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! 

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! 

We Are Makers!

A Maker Faire is a celebration of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. It’s a place to show what we’ve made and to share what we’ve learned with others. Our Maker Faire is a great sharing opportunity for our Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA) educational community.

We did not want the school year to slip away without highlighting the amazing creativity of our AACA students. AACA students once again used the flipgrid platform and showcased their creations, inventions, and crafting ability for all to see virtually.  Standout projects included a cardboard car, a bird-feeder, stop-motion legos, yummy food crafting, and even a grabbing tool!

Over 30 of our K-8 public charter school students participated in our annual event and they did not disappoint. These students all had an “ounce of courage” and stepped up to highlight what an amazing mind they are growing at Almond Acres. 

Almond Acres Charter Academy and maker faire students with balloons and water bottles

More about our STEAM Offerings 

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.

Unique to North County schools, and in previous non-pandemic years, many AACA students have participated in Destination Imagination, a competitive, international STEAM based after-school enrichment program. In 2019, the majority of our teams made it to the State Finals, and two years in a row we had a team compete at Global Finals (2018 & 2019)! 

Almond Acres maker faire and student invention

Meaningful & Creative 

Our tuition-free charter school is proud to offer Personalized Learning Portfolios (PLP) for every student, small class sizes in a small school environment, contemporary technologies, and a high level of family and community interaction

We integrate service and project based learning units of study at all grade levels because students learn best when their work is meaningful and creative. Cultivating future leaders is also an essential part of growing great kids.  Our students develop their leadership skills through the Leader in Me system, which is based on Stephen Covey’s work, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. 

New School Coming Soon!

Our new school home in Paso Robles is underway. We specifically designed our school to incorporate ideal design elements for K-8 learning and collaborating. For making and building. For creating and exploring. What a way to honor our 10 years as a charter school! 

Opening this fall, our Kindergarten and first grade classes have slightly larger classrooms allowing for room to move. Our second and third grades and fourth and fifth grades will be side-by-side with a collapsible wall in-between to integrate subject areas and share teacher expertise and passions. 

Our middle school encompasses two wings at the front of our new school. These two areas will be academies that focus on humanities classes like language arts and social sciences. We’ve designed a learning space that mimics a college library. The second middle school wing will have STEM and STEAM classrooms — including a creativity lab. This project-based learning space will be used for science and art classes. We can’t wait to open our new school doors and start creating, together!  We grow great kids. Join us and enroll 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. The school is located in San Miguel and is open to all students in 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!