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! 

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