805-221-8550 info@almondacres.com

Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports

Have you heard teachers or staff refer to PBIS? PBIS stands for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. It’s an evidence-based three-tiered framework we use to establish our school culture and support each other in becoming the best version of ourselves. It works by gathering data and using that information to improve our systems and practices. 

Who Participates in PBIS?

PBIS is for everyone, not just students! We established a Tier 1 PBIS team of six staff members with different roles on campus. This team just completed the first year of Tier 1 training which focused on developing the systems we will need to launch PBIS with consistency and fidelity next year. Many of the components of PBIS are already implemented at AACA. However, the team is excited about launching PBIS with renewed enthusiasm in the fall.

Why Are Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Important?

Positive interventions and supports are essential because they create an environment that fosters growth, learning, and progress. When we encourage people to focus on their strengths and accomplishments rather than their weaknesses, we empower them to reach their full potential and improve their self-confidence. Positive interventions have a ripple effect on improving social, emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes for all students.

How Is PBIS Implemented at AACA?

At AACA, our behavior expectations are based on five character traits; Trustworthy, Respectful, Responsible, Fair, and Caring. We have defined what it is to be “TeRRiFiC” across all school settings and contexts. 

Our goal is to prevent behavior problems rather than react to them. Expectations need to be explicitly taught, modeled, practiced, and reinforced. That means all adults must be familiar with and model the behaviors we want to see in students. All staff uses the same lesson plans to teach behavior in the hallways, playground, quad, etc., not just in the classroom. Expectations are taught creatively using videos of staff doing the wrong thing, then the right thing. 

While there is a heavy emphasis on behavior expectations at the beginning of the school year, we regularly re-teach throughout the year, especially when returning from extended breaks. This is important for any students who arrive later in the school year and serves as a reminder for those who may have forgotten. 

Reinforcements range from simple, non-specific feedback like a high-five or thumbs up to behavior-specific feedback to tangible rewards. Research indicates that you can improve behavior by 80% just by pointing out what someone is doing correctly. Simply telling a child “No!” doesn’t teach them proper behavior. Giving someone clear expectations in a firm, fair, and friendly way makes a big difference in how they receive and respond. It helps us shift from being reactive to being proactive.

PBIS is a tiered model of support. Most of our students and staff respond well to the Tier 1 efforts we have described in this post. Some need additional Tier 2 support, and a few need more intensive Tier 3 support. Tier 2 and 3 interventions are evidence-based, positive, and restorative. There are many steps to integrate this process entirely, and we are working with the County Office of Education to ensure that we meet each step

How Can Families Support This Effort at Home? 

Look for our PBIS launch party (aka Meet-the-Teacher Night) at the beginning of the school year! We plan to teach families about this process, what it looks like, and how they can implement it at home. In the meantime, here are a few things to consider.

  • Work as a family to define what Trustworthy, Respectful, Responsible, Fair, and Caring look like in your family. Be specific about your common places and activities; the dinner table, the car, public places, chores, AM and PM routines, etc.
  • Remember, relationships thrive with a 5:1 positivity ratio!
  • Specific positive feedback does wonders. Recognize the behavior explicitly and connect it to the expectations. “Fred, you brushed your teeth without any reminders tonight. Good job being responsible.” or “It felt great not to be rushed this morning. Thank you for being ready on time.”

 It takes a village to raise kids; we will be most successful when we work together to grow great kids!

Ask More Questions, Give Fewer Answers

Feed someone a fish and you feed them for a day; teach them how to fish and you feed them for a lifetime!
When I was a boy I was often reprimanded for asking too many questions. I wanted to know why, where, who, when, and what. When my enthusiastic questioning was squelched, I can remember second-guessing my intelligence because I had a lot of questions and needed answers.
The neurological truth is that children are constantly asking questions because their brains are hungry for truth and knowledge. They ask out of intrigue, curiosity, and sincere interest. Squelching this inquisitive fire turns the mind cold and produces reluctant learners.
At the age of five, children ask on average 65 questions per day, at the age of eight they average 41 questions. By the time we reach the age of forty-four, we only ask six questions per day. More importantly, the quality of our childhood questions is much more inquisitive and thought-provoking. What happens to our creative thinking?


Use the 80:20 Question & Answer Rule

Consider all of the thinking involved when you allow your child to solve a problem on his or her own. You may have a good answer to the problem, but with patience and guidance, you will help your child develop his or her own path to an answer that can provide a solid path to other problems in the future. Use the 80:20 Q&A Rule: ask questions 80% of the time and give answers 20% of the time. I believe that this is a healthy ratio for most children. Once they are confident in their intelligence to resolve problems, more questions and fewer answers are appropriate. Avoid questions that provide a simple answer such as, “yes” or “no”. Use questions that lead to creativity and problem-solving. Ask How?, Why?, What if?, What do you mean?, Have you considered?…” Jonas Saulk once said, “The answer to any problem preexists. We need to ask the right question to reveal the answer.”


Empowering Your Child With Questions

Imagine the difference between giving your child a toy car versus giving your child a model to build a toy car. Answering versus questioning has the same effect. When our children build a model they go through the process of discovery that is essential to deep understanding, innovation, and joy. If we are always providing the answers to questions, we get to show them how smart we are. Unfortunately, that does little for their own brain. Thinking power comes from asking questions and posing problems. In our brain, we do the work to resolve those questions and problems and build neural pathways that become tools for the next time the question or problem arises.


Question Quotes

“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” -Albert Einstein
“Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”-Anthony Robbins


Learning Links

Be TeRRiFiC: Trustworthy

Three Almond Acres Charter Academy students  work together on a project at a table. One is cutting while the other two look on intently.

Character counts. It’s the foundation for who we are and how we interact with our friends, families, and the world around us. At Almond Acres Charter Academy, we believe developing positive character traits is as essential as learning the ABCs and 123s. In addition to our study of the Habits of Mind, we focus on 5 character traits that root us in positive character so we can flourish: trustworthy, responsible, respectful, fair and caring. We like to use the acronym TeRRiFiC to help us remember how to become a terrific person. 
Let’s jump into the capital T this week: Trustworthy. A trustworthy person is reliable, responsible and honest. A trustworthy person’s actions match their words–if they say they are going to do something, they do it. The consistency a trustworthy person displays is a way of showing that promises will be kept.

Two Almond Acres Charter Academy students work together on a project outside. One student has a shoe off and the bottom of his foot painted. The other student helps him make a print of his foot.

As we grow and develop, we express trustworthiness differently. Early examples of trustworthiness might be not taking another person’s toys, but in the older grades, interactions and relationships will reveal how trustworthy a person is. Here are some more examples of what trustworthiness may look like, sound like, and feel like in our K-8 school:

Being trustworthy might LOOK like:

…showing up on time for school.

…following through on commitments.

…walking quietly through the halls so we don’t disrupt others.

Being trustworthy might SOUND like:

…I’ll be there. You can count on me. 

…I broke the lamp. I’m sorry.

…you can go first. 

Being trustworthy might FEEL like: 

…a challenge at times, especially when it goes against a desire.

…a shoulder to lean on.

…a promise kept.

Children naturally seek to be around trustworthy people – those who provide clear expectations and boundaries alongside care and sincere interest. We can also think about how we are modeling trustworthiness to our children. Do we follow through on our yeses and nos? Do we arrive at events on time? Do we fulfill our commitments? More importantly, if we make a mistake, can we say I’m sorry and correct it next time? Our children watch us closely for cues to navigate the world. 

At Almond Acres, our dedicated staff models trustworthiness in all of our interactions with students. Our students can rely on us to be consistent with our expectations, our listening skills and in our actions. It’s how we build strong, trusting relationships that allow learning and growing to flourish in a safe environment and how We Grow Great Kids

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!

Brain Power: What Kind of Learner Am I?

Smart is not
Just being best
At spelling bees,
A tricky test.
Or knowing all the answers ever…
Other things are just as clever.
Every hour of every day,
We’re smart in our own special way.
And nobody will ever do…
The very same smart thing as you.

All the Ways to Be Smart by Davina Bell

You have probably heard of book smarts. Even street smarts and people smarts. But have you heard of nature smart? Or music smart? How about word smart? 

At Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA), we believe that all kids are smart, born with their own unique set of gifts. Our job is to affirm, stretch and celebrate the unique gifts we are all given–from book smart to number smart and everything in between. 

At the beginning of each school year, AACA teachers empower our K-8 students to uncover how they are smart. The goal is to help students shift the question away from “am I smart?” to “how am I smart?” We begin this work with self-reflection, a study of the brain and by diving into the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. 

Self-Reflection & Self-Awareness

The journey of self-discovery at AACA is focused on a reflection of personal interests, strengths and personality traits. Our students spend time observing their own behavior and answering questions about things they enjoy doing, what comes easy, and what things are challenging. They 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, students share what they’ve learned about themselves and challenge 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.

Brain Power!

Even in kindergarten, AACA teachers begin to explain how our brains work. We include the biology and mechanics of the brain. Our brains do so much for us – from recognizing objects, to problem-solving, to processing emotions. Understanding this from a young age can help demystify learning and everyday habits we never think about like breathing and digestion. Knowledge is power when it comes to ownership for our bodies, our actions and our lives.

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Our work at AACA is deeply based on Harvard professor Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

Gardner’s theory of the 8 intelligences graphic

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences explains the different ways we learn and express our innate intelligence. We explore ways that we can learn new concepts, paying attention to which type comes most naturally to us and which types are more challenging. No person has just a single intelligence—we are a beautiful combination of all the different ways to learn. 

Here are a couple of examples of the multiple intelligences in action:  

  • Someone who has strong interpersonal skills may learn best when working with a partner or team.  
  • A person with strong linguistic skills may be a word-smith or skilled at picking up new languages.
  • Someone with strong kinesthetic abilities may learn sight words better if they do jumping jacks while they spell words out loud.

This philosophy is so important to us that we’ve even installed the 8 symbols in the courtyard of our new building. It’s also tied in with our mascot and kite philosophy. Affirming, stretching and celebrating our smarts is a huge part of who we are.

The courtyard of the new Almond Acres Charter Academy building. There are 4 windows displayed and above each window is a round plaque with a symbol and word illustrating the multiple intelligences.

Boosting Knowledge & Confidence

AACA teachers use this new-found knowledge to boost student’s self-worth and confidence. Teachers incorporate the different ways of learning into lessons, being sure to vary the way new information is presented for all types of learners. We look for ways to draw out individual talents and recognize students for their unique contributions, while not ignoring areas that may need more nurturing and stretching. 

Understanding ourselves also helps understand others. When our students uncover all the ways they are smart, we notice an increase in empathy toward classmates. Everyone is smart in their own way! 

AACA celebrates all the ways we are smart. We believe our individual intelligences are gifts that bring color to our world and teach us that we can accomplish so much together. How are you smart? 

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!

Our Kite Philosophy

Our school mascot is definitely one-of-a-kind. Despite our close connection to coastal winds, it wasn’t windy weather that made us choose the kite as our school mascot. The kite has much stronger conceptual roots in our school’s mission. Let’s dive a little deeper into why we chose the kite as our mascot and the powerful meaning it contains for our students.

A stuffed animal of Kirby the Kite, the Almond Acres Charter Academy mascot, is featured on the California coast with kites soaring above him.

Bob Bourgault, founding Executive Director of Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA), invented a philosophical approach to raise the level of consciousness of self (and others) as we all journey on the quest to the best version of ourselves. His model, used in all grades and classrooms at AACA, is designed for children, teens and adults and has been presented to businesses and organizations, as well. 

Mr. B believes every one of us is smart, beautiful, spiritual and talented. By explicitly teaching about these areas of our life, we begin to understand how our ways of knowing affect our lives and our learning styles. 

The philosophy is based on the concept that every individual is smart in their own unique way. When we explore and recognize all the ways we are smart, we can increase self-awareness, confidence and agency. Mr. Bourgault chose a kite to represent the four parts of the self: heart, mind, body and soul.

Graphic model of a red, yellow, green, and blue kite representing the four quadrants of heart, body, mind and soul.

The Kite Model 

Each of the four quadrants and four colors on the kite model represent a different aspect of our intelligences, temperament, personality and learning modalities. Mr. B draws from the Theory of Multiple Intelligences to include the different ways in which we learn and display our strengths. Each quadrant contains 2 of the multiple intelligences, or our specific ways of learning and knowing: 

🔴 Body: kinesthetic and visual/spatial

🟡 Mind: linguistic and logical

🟢 Soul: musical and intrapersonal

🔵 Heart: interpersonal and naturalist 

Some students are skilled linguistically and athletically, while others might find their strengths lie in music and interpersonal skills. It’s not a singular definition of intelligence, but rather, an inclusive, broad set of abilities that vary from person to person. 

It is a simple system for children to categorize their innate learning disposition using colors, visuals, and words to help students recognize what kind of learner they are, and how they can use their unique set of intelligences to influence the world. While there are many personality tests for adults, such as Meyers Briggs or Enneagram, Bob’s system is a one-of-a-kind, child friendly approach for AACA students to get to know themselves better.

An Almond Acres Charter Academy teacher addresses a classroom of children sitting on the carpet in front of her. The students are wearing brightly colored AACA uniforms.  There is an image of the AACA kite on the whiteboard.

Creating Our Own Kites 

Every school year, K-8 students at Almond Acres create their own kites as a visual representation of their individual strengths and struggles. Students spend time exploring their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and skills to define the different ways they are smart. 

When children are questioning the world around them, the question typically asked first may be drawn from his/her personal temperament. Children desire to seek answers that satisfy their inner curiosity. For example, a child with a strong blue kite has a dominant interpersonal intelligence and will likely be drawn to the who question. A green kite thinks more intra-personally and may often ask why. The red thinker wants to know where and how because he/she is more hands-on and visually smart. The yellow kite considers the logistics of a question and asks what and when. If we follow the natural questioning path that a child travels, we are likely to lead him/her straight to the answer they are seeking.

Creating our kites every year is a celebration of who we are and who we are becoming. The kites might change from year to year as we go deeper into our learning and self-awareness. What a joy to know that who we are is acknowledged, nurtured and challenged to be the best version of ourselves. 

Students also create a class kite — to represent their group dynamic — and every AACA teacher shares their individual kite with the class, as well. 

“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.”

AACA Parent
Almond Acres athletes pose together for a photo in the new school gymnasium.  They are wearing blue uniforms with the Kite mascot.

At Almond Acres the kite is used in many ways including the school logo, uniform colors and on lunch tables. The Kite bird has even become our beloved school mascot. The white tailed kite is a local bird that floats like a kite while searching for its prey. 

Once we affirm how everyone is strong — then every student and staffer can be stretched, and then celebrated as they grow, learn and fly! At AACA, you’ll see us proudly flying our kites high. We hope to inspire everyone to see the beauty in our different abilities and celebrate all the ways we are smart. 

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!