805-221-8550 info@almondacres.com

A Simple Mission: Children First

At the heart of our small, intentionally built school is one clear goal: nurture the whole child, heart, mind, body, and soul. The simplicity of our mission makes decision-making easy. We put children at the forefront of our planning for all parts of our day from curriculum to our environment (including our new school building) to how we spend our time together. 

Almond Acres Charter Academy young student stands next to a magnetic board with the words heart, mind, body, and soul spelled out

Putting our values and priorities first in our lives lets us live the life we wish for. This is true for education and school-settings, too. This paradigm shift — to focusing on the individual and whole child — is needed in public education right now. We want every person to be thinking about each child – how to dignify them – before the academic and assessment goals. 

Here are some example of how we grow great kids, according to parents, AACA teachers and other care-giving grown-ups: 

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“ 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 knew 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 encourages 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.”

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“As an educator, I admired AACA’s educational philosophy of teaching the whole child. The staff truly believes that all students can learn and everyone is great at something. They build their curriculum and instruction around each child’s learning modalities as well as providing the rigor and content required for students. 

One of the things that sets AACA apart from other public schools is their instruction on the different intelligences: Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. Students, parents and staff get to know the best ways they learn and process information through these 4 intelligences. Students learn to advocate for themselves by knowing how they best learn, teachers and staff can create lessons and activities to challenge students in these areas and push them to learn and develop in other areas.”

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“My daughter, who will be in 2nd grade, started kindergarten at AACA after a year of kindergarten at a different school. Because of her genetic disorder, and being nonverbal she was made to feel different than the other students, didn’t connect with the staff or her peers, and developed major behavioral issues. As soon as she started over in kindergarten at AACA, everything changed. 

From the first day she stepped on campus she was made to feel a part of the school and her peers. After two years, and two of the most amazing teachers, she has friends, is learning and reading and truly loves school. The dedication, hard work and passion from the general education teachers, special education teacher, her aide and the school as a whole has created an environment that makes her feel included, smart, important and loved. 

She walks down the hallway and everyone says hi, students know her by name, not the girl who can’t talk. The idea that everyone is smart in their own way, and that you don’t have to do something one way for it to be right is a key component to AACA’s philosophy, and a reason that everyone in San Luis Obispo County should be honored to have this school within the county.”

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“Our youngest son at AACA needs an emphasis on social/emotional learning. AACA strongly emphasizes this learning from the top down. To share a personal example, when our son was struggling to control his emotions and impulses, we met with the administration to create a plan for his success. Right away we learned that he could take a break by flashing ANY staff member the “fist of five”. What does that mean? He can quickly and unobtrusively flash his emotional level on a scale of 1-5 over his heart and that will communicate to EVERY staff member that he needs a break because they are all trained in “fist of five” from the Principal to the Bus Driver! 

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.” 

Almond Acres Charter Academy teacher and student discuss work during a class conference

At AACA, we celebrate the differences that make every child unique. We inform our students how to self-identify the ways they learn best. We do not fit kids into molds. Every child is special and valuable. And this paradigm shift — when put into action and lived every day — both at home and at school — transforms how we parent and how we educate. 

In public schools today — 1/3 of kids thrive, 1/3 of kids survive, and 1/3 of kids take a dive. The kids who take a dive will find alternatives, so they can thrive. For example, they might go to a trade school. AACA wants to be a place for the kids who are just surviving at public school. These kids could thrive with AACA! 

AACA may be a fit for one of your children. Not every child in the family has to attend – some families have kids at multiple schools. We are here for one or all of the kids who want a different way to learn, a new approach.  At Almond Acres Charter Academy, we affirm the strengths and struggles of each learner, stretch their knowledge and skills, and celebrate their accomplishments, large and small.  We believe that a love of learning comes naturally in an environment that focuses on empowering students to be active participants in their own education. 

About Almond Acres:

Almond Acres is moving 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!

Why Choose a Charter School

A charter school is a publicly funded, independently operated public school. Most charter schools are started from the ground up, by a team of passionate educators and parents who see a need in the community and decide to fill it. Charter schools operate under a contract between the school and the state government that outlines how the school will educate students in exchange for public funds. A charter school’s authorization is renewed every five years based on agreed upon expectations for educating students, including state standards and testing.  

Three Almond Acres Charter Academy upper school students smile for the camera.

Mission Driven

Founders of charter schools want to offer students and the community a unique approach to learning. They may choose to focus on college preparation, arts or sciences, or a specific curriculum; the sky’s the limit! The school’s unique mission drives the planning for the school and influences every part of the students’ day. 

Ten years ago, Almond Acres Charter Academy founders began with a powerful vision; to create a school that would be a part of, and continue, the tradition of the local districts, but also have greater flexibility in the delivery of curriculum, fiscal management, and decision making. A school and program of learning that centers the best of interests of children in all decisions was born. Today, Almond Acres has bloomed into a thriving charter school serving K-8 students of the Paso Robles area  – with heart and dedication. 

Student Centered

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all learning. Charter schools are usually centered on the needs of the student, often through a personalized curriculum or specialized offerings. An artistically inclined child can thrive in an arts-centered school, while another child may do best in a school with smaller classes and an emphasis on outdoor education. The ability to find a “just right fit” for your child’s schooling is very appealing. 

Growing Great Kids!

Affirming each for their strengths and struggles,

Stretching positive and productive habits of mind, and

Celebrating the awakening of creativity!

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. 

Freedom to Innovate

Because charter schools are free to choose the best path to success, they can be an exciting hub of innovation and creativity. Highly qualified teachers are often attracted to work at charter schools for a chance to teach in a less restrictive way, with greater creative freedom, or with like-minded teachers and staff. 

In addition to an innovative project based approach, we use research backed practice 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. And we get kids up and moving throughout the day with physical education and abundant athletic offerings, to strengthen young muscles and hearts.

The exterior of Almond Acres Charter Academy showcases the multiple intelligences with a series of signs and symbols.

Almond Acres teachers are the heart and soul of our school. Our teachers are committed to creative, energetic teaching, and a positive school culture that is modeled by every member of our staff. We teach to the strengths of every learner, including those with 504s and IEPs. 

Community & Size

Parents looking for a small school, where everyone knows their name, often look to charter schools to find a greater sense of community. Many charter schools are born out of a desire to create a like-minded community, where children can safely learn in a way that suits their needs.

Community is at the core of our safe and deliberately small K-8 charter school. At Almond Acres, every child gets personalized attention, caring instructors, and a close-knit academic environment. Communication between teachers and family is frequent.  Special events invite families to our school to celebrate our success and cheer on our growth. We lean on parents as our partners in growing well-rounded children into college-bound students. 

Almond Acres Charter Academy strives to offer excellence, flexibility, and choice in your child’s education. We love our close community and invite your family to experience all our charter school can offer.

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!

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! 

Be TeRRiFiC: Respectful

Students at Almond Acres Charter Academy focus their attention on the front of a classroom. The students are performing hand motions. They are wearing brightly colored school uniforms.

Recently, in our series on How to Be TeRRiFiC, we took a deep dive into what it means to be trustworthy. We use the acronym TeRRiFiC to help us remember the 5 character traits that make us terrific: trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair and caring. This week, we are unpacking the concept of respect and how we teach children to be respectful of themselves, the people they meet, and the world around them. 

While the concept seems simple, respect is a learned behavior relative to the environment in which a child grows. From families to schools and nations and cultures, every unique environment we enter operates with a different lens for respect. Our children model the norms of respect they observe and are taught at home, at school, on the playground and at sports practices. 

While modeling respect is perhaps one of the greatest ways we teach this character trait at school, an easy phrase that illustrates this concept is the Golden Rule: treat others the way you wish to be treated. The Golden Rule is a simple lesson, and yet, like most simple things, it can have the most profound impact. When put into everyday practice, the ripple effect of our treatment of others reaches far and wide. 

An Almond Acres staff member helps a student select lunch items. There are other students waiting in line behind the one making a selection.

Here are a few ways you might see, feel, and hear RESPECT in action: 

Being respectful might LOOK like:

…caring for your classroom and materials.

…taking turns.

…a handshake and eye contact.

Being respectful might SOUND like:

…Please. 

…Thank you.  

…Hi! How are you?

Being respectful might FEEL like: 

…trust in yourself to do the right thing.

…peaceful and secure.

…kindness. 

When we are respectful of ourselves and others, our actions lead to positive change in everything from relationships to self-worth and even academic success. At Almond Acres, respect is the cornerstone of our school community. The sense of caring and respect between staff and students is visible. We believe that this mutual respect helps us grow great kids who confidently and respectfully navigate any environment they enter.  

Showing your children how you respect them with words and actions encourages your children to be respectful. We can model the actions we seek and actively expect our children to rise to our positive example. How can you model respect for your heart, mind, body and soul today? 

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!

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!