Choose Your Own Weather

“If you can’t see the bright side of life, polish the dull side.” – Nathan, Mr. B’s son

Did you know that it’s possible to choose your own weather? No, you can’t control what falls from the sky, or when spring will arrive, but you can control your own personal weather forecast each and every day. 

Our choice to smile or grumble is controlled by our personal choice power. It’s true that “stuff” happens every day, but how we respond to that stuff is entirely in our circle of control. We are influenced by the people and circumstances in our life and our response to them is a choice. Believing that we have a choice and control is the first step toward personal efficacy and empowerment.

Almond Acres Charter Academy 4th graders play in the mud during a field trip

Mess or Fun? Almond Acres 4th graders prove that mud is just a matter of perspective.

One of my jobs as a parent is to get myself out of the job before my child is an adult. I expect that he or she will have the personal strength to handle what life dishes out each day. Teaching our children to think positively and proactively when it comes to life events, academics, sports, hobbies, or relationships, etc. can help them to recognize the power they have over their circumstances. 

When you achieve success in school and life, it’s clear how important it is to prioritize and organize studies, work, play, and relationships. Here are some examples of how this proactive philosophy works in conjunction with our Almond Acres mission to develop the heart, mind, body and soul of each child: 

🔵 Heart – Assume the best in people.
🟡 Mind – Organize a study schedule that gets things done before they are due.
🔴 Body – Make lunch the night before so that it’s ready and right for a healthy lifestyle.
🟢 Soul – Spend time in the classroom of silence to reflect on the day and consider ways to make tomorrow terrific.

A positive and powerful approach to life is infectious. If someone calls me a knucklehead and I respond with, “you are brilliant and beautiful”, I can stop them in their tracks and help them to realize that their negativity is pointless in the face of positivity. It doesn’t mean to always be Pollyanna about things, but adding a negative to a negative only leads to more negative. Adding a positive to a negative reverses things in a positive direction. It’s fascinating to see a grouch put on a smile when someone with a positive disposition gets in their way.

There is a neurological term for eliciting a response from someone with a smile or a frown. The response is called “mirroring”. Mirror neurons exist in our brain and can cause us to smile when someone smiles at us, or frown when we frown. A proactive decision to make someone think positively because we are acting or speaking positively has powerful results.

The See – Do – Get Model

The See – Do – Get model of thinking helps us to remember that how we SEE things (whether it be our perspective, feelings, or thoughts) will lead us to action (DO) and our actions achieve results (GET). When we don’t achieve the results we hope for it is often a result of an error in how we are seeing things or in the actions we hoped would achieve the result. Use this model to help your child recognize that his or her proactive response to life can have dramatic positive results on their future.

A graphic of the See Do Get Model with arrows. In the center of the model, the principles of responsibility, choice, accountability, initiative, and resourcefulness are illustrated.

Interested in taking your learning on Choosing Your Own Weather a bit further? You can watch an interesting video here and take a deep dive on career coaching here. How do you make your own weather forecast everyday? 

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! 

Preparing for High School & Beyond

Middle school is a powerful transition for young people. Moving from a more dependent to independent relationship with parents and teachers creates a ripe opportunity for great thinking development. The anticipation of a new school, new people, and challenging academics requires extra patience, grace, and intelligent thinking skills. At Almond Acres Charter Academy, we ease this transition from middle school to high school with attention to leadership and character development built into our child centered education. We have your child’s future in mind from the minute they step through the door at Almond Acres. Beginning in kindergarten, we target students’ strengths and areas of improvement by affirming all the ways they are smart and stretching them into the best version of themselves. Our intentionally small school helps build strong relationships, giving students a solid foundation from which to grow into the capable and competent people they are.

Five Almond Acres 8th graders leaning against a wall

“Pathways” Leadership Skills Classes 

With guidance from our executive director, we help middle school students prepare for adult life by developing the thinking skills and habits of mind necessary for success. Each of the three grade levels, 6th, 7th & 8th, examine essential skills and habits that will help them navigate life after AACA. 

In 6th grade, students take a deeper dive into the school-wide study of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. These habits help to keep us focused on dreams, positive relationships, and skills for life long after our school years. In our 7th grade leadership class, students hone in on these same skills with more advanced reading: The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make A Guide for Teens: Updated for the Digital Age by Sean Covey. This study examines the critical decisions made during the adolescent years that can make or break happiness and success in life. Self-worth, Parents, Friends, College/Career, Dating, and Extracurricular Activities are examined using the AACA decision making model.

Almond Acres volleyball team stands in a circle in the middle of the new gymnasium

8th graders jump into one of our favorite books: The Middle School Student’s Guide to Academic Success: 12 Conversations for College and Career Readiness by Carissa Logan. The book examines the positive conversations that adults and middle schoolers can have to plan for the future. The 12 conversations are:

  1. Goals
  2. Planning & Preparation
  3. Time Management
  4. Grade Point Average (GPA)
  5. Extra- & Co-Curricular Activities
  6. Service
  7. College Entrance Exams
  8. Internships & Work Experience
  9. Money Management & Scholarships
  10. College Application Process
  11. Interviewing
  12. Share Your Experience

We also incorporate lessons designed around essential skills such as healthy keys to communication, smart decision-making, and effective study skills. Our community partners provide ample opportunity to strengthen social skills through field trips, service projects, clubs and sports. Strengthening social skills from an early age helps students deal with the stress of change as they grow, leading to resilient, confident kids, prepared to tackle what comes their way. 

8th grade promotion is bittersweet as we send our students on their way to new horizons. We know we have prepared them to spread their wings and fly and are grateful when they return to share their success with us. It’s an honor to support our students on their life’s pathway. Almond Acres Charter Academy grows great kids now and beyond 8th grade.  

About AACAAlmond 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!

Testing with Joy, Not Anxiety

“You’ve learned the things you need

To pass that test and many more—

I’m certain you’ll succeed.

We’ve taught you that the earth is round,

That red and white make pink,

And something else that matters more—

We’ve taught you how to think.”


Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!
By Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky & Lane Smith
Two Almond Acres students in red and blue polo shirt uniforms smile while working at their desks

As a tuition-free public K-8 charter school, Almond Acres actively tests and assesses every student. Our annual standardized testing event for grades 3-8 is approaching, so we thought we would take a moment to share our testing philosophy and how we help students approach testing, which, just like taxes, is an inescapable part of life. Hint: It has to do with celebration! 

Let’s start with some basics of what standardized testing is and is not:

  • Your child’s innate ability is not defined by the test. 
  • Your child’s future is not decided by these tests.
  • Tests provide a snapshot of skills learned in this particular stage of life. 
  • Standardized tests are not all-encompassing.

Testing is just one of the ways we measure our success and growth. Almond Acres’ holistic approach to learning means that we teach to the whole child. A standardized test can’t measure heart, mind, body, and soul.

So Why Test?

In short, standardized testing is required by the State of California. All schools receiving public funds must participate in the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress. The data we receive from the test is used to improve instruction and tailor teaching closer to student needs. It also helps us set up goals, accommodations, plan for success, and target areas of intervention.

We firmly believe that the quality, standards-based teaching and learning that occurs all year prepares our students to pass and surpass standardized tests. Our project-based learning approach helps students gain real-world experience. It’s not just memorization—students have the opportunity to apply learning in an authentic, meaningful way. And, we’ve taught them how to THINK!–making it easier to tackle any question thrown their way.
In 10 years of public school operation, we’ve repeatedly seen standardized testing results confirm what we already know: our whole child curriculum is a key to success.

An Almond Acres student in a blue sweatshirt uniform works independently at a computer

Teacher Tips for Testing

Our teachers use our yearly testing event as an opportunity to prepare students to approach test taking as a genre. Students learn specific techniques to break apart tough questions unique to standardized tests, such as highlighting, re-reading and looking for clues. We also find great success with these positive affirmations to reduce test taking anxiety and increase confidence:

  • I know I can do this!
  • I will do my best work.
  • I am intelligent, smart, and amazing!
  • I will take my time.
  • I will stay focused.
  • I will stay positive.

As always, we encourage students to get a good night’s sleep and eat lots of healthy brain food (like protein and veggies) before the test. We also allow students to enjoy a lollipop or stick of gum during the test–it’s proven to help focus and calm our minds! 

4 Almond Acres students work at a table using paper and pencil

Testing is a Celebration!

Sometimes it’s as simple as a shift in thinking to change our mindset away from anxiety toward testing as a celebration. Like a volleyball game that you spend all season practicing for and then play, tests are an opportunity to celebrate our hard work and success. 

By celebrating this achievement — the test-taking itself  — we purposefully shift the dynamic from a pressure-filled event to one of inclusivity and shared experience. We introduce the idea of learning in our classrooms together as practice and testing itself as the ‘game,’ or our chance to show our stuff!  With preparation and practice, every opportunity to take a test can be a positive experience. Come celebrate with us at Almond Acres!

 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!

Random Public DrawingThursday, March 25th at 6pm

Join us via Zoom for a random, public drawing to determine enrollment and waitlists for the 2021-2022 school year!