performing charters (25% in reading and 29% in math).

In addition, California charter school students in middle schools consistently fared better in their API Growth scores, outperforming their traditional public school counterparts. 

About AACA

Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Located in Paso Robles in a newly built, state-of-the-art facility, AACA is open to all students from all communities. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids! 

Get to Know Mr. B!

Our Executive Director, Bob Bourgault, is fondly known by our AACA students as Mr. B. His mission is to help every learner discover the best version of themselves. Mr. B shares his gifts with the Almond Acres community — especially its students — in hopes that the children will share their best version of themselves right back to the family and community in which they live.. 

man in cowboy hat

Mr. B feels that when children believe in themselves they have confidence. This confidence translates into students being their most happy and successful selves. Students who are confident can recognize the beauty in almost anything — even old pieces of wood (another passion of Mr. B’s). Mr. B feels very strongly about the importance of kids being who they are. 

“Almond Acres Charter Academy is designed and dedicated to the true meaning of education. The word ‘educate’ originates from the Latin word ‘educare’ which means to nurture and draw out the learner, not to fill him/her up.  We help students become the very best version of themselves by inciting a passion and desire to learn. Project-based learning, service learning, and meaningful educational experiences within our community are the keys to unlocking outstanding learning and student success.”

Bob Bourgault

Another word Mr. B uses to describe students and their best selves is efficacy. When kids believe in who they are — they have the power and confidence to have a positive impact on their own life and the lives of others. 

school lunchtime

As for parents, the role of educating and influencing young minds is always in use. Parents are coaches, motivators, teachers and support systems for their children. In fact, the word educate and parent come from the same Latin root word…educare. It means to draw out, to nurture. Not to push in or fill up. 

Almond Acres parents are among Mr. B’s biggest fans 

“There are two things that stand out to me about AACA that makes them different from traditional education. First, they emphasize the importance of growing great kids that eventually turn into great citizens. One of the ways they do this is to teach them how to problem solve by finding the next right thing they can do. Mr. B. shared a story with me of a former student who observed her AACA classmates walking away from a fight at the high school. He believed they made that good choice because they had the philosophies of finding the next right thing ingrained in them.

The second thing they do that is different from traditional education is they find how each student is smart and encourage them in that direction. That is an out-of-the-box way to think about education and I know my son will benefit from his teachers working with him in that way.”

“Our son has learned so much about his personal learning style and what makes him a unique learner and he can communicate that to EVERYONE at AACA because every year every student creates their kite; a visual representation of their individual strengths and weaknesses in heart, mind, body, and soul. In short, AACA actively engages each child in their own learning process. AACA imbues a love of learning in their students. They are not just being taught how to succeed in the classroom but how to succeed in life and as members of their community.”

girls volleyball team

Our AACA student alums also found guidance from Mr. B to be truly inspiring. When asked what, as a middle schooler, they found most rewarding about their time at Almond Acres we received replies like: 

“All the leadership talks with Mr. B. “

“You will find yourself and make friends that last a lifetime.”

“AACA is a great place to slow down and learn about yourself. There are lots of day-to-day skills you learn that even adults have trouble with.” 

Mr. B helps Almond Acres students focus on the cooperative, not the competitive. Top down, every faculty member and administrative staffer helps each individual child recognize simple principles that help them maintain who they are. Mr. B has a genuine desire to help, and alongside his team, Mr. B honors kids for who they are

kids in space costumes

“The recipe to growing great kids is simple.  First, we affirm.  The strengths and struggles of each student are unique to them.  We acknowledge and recognize this in each learner.  Secondly, we stretch.  We guide students through the process of identifying opportunities for growth and set goals that are S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, assignable, relevant, and time-based).  Finally, we celebrate the awakening of creativityStudent achievements are regularly commemorated during our daily Shared Start assembly.”

Find out more about Almond Acres Charter Academy today! 

About Almond Acres

Almond Acres is relocating to Paso Robles. Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Open to all students in all communities, the school is currently located in San Miguel and moving to Paso Robles for the 2021-22 school year. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids!