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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! 

Parents as Partners

An Almond Acres administrator and student smile at the camera. The student is wearing a blue AACA uniform.

When schools and families work together, good things happen for children. At Almond Acres (AACA), we see good things popping up all around: in children’s smiles, the achievements of our students, and the positive connections between students and teachers. 

Our goal is the same as yours: to grow great kids. When we combine our efforts, we all flourish. We are honored that you trust us to continue the hard work you do to help your child become the best version of themselves. It’s a goal that we nurture day in and day out at Almond Acres. 

Home & School Links

The foundation of our strong community is even stronger communication, the key to understanding each other and making sure everyone’s needs are met. We build trust with you by promising to provide honest and open communication between all parents, staff, students and families. 

We primarily utilize ParentSquare to keep you informed and up-to-date with school events, our calendar, and notifications from teachers. We love the simple, uniform app that makes communication a snap. Be sure to turn on alerts!

If you are on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll also find highlights of sporting events and classroom accomplishments. You can join our closed Facebook group that is run by parent volunteers to be notified of fun reminders and event invites. 

And chances are good, since you are reading here, that you’ve already found the Almond Acres Blog. We update our blog weekly with notes and stories about our philosophy, student achievement, and recaps of special events. If we’re lucky, Mr. B will share a bit of his parenting/teaching wisdom and tell us more about the Habits of the Week. You’ll want to check in weekly so you won’t be alarmed when your child comes home and wants to talk about ways to sharpen her saw

An Almond Acres student in blue uniform eats lunch at the new AACA campus.

Student-Led Conferences

At AACA, you get frequent contact and honest dialog about your student’s growth. Our twice yearly, student-led conferences help students take an active role in identifying their own strengths and struggles. During conferences, young learners will identify personal and academic goals while seeking support from both their teachers and families to achieve these goals. You are an essential part of your child’s success! 

Growing Great Families

When you enroll your child at AACA you gain a community that rallies around children and families. One of the ways we give to our relationship with parents is through our Growing Great Families series led by Former Executive Director Bob Borgault, aka Mr. B. This is a weekly community event that welcomes parents and caregivers to come together to learn something new on topics of interest in education and parenting. We discuss the Habit of the Week and enjoy learning from each other. We hope you’ll join us!

Volunteering 

We lean on you to help make our school community great. There are many ways to get involved to make our school community stronger. One of the simplest ways is through the Parent Site Council (PSC), Almond Acres’ version of a PTA. The PSC provides support to both school families and the school administration. They assist with passive fundraising, the Uniform Swap, spirit wear, parade floats, staff appreciation, family events, and more! Whether you want to be a member of the council, or are interested in volunteering, the PSC is the place to start. 

The success of our children is our greatest collaboration. We are eternally thankful for the support of all of our families in lifting up the Almond Acres community. We make a great team! 

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! 

How We Build Community

Without a doubt, the key to our success as a thriving charter school is due to the active and engaging community we enjoy at Almond Acres. This isn’t a community that happened accidentally. We believe that it takes a village to Grow Great Kids and we’ve intentionally built a community that not only rallies around our mission, but all members of Almond Acres and our greater community. We offer many opportunities to come together, connect and share our talents. Here are a few ways we hope to draw you in and make you feel that you belong here.

An Almond Acres student and adult speak in front of the class. The class is watching and raising hands to participate. The children are wearing brightly colored red, yellow and blue school uniforms.

New Families

Joining a new school community might be a little intimidating at first, whether you are 7 or 37. For new families, your first introduction to our school might be at our summer Meet the Staff Picnic. It’s an exciting time to meet your new teachers, see friends from last school year and mingle with other AACA families. Our Parent Site Council (PSC) also has a table at the event with information on how to get involved and to answer questions.  

On the first day of school, we host a coffee event at school for all AACA families. Whether it’s your first child or your baby, sending one of your kids off to kindergarten is both momentous and emotional. You are invited to gather with us and meet people who are going through the same thing.

You’ll also find that AACA has a variety of informal social gatherings throughout the year to help you connect with other families. We have moms who gather after drop off to walk and talk and parents who make plans to play bingo or hang out at a trivia night. There is a spot for everyone if you are interested. 

If you would rather ease into the social events, participating in zoom calls with Mr. B on Wednesdays for our Growing Great Families is an opportunity for you. We meet you where you are–virtual or in-person!

Many Hands Make Light Work

Our community is strengthened by the generous gift of time our families give to our school. After health and fingerprint clearance, parents are encouraged to share their strengths with our school. There are so many options, whether you want to be in the school during school hours or provide support from the comfort of your home. We can work with your schedule. Here’s a few examples of ways parents get involved: 

  • Recess supervision
  • Classroom helper
  • Pop up reader session
  • Weekend work day
  • Coach sports
  • Lead an enrichment class

Don’t see your specific skill listed? Tell us! We are a strengths-based school and we want to utilize your talents. Reach out to the Parent Site Council (PSC) and we will work with you to create an opportunity to make a difference in our community. Better yet, join the PSC and be a part of the planning! 

Two Almond Acres students stand with two adults dressed in US Navy and US Army uniforms. They are standing near a US flag.

Community Events

We also host a variety of events throughout the year that bring us together for a common goal and have fun. The annual Read and Run Relay brings out AACA families and our greater community to cheer on our kids every spring. You can be a lap marker, help distribute water, cheer on the kids as they pass by or sit with a student who chooses to read rather than run. This incredible fundraiser brings out one hundred volunteers in one day! 

Our Performing Arts Production is a chance for all AACA students to shine. Everyone from kindergarten to 8th grade is welcome to audition for our school play. It’s wonderful to see the kids use an ounce of courage to audition and do something that may be a bit outside of their comfort zone. When you volunteer to help with the production, you may even be helping kids discover an unknown talent! 

Our vibrant community is doing great things together for the kids of Paso Robles. Jump in and join us–we’ll find a spot for you.  

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! 

Engaging Our Senses

Kids and teachers, alike, love field trips! At Almond Acres, we get students out into our community and natural world as often as possible, not only because it’s fun, but because it enhances our learning. 

Why might a lesson experienced on a field trip be so much more effective than one in the isolation of a classroom? Believe it or not, our five senses have something to do with it. 

In the classroom, we might use our sense of sight and sound to learn a new concept; hearing a story read to us, or reading a story to ourselves. In our natural environment, we use many more senses. Field studies provide the sight, sound, smells, feelings, and actions that make up an entire concept.
For example, a trip to the tidepools to study animal habitats engages your sense of smell with the fresh ocean air. You hear the seagulls and the crashing waves, You taste the salt in the air. You feel the gentle breeze on your skin. You see an anemone clinging to a rock. Each part of you is taking in and processing the experience, working in concert to create a memory of lasting learning.

An Almond Acres student smiles while holding a sea creature in her hand. She is standing in front of the rocks and water while on a school science trip.

Even a trip to California Pizza Kitchen can help children turn the abstract concept of fractions into concrete learning. They will never forget the sights, sounds and smells of cutting a pizza into equal parts. Smell is particularly effective at evoking memories–businesses engage your sense of smell often to entice you to return (can you follow your nose to Starbucks or Burger King?).

We use multiple senses and integrate more areas of the brain to remember knowledge or skills. Gathering data through all the senses is a powerful way to incorporate ideas and skills with any lesson. Those in multisensory environments always do better than those in unisensory environments that rely on technology only for learning. They have more recall, with better resolution, that lasts longer–evident even 20 years later. Try as they might, the digital world cannot authentically replicate a multi-sensory experience. 

Students from Almond Acres Charter Academy watch a museum docent use historical tools.

When teaching your child something new, make it a conscious exercise by identifying as many sensations as possible. Go beyond the visual, kinesthetic, and auditory. Ask questions about sight, sound, smell, taste, visual space/perspective. Be a sensational thinking coach. A sensational thinker has fifty percent more creative solutions when solving a problem

Our senses work together so it is important to stimulate them! Your head crackles with the perceptions of the whole world, sight, sound, taste, smell, touch–as energetic as a pool party. 

How are you engaging your senses daily? Getting outside is a great place to start! 

Learning Links

Gathering Data with Senses

Learning is Multi-sensory: How to Engage All Senses

Brain Rules #9 – Stimulate More of the Senses

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!