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! 

Why Choose a Charter School

A charter school is a publicly funded, independently operated public school. Most charter schools are started from the ground up, by a team of passionate educators and parents who see a need in the community and decide to fill it. Charter schools operate under a contract between the school and the state government that outlines how the school will educate students in exchange for public funds. A charter school’s authorization is renewed every five years based on agreed upon expectations for educating students, including state standards and testing.  

Three Almond Acres Charter Academy upper school students smile for the camera.

Mission Driven

Founders of charter schools want to offer students and the community a unique approach to learning. They may choose to focus on college preparation, arts or sciences, or a specific curriculum; the sky’s the limit! The school’s unique mission drives the planning for the school and influences every part of the students’ day. 

Ten years ago, Almond Acres Charter Academy founders began with a powerful vision; to create a school that would be a part of, and continue, the tradition of the local districts, but also have greater flexibility in the delivery of curriculum, fiscal management, and decision making. A school and program of learning that centers the best of interests of children in all decisions was born. Today, Almond Acres has bloomed into a thriving charter school serving K-8 students of the Paso Robles area  – with heart and dedication. 

Student Centered

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all learning. Charter schools are usually centered on the needs of the student, often through a personalized curriculum or specialized offerings. An artistically inclined child can thrive in an arts-centered school, while another child may do best in a school with smaller classes and an emphasis on outdoor education. The ability to find a “just right fit” for your child’s schooling is very appealing. 

Growing Great Kids!

Affirming each for their strengths and struggles,

Stretching positive and productive habits of mind, and

Celebrating the awakening of creativity!

Our simple mission is to put students first. Almond Acres celebrates the uniqueness of each child by designing lessons based on the many ways a child can learn and identifying how children are smart, not just how smart they are. We value students for who they are now and who they hope to become and we take advantage of our small class sizes to build solid, affirming relationships that help students grow into the best version of themselves. 

Freedom to Innovate

Because charter schools are free to choose the best path to success, they can be an exciting hub of innovation and creativity. Highly qualified teachers are often attracted to work at charter schools for a chance to teach in a less restrictive way, with greater creative freedom, or with like-minded teachers and staff. 

In addition to an innovative project based approach, we use research backed practice to teach reading, writing and math fundamentals. Arts and sciences, leadership, technology, and unwavering student support are all included in our curriculum. Our service learning projects connect students to the local community, creating a bridge between schooling and life. And we get kids up and moving throughout the day with physical education and abundant athletic offerings, to strengthen young muscles and hearts.

The exterior of Almond Acres Charter Academy showcases the multiple intelligences with a series of signs and symbols.

Almond Acres teachers are the heart and soul of our school. Our teachers are committed to creative, energetic teaching, and a positive school culture that is modeled by every member of our staff. We teach to the strengths of every learner, including those with 504s and IEPs. 

Community & Size

Parents looking for a small school, where everyone knows their name, often look to charter schools to find a greater sense of community. Many charter schools are born out of a desire to create a like-minded community, where children can safely learn in a way that suits their needs.

Community is at the core of our safe and deliberately small K-8 charter school. At Almond Acres, every child gets personalized attention, caring instructors, and a close-knit academic environment. Communication between teachers and family is frequent.  Special events invite families to our school to celebrate our success and cheer on our growth. We lean on parents as our partners in growing well-rounded children into college-bound students. 

Almond Acres Charter Academy strives to offer excellence, flexibility, and choice in your child’s education. We love our close community and invite your family to experience all our charter school can offer.

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!

Benefits of a K-8 School

If you’ve ever stepped inside Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA), you sense that our school feels more like a home than just a school building. Everyone knows your name, from teaching staff to students to parents. We spend a lot of time together—our students are with us when learning the alphabet, multiplication tables and all the way through the formative years of middle school. This sense of family is a powerful benefit of attending our K-8 school.

student actors in a movie

Safe and Nurturing Environment 

By attending a K-8, families have fewer transitions and students get to remain in a safe, developmentally appropriate environment that nurtures students right where they are, suggests a Harvard Education Magazine study. The familiarity of the buildings, scheduling, and the staff gives students confidence and knowledge as they grow. Also—who doesn’t love fewer drop offs when you have multiple kids in school? 

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. Higher grades and greater involvement in extracurriculars like sports and performing arts, are a pretty great benefit, too. 

Leadership, Agency & Confidence

Have you noticed that leadership is a central tenet of our philosophy? 

Throughout the up to 9 years at Almond Acres, students are provided many opportunities to practice and learn character traits through the Leader in Me curriculum. The consistent messaging of our Habits of Mind in the classroom and during Shared Start, means that our AACA students get the opportunity to go more and more in depth each year. Students also practice these traits in the community through service learning projects, a cornerstone of our curriculum. 

Our middle school students look forward to the chance to be “top dogs” at Almond Acres. 7th and 8th graders serve as role models for the younger students and serve as the Student Body Leadership Team. They are proud to hold this responsibility and aim to set a good example for younger students. Additionally, our Buddy Program gives elementary students an opportunity to see that middle school can be pretty awesome.

Almond Acres also offers athletics for our entire K-8 student body. From intramurals to competitive teams, there is something for everyone. We cheer each other on from the start—it’s common to see our elementary students cheering on our middle school athletes. The athletic and team skills our students learn early on support greater participation in middle school. 

4 Almond Acres students in bright yellow uniforms run on a track

Students at a K-8 school also experience higher levels of self-esteem. At Almond Acres, we help students get to know all the ways they are smart. We focus on their strengths as we affirm, stretch and celebrate each individual. Students feel comfortable being challenged, learning new things, and taking risks. Our K-8th graders learn how to fail and start again for all nine years in a supportive atmosphere with trusted adults ready to help and guide.

Culture of Community

When you enroll at Almond Acres, you get more than an education, you get a school home that feels like family. Our K-8 culture is built on positive teacher-student-family relationships with emphasis on service to our community.

Our students benefit from a sense of security and support in knowing our teachers are there beyond the time shared in classrooms. We often see students make special connections with an elementary teacher and come back to stop by the classroom as a seventh grader; just to check in.

Almond Acres families are considered our greatest assets. Families participate in activities, fundraisers and decision making. They attend field trips, help out in the classrooms and support our teachers. We are thankful for parent involvement from kindergarten to 8th grade, which frees up time so Almond Acres staff can do what they do best: teach the heart, mind, body, and soul of every child. And parents love to see first-hand what happens at school, strengthening the school-home connection.

At Almond Acres, we are proud to offer our child-centered, holistic education and the benefit of consistency, support, mentorship and a school family for nine straight years. Rely on us to help create a secure foundation for your child. We are enrolling now for Fall 2022!

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! 

Vape-Free Campus

Over the 10 years we’ve been teaching at Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA), we’ve learned a few things about helping middle schoolers thrive. Things like when to push and when to give space; how to be silly but not embarrassing (middle schoolers hate that); and how to help kids make healthy decisions, like not to vape. 

Vaping may be trending nationwide, but not at Almond Acres.  We are proud to say we have a 100% vape-free campus. There are a lot of components to helping middle school students buck this trend.  Here’s how we do it: 

Structured and Joyful Middle School

We know that engaged kids are often responsible kids who don’t want to get involved with drugs and alcohol. Almond Acres middle school is designed, both in philosophy and community, to keep students active, social, and engaged. 

Five Almond Acres students standing in front of the new school

Our project-based learning gives middle school students control over the direction of their education. When students know the WHY, they become more deeply invested in learning. Inquiry projects allow our students to design the outcome and make an impact.

Accountability is at the core of our teachings.  As leaders within our K-8 school, Almond Acres middle school students take a leadership pledge. Students have an awareness of the consequences for not showing up as the best version of themselves and they don’t want to test those boundaries. This sense of control over their lives helps them rise to the high expectations we set.

With so many options for extracurricular activities like performing arts, after-school programs and community service, AACA students don’t have a lot of extra free time to make poor choices. Our robust athletics program offers everything from competitive teams to intramurals and club sports, providing an outlet for social interaction, team-building skills, and risk-taking in a safe environment. When a trophy or a PR is on the line, it’s easy to see how vaping could derail your goals. 

Embedded in our curriculum is health education that includes research-based information from the National Institute of Drug Abuse. We know that knowledge is powerful when it comes to helping our students make decisions that impact their lives. By providing students with the facts about the harmful effects of drugs on growing bodies and minds, they can make choices that will keep them on their path to a bright future.

Close Knit Community

When middle school students know they are cared for and valued for who they are, they respond in kind. Our strong community keeps our students connected within safe boundaries. And frequent communication with families makes sure there are no gaps between what occurs at school and what parents are aware of.

Almond Acres teachers and staff care for each student who walks through our doors and our small school ensures that everyone is known by name. Teachers know that relationships built on trust and respect are the most important part of helping young minds grow.

Our school-wide buddy program, which helps bridge the lower school and middle school, builds positive interactions between older and younger children. Our middle school students are well aware of their influence on younger kids and they truly desire to set a good example and be a role model.

Almond Acres middle school students sit together around a round table to work on a project together

Begin With the End in Mind

As part of AACA’s leadership curriculum, we practice using the 7 Habits of Mind to support social and emotional well-being. A student favorite is “Begin with the end in mind,” meaning to identify your goals and dreams and then make a plan to get there. Our students spend time envisioning their dreams and future and our school community supports their path to those goals. We talk about obstacles that may get in the path of their dreams, like vaping, and how to safely get around such challenges. Education is what helps us grow strong minds and strong hearts. 

We invite you and your middle schooler to join us at Almond Acres and see the positive impact a holistic, child-centered education can have on your future. Enrollment for Fall 2022 is open now!

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!