When students arrive at Almond Acres Charter Academy, they are embraced like family. In fact, we consider ourselves a family! We look out for one another and we care deeply about the happiness and success of all our students. From a simple smile and hello in the morning, to a heartfelt “how are you doing?” during lunch – students know that they are an important part of our community.
We help students become the very best version of themselves by inciting a passion and desire to learn. It’s not just teachers and students who are developing caring relationships at Almond Acres, it’s everyone in the building and our families at home. We create solid and affirming relationships – we understand our students, their families, and the community – and we make decisions that put student success at the center of our planning.
How do we achieve this at Almond Acres Charter School? We asked a couple of AACA parents to share the ways we regularly nurture and collaborate to create our family culture:
We get to know each other and ourselves.
We work together as faculty and families to recognize all the ways our students are capable and smart. We spend the first three weeks of every school year focusing on self discovery and setting goals for the year–even in kindergarten! Students work with their parents and teachers to identify strengths and struggles in all areas of their lives: heart, mind, body, and soul. In a student-led parent-teacher conference following this self discovery period, the student shares what they’ve learned about themselves and challenges themselves to grow–or stretch–their skills. For example, a student may choose to learn to play an instrument, participate in the school play, or improve their reading fluency by learning 100 sight words.
We focus on the cooperative, not the competitive.
Our sports teams are open to all students. We want every child to experience what it feels like to be part of a team. We believe that the elementary years provide an excellent opportunity to explore different interests and develop skills. We encourage students to focus on personal growth rather than comparing themselves to other students. We all learn and develop at different paces, and peers, parents, and staff celebrate that personal growth among student athletes.
We maintain simple principles to help every kid understand who they are.
These principles are inherent to teaching, parenting and learning.
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 strengthen. 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! Student achievements are regularly commemorated during our daily Shared Start assembly.
We have a genuine desire to help.
We know that if students feel supported — as a whole person — they’ll flourish. For us, this includes heart, mind, body and soul.
Annual Fund Raising – everyone seems to get together to make this happen. The committees that are formed are one part of it, but so many people help by donating items and advertising! It’s amazing to see the community family coming together to help provide money to keep our school thriving (to my knowledge most traditional public schools in our area don’t have to raise as much money as us just to operate).
We honor kids for their unique intelligences: how they are smart is more important than how smart they are.
We engage available, reliable adults to support kids daily in their growth and courage.
Daily Parent Involvement – I consistently come across parents that not only know the names of my kiddos, but they know their likes and dislikes and achievements and struggles. This to me validates the family culture of AACA…we all have each other’s backs.
Our end of year camp-out (pre-COVID-19) always had a large turnout and the feeling (to me) is like a big family reunion with food, fun, and unity.
Our small charter school means faculty and families really know one another and intentionally partner in the developmental arc of each kid. We grow great kids!
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!