Community Spotlight: Bearkitten Program

“…they come to understand that they are there to learn and grow as human beings that will make a contribution to their communities as a whole.”

AACA Parent

Almond Acres is committed to developing the leaders of tomorrow who possess the skills to be competent and contributing members of their communities. Our Project Based and Service Learning programs connect our students to the greater Paso Robles area as we seek ways to be a part and help. It’s a circle of giving that we believe supports everyone, community members, staff, and students, alike! 

AACA students also benefit from the rich programs offered in our local community.  One such unique program brings graduates of Paso Robles High School to us–to work as paraeducators in our early childhood classrooms. Starting in high school, the Bearkitten Program at PRHS develops future educators and supports preschool children in the local community at the same time. 

Almond Acres Charter Academy support teacher Taliyah Thomas and a student enjoy a conversation outdoors at school 

Bearkitten Program

The Bearkitten Program provides Paso Robles High School (PRHS) students who are interested in a career in education or child development the opportunity to earn a paraeducator certificate, as well as graduate high school with college credits toward a degree in Early Childhood Education. 

Under teacher guidance, participants are placed in pre-school settings and learn about child development as an intern. Students teach in the school environment three days a week and have block days devoted to learning about positive guidance and curriculum planning. They gain college and career ready skills while observing and working with a preschooler throughout the school year. 

Photo: DianeyAACA.jpeg Alt Text: Almond Acres Charter Academy paraeducator Dianey Perez works on a computer 

Almond Acres Charter Academy paraeducator Dianey Perez works on a computer 

Bearkitten participants also have a chance to compete at the state level to showcase their skills. The relationship between young children and the interns is a special one, with the students presenting the children with a book at the end of the year that showcases their growth and development. 

AACA Support Teachers

Sometimes, we are lucky enough to have Bearkitten participants join AACA as full-time employees in K-8. This year, we are pleased to welcome three Bearkitten and Paso Robles High School graduates as full-time support teachers (paraeducators) at Almond Acres.

Aurora Ruiz works at our current elementary site, Centennial, as a support teacher.  Dianey Perez and Taliyah Thomas currently work at our middle school site, Youth Arts, also as support teachers. 

Profile photo of Almond Acres Charter Academy support teacher Aurora Ruiz

We think it speaks volumes that Bearkitten participants choose to work at AACA. They bring with them a depth of knowledge about how children grow and develop, as well as experience supporting children’s needs in the classrooms. We love the extra hands, minds, and hearts that these program participants bring to our classrooms.

Of our young professionals, AACA administrator, Leslie Almaguer, shared

I have been able to watch both Dianey and Taliyah’s work performance on a daily basis and the whole admin team here at Youth Arts has been so impressed with them. I have heard nothing but great things about Aurora over at Centennial. They already come prepared with the tools they need in order to build trust with the students, which I feel is the most important part of the job. 

We are so grateful to the Bearkitten Program for enriching our school experience by sharing their talented and dedicated educators. They are a shining example of how community is made better when we contribute our strengths and time. The Bearkitten Program is a win-win relationship for everyone!

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. Open to all students from all communities, AACA is currently in a temporary Paso Robles location until our new purpose built building opens for the 2021-2022 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! 

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