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! 

Navigating a Digital World

Today’s parents are raising children in a world very different from the one in which they were raised. Our kids are increasingly connected via the internet and rely on technology for a large portion of their learning from smart tech to computers. And it’s no secret that despite the convenience of connection at our fingertips, technology and social media can have a big impact on our children’s development. 

Almond Acres is acutely aware of the challenges parents face in raising children to be well-rounded, secure, and confident adults. You are tasked with helping kids balance time spent online with time outdoors; with using tech to your advantage or taking a break for mental health. You are working hard to navigate the ever-changing relationship between kids and technology. 

Almond Acres wants to reduce the stress of technology on kids and families today. The best way we know to do this is through education and helping students make informed choices. Our comprehensive mission to grow good digital citizens is effective and visible: our middle school teachers and families report fewer instances of social media drama or bullying. 

The absence of online drama translates into confident, engaged, more content middle school students. Early education works and we are proud of our efforts. 

Our Mission

More than ever, we know that parents can’t do it alone.  That’s why being a good digital citizen is built into our curriculum. It’s our value. We’ve even written it into our mission statement:  

Almond Acres Charter Academy will promote and model positive uses of digital spaces in every classroom. We will build a culture of digital health across our school by incorporating character building into our digital citizenship instruction. 

We realize that our children will be shaping the world of tomorrow through their online identity

and digital footprint. It is our job as educators and parents to make sure they are prepared to share their voice with confidence and without regrets. 

We will ensure this happens by demonstrating the value of technology in enhancing achievement, improving students’ attitudes about themselves, and promoting the value of citizenship in the 21st-century digital world.

How We Do It

Starting in kindergarten, we begin talking about how to use technology responsibly and respectfully. Young students are exposed to different types of media and are guided as they explore the World Wide Web.  

Digital footprint is a phrase our students know well. From an early age, we teach that what we do online is an extension of ourselves that is very difficult to erase. We believe in always acting with integrity online. 

Throughout the elementary years, students are introduced to the concepts of online privacy and media literacy. We talk about navigating media and news outlets and how to evaluate a source for trustworthiness.

Our commitment to the whole child means that we weave decision making and social emotional skills into everything we do. Strong character is essential to support students as compassionate leaders among their peers.

AACA middle school students on field trip to Camp Roberts Historical Museum

Tech & the Middle School Years

Teens and tweens, with their rapidly growing brains, are in a particularly vulnerable place when it comes to technology use. Middle schoolers are making sense of the world around themselves and developing an identity among their peers. And they are very savvy tech users—and have probably surpassed their parents’ understanding! 

The power couple of digital citizenship and social emotional learning, has shown to improve academic performance and decrease conflict between students. Almond Acres students gain leadership skills and develop empathy so they can be a shining example of positive social media use. 

Almond Acres middle school students are invested members of our community. They know they are held accountable for their actions while also given the space to stretch into themselves. Our well-rounded curriculum and engaging environment provide a safe, supported place for middle schoolers to navigate the world.  

As always, our students know that they can talk to us about anything they see on-line.  We have zero tolerance for bullying and we encourage students to stand up for their peers and friends to report social media abuse when they see it. We are here to help students solve problems and care for each other.  

Common Sense Certified School

Almond Acres is proud to be a Common Sense Certified School. Teachers incorporate digital citizenship lessons into classes each year that are age appropriate and designed to build upon each other as students age up. By the time students reach 8th grade, they have had the opportunity to develop lifelong habits.

Our time-tested and well-balanced approach to learning means our students have the opportunity to develop in all ways—heart, mind, body and soul.  We create balance through exposure to arts and sciences, athletics and our Habits of Mind program, preparing students to enter the digital world with a little prudence. 

For 10 years, Almond Acres has partnered with K-8 families to help children navigate a digital world. We are proud of our outcomes and think you will be, too. Enroll today to get started 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! 

Get Ready to PLAY!

Rendering of Almond Acres Charter Academy with future playground site marked

We are all so excited to move into our new campus in Paso Robles. But as we finish up the many details to make this possible, we want to share some big news with you!

Starting today, November 8, AACA is launching a campaign to raise $50,000 for a new playground. We are planning to transform our west side outdoor space into a place for every student to enjoy.

How can you help?

  1. By making a gift! Click HERE to learn more about the campaign and make a one-time tax-deductible gift to support the playground.
  2. By spreading the word! Tell your friends and family about the campaign and encourage them to get involved. We could use their support!

For questions or more information, please contact us at giving@aaacademy.com Thank 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. 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! 

Where Everyone Knows Your Name

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. 

A parent poses with her daughter during a visit to Almond Acres to share about her profession as a Registered Nurse.

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.

Almond Acres Charter Academy executive director and students enjoy lunch together outside

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! 

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! 

Our Culture of Learning: Empowering Students to Take the Wheel

“The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.”

Dr. Maria Montessori
An Almond Acres Charter Academy student takes a huge leap into a sand pit

Just as parents know that each of their children is unique, we, too, know that each child that walks through the doors of Almond Acres Charter Academy is endowed with their own set of talents, skills, and dispositions. We believe the first step to learning is to honor and understand the individuality of each student: we affirm their strengths and struggles so that we can then stretch and grow them into the best version of themselves. 

A student who takes ownership of their learning is motivated, engaged, and self-directed. Is there a more perfect description of our AACA students? Our talented teachers know that learning isn’t imposed upon the unwilling, which is why we provide the opportunities and support for learning to flourish while assuring our students of their capacity to achieve. Here’s how we intentionally design our curriculum to create a learning environment that develops the heart, mind, body, and soul. 
From the start of our K-8 school, we put learning in the hands of our students through authentic project-based learning that is both meaningful and creative. Cultivating future leaders is also an essential part of growing great kids. Our students develop leadership skills based on Stephen Covey’s popular work, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

We foster academic achievement by:

  • Hiring fully credentialed CLAD or BCLAD certified teachers
  • Adopting research-proven instructional strategies
  • Incorporating 21st century learning technologies in every classroom
  • Adhering to current state standards in all subject areas
  • Using service and project based learning units of study 
  • Wearing school uniforms to promote harmony among peers
  • Participating in California state mandated tests  
  • Supporting classrooms with paraeducators
  • Providing more one-on-one instruction
  • Integrating physical movement, visual and performing arts, and music to enhance learning

Destination Imagination Enrichment Program

Many of our students also participate in Destination Imagination, a competitive, international STEAM based after-school enrichment program.  Many of our teams have made it to the State Finals, and one team has attended the Global Finals! We are proud to offer Destination Imagination programs that are unique to North County schools.

Four Almond Acres Charter Academy students have the opportunity to touch a snake with the help of a community adult

We believe all children can learn and succeed

At the core of Almond Acres Charter Academy is the belief that all children have the inherent ability to learn and succeed. We help our K-8 students identify their individual learning styles and their innate intelligences, while providing settings in which they are most capable to excel. Our school is proud to offer Personalized Learning Portfolios (PLP) for every student, small class sizes in a small school environment, flexible spending, contemporary technologies, and a high level of family and community interaction.

We believe that a love of learning comes naturally in an environment that focuses on empowering students to be active participants in their own education. Join us and help your child grow into his or her best self!

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! 

All about kinder!

At Almond Acres Charter Academy, our scholastic mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We believe an education that addresses all aspects of a child’s life creates balanced, happy learners. And we kick it all off — in kindergarten. 

Kindergarten is a special time. Kindergarten introduces every child to the world of school and learning; and, kindergarten helps each kid to grow and develop their physical, emotional, and mental capabilities. We can’t wait to welcome our kindergartners this fall so we put together a round-up of a few of the fun things we do in our Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA) kinder classes each day. Our two kinder teachers teach, explore, and engage our kids in so many creative and energetic things each day — here’s a glimpse:

From the importance of capitalization to high-frequency words to all the basics of writing… Mr. Smith has it covered. Check out his YouTube channel or watch him in action here: 

Almond Acres Charter Academy kindergarten teachers in funny costumes on a bus to a field trip

Ms. Brabenec is a teacher shark! Can you believe it??? Math has never been more fun. And her ideas on how to keep trying will have every kinder laughing and laughing; 

Almond Acres Charter Academy kindergarten class drumming lesson

When we’re not learning math, or writing, or going on field trips — we might get hands-on with drums. Or run around together in our PE class. Or showcase our creativity for our all-school Maker Faire. Or sing together in music. We create self-portraits, learn to read and start to learn about metacognition. Every kinder supports our classroom with special jobs, too. We do lots of fun things each day at AACA, and we can’t wait to share them ALL with you and your great kids!

Almond Acres Charter Academy teacher Miss Birch

And last but FAR from least, Ms. Birch. Ms. Birch has taught at AACA previously but not in kindergarten. She taught fifth grade. Ms. Birch will be new to this kinder class this year, taking over for Ms. Brabanec — and she can’t wait! Check out this video of one of her students explaining why she is such a special teacher: 

About Almond Acres

Almond Acres is relocating to Paso Robles! 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 in all communities, the school is currently located in San Miguel and moving to Paso Robles for the 2021-22 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!