All About Shared Start

What does it mean to share the start of our day? 

Just like a family sharing a meal or a conversation, we view our morning Shared Start as a chance to come together, discuss important events, and prepare for the day and all the opportunities that it brings. It’s sort of a grounding event for the Almond Acres community; a consistent, collaborative way to begin the day that sets a positive tone for all that is to come. 

students sitting on floor of gym facing a screen

Shared Start Builds Community

Every school day morning, our K-5 students and our middle school students participate in Shared Start. Just like the assemblies you may remember from your youth, our students gather together in our gymnasium. The brief meeting is just enough time to share student achievements, celebrate birthdays and discuss topics pertinent to our day. Staff may share something funny or we might sing a song. Coming together for a shared story or skit fosters trust and builds connections among our students. It’s also joyful! This sense of family is a big benefit of attending our K-8 school.

Shared Start Builds Character

Character education is at the heart of our mission and Shared Start is a wonderful time to reinforce our lessons, practice new skills (like listening!) and recognize the positive behavior we notice throughout the day. Students practice being good citizens by demonstrating trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, and care (TeRRiFiC),  which are the core tenets of our character education program, and we enjoy highlighting their efforts during Shared Start. Cheering each other on is powerful! We find that promoting and celebrating positive behaviors in front of peers is much more effective at building strong character than disciplining less-desired behavior privately.  

Shared Start Builds Leadership

After a few months of school, our middle school leadership class takes the helm of our Shared Start by organizing and leading the agenda. It’s a terrific way for our older students to develop leadership skills and practice speaking in front of others, as well as set a positive example for our younger students. If one of our classes has something to share with the school, we might also get to enjoy a skit, message or lesson from the students. There is an opportunity for everyone to take the stage and shine

Shared Start Helps Us Achieve Goals

Meeting together each morning helps us align and work toward our goals. Almond Acres is in the business of growing great kids: heart, mind, body and soul. When we uncover all that our mission holds, we see how a strong community can serve us now and beyond 8th grade. Sharing a smile or a laugh with a kindergartner, celebrating a friend’s birthday, or watching your big brother receive an award expands our hearts and souls beyond books and the 4 walls of a classroom. 

Shared Start is the golden thread that connects each member of our community, from kindergartener to middle schooler, to staff and teachers, and even families. It’s one of the many intentional ways we work to grow great kids at our tuition-free charter school

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! 

Trustworthiness

We held our Shared Start program today under the colors and theme of the Olympic Spirit. It is best expressed in the Olympic Creed: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” The victory of every athlete in the Olympic games is not that they win a medal, but that they have the courage and persistence to be and become the best athlete they can possibly be. They trust their coach, their body, and most importantly, they trust that the time and effort put into their sport will make them a worthy competitor at the games. Trusting in self is essential to success at any level.
Our habit of the week is Trustworthiness. It is true that we ought to be trustworthy to one another and should expect it in return, but there is another important angle to being trustworthy. We must trust ourselves to use the gifts and talents that we are blessed with and to let our natural talents guide us through our day so we can live fully and achieve all we are capable of. Helping our children to develop this inner sense of confidence and courage leads to a personal sense of efficacy that grows the best version of our children. In an article from About Kids Health the author explains some key things we can do to help our children develop self efficacy.
Help your child fail again and fail better.
  • Body: help your child set realistic, short term goals
  • Mind: praise effort, not ability
  • Heart: praise honesty
  • Soul: name your child’s strengths
These are excellent tips for growing great kids! I think that it is as simple as loving our children well. 🙂
Learning Links

What and Why We Teach: Daily Growth, Balanced Learning

At Almond Acres Charter Academy, we believe an education that addresses all aspects of a child’s life creates balanced, happy learners.  In fact, our scholastic mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body, and soul. This mission is embedded in our academic DNA and informs how we grow together every school day. It truly sets us apart from other K-8 learning environments.  

children standing against a wall

Our team of credentialed teachers uses the Common Core State Standards to teach English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics while using the State Content Standards for social studies, and the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) for science.  Teachers also administer state-mandated testing annually in grades 3-8. We incorporate our additional, beloved (by students and families alike) complementary instruction across all K-8 grade levels because we see how and why this enables high quality, intentional, gratifying educational experiences

What is complementary instruction? 

We’re glad you asked! For us, complementary education includes physical education, art, drama, leadership, character education, and service-based learning. Here’s a sample of what we mean and why we believe in this complementary instruction for all of our learners  — from our youngest kinders to our big kid middle schoolers — as they study and grow: 

Character Education

Character Education is a main focus that is promoted through a schoolwide Daily Shared Start Assembly. We practice being good citizens by being trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair, and caring, which are the core tenets of Character Counts. We promote this through our PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) System.

Service Learning

Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a key component of our instructional program. We integrate PBS across all subject areas and in all grades whenever possible. Our PBL enriches student knowledge by utilizing themes, unit-based queries and a variety of hands-on methods. Our innovative PBL efforts also enhance community connections via field trips, guest speakers, and our highly rewarding service-based projects. 

youth theater production

Leadership

At our K-8 charter school, we focus on being leaders by being good citizens and using the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to develop important life skills. All students have leadership opportunities within their classrooms based on their grade level. Middle School students have the option of participating in a weekly Leadership Class. These students help lead many aspects of school including, Shared Start, recess and lunchtime activities, schoolwide contests, and fundraisers. All middle school students also participate in a pathways course, which helps them further apply the habits, refine their problem-solving and decision-making skills, as well as develop college and career readiness skills.

For more detail about our top-notch Common Core State Standards classes and other complementary instruction visit our Curriculum page

About Almond Acres

Almond Acres is located in 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, 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!

6 Ways We Make Middle School Magical

On any given day, if you take a walk through the Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA) middle school wing, you’ll hear the sounds of learning and joy in our halls and classrooms: Spirited debates and discussions, laughter among friends, and conversations between students and teachers. You’ll see a community of teachers and learners engaged in active thinking, creating and doing. You’ll undoubtedly notice our commitment to nurturing the heart, mind, body and soul throughout the unique middle school years. Here’s a glimpse of what we offer our bright 6th-8th grade students at our tuition-free charter school:

1. Authentic Academics

Our daily schedule looks similar to a traditional middle school day: We use “periods” for students to rotate through English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Recreation and Electives and include a morning and lunch recess. But, as middle school parents can attest, that’s where the similarities end:

The Middle School Leadership Team is unique because it comes up with the BEST ideas for activities. It’s really fun and creative and so hands-on. When there’s a problem, they’ll solve it.

-AACA Parent

All middle school students participate in our school-wide Shared Start and a homeroom Morning Meeting. We believe this boosts belonging and community in our K-8 school. 

AACA middle school teachers utilize a Project-Based Learning (PBL) approach that is the core component of our instructional program and is integrated across all subject areas whenever possible. We also make connections throughout the community with field trips, guest speakers and service components. PBL makes learning authentic and lasting–just what a middle school brain needs. 

Our dedication to STEAM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Mathematics) has helped us develop popular events and programs like Destination Imagination, an after school STEAM program open to all students, and our Annual Maker’s Faire

2. Leadership & Character Development

All AACA students participate in a yearly study of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, developed by Steven Covey. Through our Pathways Course, middle school students further their understanding of the 7 habits and also have opportunities to refine their problem-solving and decision-making skills. The Pathways Course includes essential college and career readiness skills. 

An optional weekly Leadership Class is popular among our 6th-8th graders. Students in the Leadership Class lead many aspects of our school including Shared Start, recess and lunchtime activities, school-wide contests, and fundraisers. In fact, if you come for a tour of our middle school, you are most likely to be welcomed and led around by a member of our middle school leadership class. Who better to share with prospective families than the ones who get to experience and shape it everyday?

I think AACA has such a unique middle school environment. Not only are students taught to be considerate leaders, but students are given many opportunities to show their initiative skills. Leadership and citizenship is exceedingly highlighted. And most of all Almond Acres stretches and educates students as a whole child: heart, mind, body, and soul.

-AACA Parent

3. Service Learning

Our middle school students are active volunteers in our community, putting into practice what they learn through service learning projects, a cornerstone of our curriculum. Field trips and guest speakers help us learn from and interact with the community. The skills students learn in school often spill out into summer, with many students choosing to serve and engage in Paso Robles’s many amazing community offerings. Being good citizens is an important aspect of our AACA school model.

4. Arts

AACA arts electives are some of our most popular middle school classes. We offer choir, instrumental and vocal, art and drama. Each year our students put on a student-run musical theater production and a talent show. We also showcase student art at our annual art show.

middle school students on stage for a drama production

5. Sports

We may be a small school, but our sports teams still pack a punch. From Cross Country to Flag Football, Volleyball, Basketball, Track & Field and Ultimate Frisbee our middle school students get to compete against other local middle schools and hone their skills. Being a part of a team in middle school provides a solid foundation in teamwork and sportsmanship.  

Additionally, all middle school students receive physical education classes with our full-time recreation & wellness teacher.

AACA Middle School is like a family – it is small and all the students know one another. Teachers are able to give more attention to individual students because the class sizes are smaller. The philosophy of Heart, Mind, Body, Soul is very unique for a school as it promotes teaching students foremost and curriculum follows. When we take the well-being of every student into consideration, it makes it much easier for students to focus and learn the curriculum.

-AACA Teacher

6. Positive Student-Centered Culture

It is possible to attend a middle school that is a positive environment for growth and development as a tween and early teen. Our middle school embraces sixth to eighth graders as current AND future leaders, ideators, problem-solvers, and independent contributors. Due to our small size, AACA middle schoolers can each be known for who they are and the safe community feel of a K-8 building contributes to fewer discipline and behavior problems than a traditional middle school. And fewer behavior issues means less time pulled away from academics

Want to check out AACA Middle School in person? We welcome prospective families to chat with us and take a tour of our new building. Even if your student is looking for a better fit for 8th grade, it’s never too late to join us

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! 

Frequently Asked Questions about Almond Acres

Got a burning question about life at Almond Acres (AACA)? We’ve got answers. We’re tackling your most frequently asked questions and corralling them all into one, easy to reference blog post.  As always, if you can’t find an answer here, peruse our website or chat with someone in our office. We are here to help!

Q: Where are you located? 

Our new campus is located at 1145 Niblick Road, Paso Robles. 

Q: How are you keeping kids healthy and safe? 

AACA follows all mandates from our SLO County Public Health Department regarding health and safety practices, including COVID. 

Three Almond Acres Charter Academy students wearing red uniform polo shirts work together at a table

Q: Are uniforms required?

Yes! Our uniforms are loved by families and kids alike for ease and style. Brightly colored polo shirts can be bought through this link on our website and uniform bottoms can be purchased anywhere. We also have a no-cost exchange program available. 

Q: Do you offer transportation? 

Bus transportation is available to and from campus.You can view the bus route and schedule on our website. 

Q: How do kids use technology at AACA?

AACA views technology as a tool for supporting learning. All 5th-8th graders have their own Chromebook. K-4th grades use Chromebooks and iPads in their classrooms. We use Google Apps for Education and offer a variety of tech support and resources. Additionally, we are a Common Sense Certified school. We teach children how to be productive and balanced digital citizens

Q: Is there a tuition fee?

There is no cost to attend Almond Acres. We are funded similarly to all other public schools. More information about what makes us a charter school can be found on our blog. 

Q: What is your average class size? 

Our classes are kept intentionally small, with a maximum of 24 students in each K-3 class. In 4th-8th grade, class sizes are capped at 30. We have two classes per grade. Kindergarten-5th grade students are taught by a homeroom teacher. Our middle school students (6th-8th) rotate between single subject teachers. 

Q: I really want my child to attend AACA.  How do I get in? 

Almond Acres holds open enrollment from February 1 to March 30.  Admission is open to all students regardless of home address. Interested families can fill out a Request for Enrollment (RFE) for each child applying. When the number of requests for enrollment exceeds availability, a random, public drawing is held to determine enrollment and waitlist priority. Additionally, we hold rolling enrollment throughout the school year should space become available. 

Q: What does a typical day at Almond Acres look like? 

Every morning, our kindergarten through 5th grade students participate in a schoolwide Shared Start. Teachers then hold Morning Meetings in homerooms. We have blocks of instructional time for Project Based Learning, English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies and Art. Physical Education is taught by a specialist teacher. K-5 students have a morning and lunch recess and our K-3rd students enjoy an extra afternoon recess. 

In the middle school wing, 6th-8th students also participate in our schoolwide Shared Start and a homeroom Morning Meeting. We use “periods” for students to rotate through English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Recreation and Electives. Middle school students also have a morning and lunch recess.  

Two Almond Acres students sit together outside. One student wears a blue AACA polo shirt and the other wears a yellow polo shirt uniform.

Q: Do you offer sports? 

Yes! From elementary to middle school, students have the opportunity to participate in intramural and competitive sports. You can read all about our sports offerings on our blog.

Q: Do you meet state standards?

As a public school in the State of California we are required to participate in all state mandated testing. We adhere to the Common Core State Standards for ELA and Math, NGSS for Science and California’s state standards for Social Studies. 

Q: My child is struggling in her regular school. How can you help? 

We offer the same support services as all public schools in the state of California, including for those with 504s, IEPs and disabilities. We implement at Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) for students in the area of social-emotional, behavior and academics. Schoolwide, we use Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) to teach and reinforce appropriate student behaviors. 

You can be a part of our vibrant learning community, too. Open enrollment occurs every spring for the following school year. Find out more about our process on our enrollment page

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!