In the MIDDLE of the Action! Almond Acres Middle School

“Because of the programs at our school, like Destination Imagination, Leadership, Project-based learning and Theater, my daughter is thriving — not just surviving — in middle school! Her confidence has grown, she has outstanding grades, and her character is strong.”

Almond Acres Charter Academy parent

Learning is a collaborative process. At Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA), the education of our students is built on having a strong and inspiring support system in place. We deliver our high-quality service and project-based curriculum via our dedicated and experienced teachers and our we-are-a-family, tight knit AACA community. 

We actively maintain a partnership and open communication between parents, students, teachers, and community members. This is our learning team and how we grow healthy kids. We give our students this foundation so they can feel confident in their ability to investigate their world and who they are. It sparks a desire to learn and grow, and ensures flourishing academic experiences full of opportunities and exploration. This is especially true at our middle school. 

colorful lockers

Our middle school is known for having small classes. With a 1:28 student-to-teacher ratio, our instructors truly know each sixth – eighth grade student. 

Our middle schoolers get to be leaders. They give tours to prospective families and they help every morning with our Shared Start. Our middle schoolers even create events as part of our project-based learning units. Our seventh graders created a Family Forum where families came together to discuss issues pertinent to middle schoolers while playing games in a relaxed atmosphere.  The Family Forum allowed for conversation about challenges our middle school kids are currently facing. Not only was the event well-executed, the middle school students showed tremendous maturity and willingness to both share and listen. We grow great kids! 

Family Forum sign

Our middle schoolers act as admirable role models for other kids and families. Our middle school students recently took on the responsibility of promoting literacy. Some focused on our AACA school itself by tutoring kindergarteners, giving up their own recess(!)  to work with the younger students on sight words and reading. Other middle schoolers built and stocked a tiny share library to be installed between our kindergarten and first grade classrooms. Moving beyond our school, some students built a tiny free library for their neighborhood, helped out in a childcare environment and read to children at a homeless shelter. 

boy reading

One middle school student focused on literacy around the globe – and chose Uganda to make his mark. By making and selling homemade strawberry jam, this Almond Acres middle school student raised funds to work with a local charity in Uganda and raise enough funds to provide pens, paper, and English textbooks for an entire classroom! 

Being a small school, our middle school students can access many activities and experiences. Our middle school kids can play on the volleyball team AND be in the school play. They can pursue a wide variety of scholastic and extracurricular endeavors  – and gain exposure to their talents and interests as well as natural gifts. This confidence is so valuable at this critical age! 

baseball players

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! 

A-HA! Almond Acres At-Home Academy

If you’re considering alternatives to classroom instruction for fall 2020, check out Almond Acres’ flexible At-Home Academy option. This exciting choice is open to all — not just current Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA) families.  

Our At-Home Academy is a distance learning option for a limited time.

Our charter and our Almond Acres charter school are not changing. Rather, we are offering an additional option for families this fall. 

Our At-Home Academy offers the consistency and minimal disruption many families crave right now.

Our Covid 19 plans for in-person learning are in flux much like schools everywhere. At-Home Academy offers a reliable, uninterrupted approach that is integrated, prescribed and responsive. 

COVID response plan

Our At-Home Academy is an iteration of AACA’s distance learning.

Being a small school allows us, at AACA , to nimbly adapt to the changing needs of our families. This past spring during the pandemic our AACA distance learning program debuted our strength in designing education that’s outside the box of traditional school programs. 

95% of our survey-responding AACA families felt our distance learning program exceeded or greatly exceeded expectations

Our At-Home Academy is a timely option to traditional classroom instruction.

Our recent distance learning metamorphosis and its success catapulted us to think further about ways to support our families for fall 2020. We feel energized and excited to add a distance learning At-Home Academy for all families who want this comprehensive educational opportunity.  

Our At-Home Academy is more flexible.

Our At-Home Academy allows for flexibility and autonomy in schedules. Parents organize the school day and pacing of school work around household schedules and rhythms.

Parents are the learning coaches for your children.

By choosing our At-Home Academy, you’ll receive comprehensive AACA curriculum guides, training opportunities, and regular school collaboration. 

Parents have more control.

Our AACA At-Home model consists of instruction happening in the home while families absolutely maintain the close family/school connection that is special to AACA. 

We use the same curriculum for A-HA and site-based students.

Students in the At-Home Academy will use the same curriculum as peers in the site-based model. At-Home Academy students will also enjoy curated, self-directed versions of our Service and Project Based Learning units.  These are a core component to our beloved AACA academic program. Additionally, when safety allows, all students will be encouraged to participate in our many field trips and guest speaker presentations.

Our ACCA At-Home Academy families will foster positive behavior and good citizenship lessons together at home.

You can choose to join our daily virtual Shared Start assembly where we enjoy learning from the Habits of Mind or the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or watch it later when it’s convenient for you. 

No one is missing out.

AACA’s vibrant school culture and climate is still all yours. At-Home Academy parents can participate in events happening on campus virtually or in-person whenever possible.  You can participate in Shared Start, the Program Site Council (AACA’s equivalent to a PTO/PTA) and attend our Growing Great Kids webinars (available on demand) where we share and learn strategies to assist with a variety of parenting scenarios.

At-Home Academy families share in all of the school-wide virtual or in-person – both activities AACA offers.

These include annual events like: 

  • Maker Faire
  • Musical theatre production
  • 8th grade promotion
  • Kinder Celebration
  • Read Run Relay
  • Talent show
  • Back to school night
At-Home families are encouraged to attend our 2x/monthly Friday virtual celebration events.

These include awards assemblies, positive behavior reinforcing events and more. 

Almond Acres Charter Academy is designing this At-Home program to meet the needs of our current families and any future families.

If you’re interested in exploring the At-Home Academy program now available through AACA, please email us: or call our school office at 805-467-2095. 

Enrolling for Almond Acres and At-Home Academy is the same.

Since AACA is a charter school, and we are a school of choice, no interdistrict transfer is required to enroll. Enrolling for in-person AACA and At-Home Academy is the same – parents just need to check a box during the enrollment process

Learning Options graphic

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! 

Flexible = Exceptional

We’re Nimble. At Almond Acres we had to adapt to COVID 19 like every other school, and we adapted fast. From our surveys, 100% of our families were satisfied with our transition to distance learning. Here are some key reasons why: 

  1. We maintained! We held on to our routines and programs in the first week of closure. Shared Start kicked off every morning and teachers re-engaged all students into the class. Our students and families could count on us consistently —  every morning M-F at 8:00 am! We saw each other, connected and set the tone for the day ahead. Staff and our student leadership team ran the meeting and each day had a theme, same as it did at in-person school. Mondays we addressed the habit of mind and Tuesdays we reiterated TeRRiFiC citizenship. Wednesdays we wished happy birthdays. Thursdays we shared what makes us thankful. Fridays we shared some funnies.  Best of all, our students showed up! We got 150-200 views daily and some kids kept wearing their uniforms! 
  2. We kept it simple and consistent! We used the same apps and platforms across all classes and grades. Flip Grid, Zoom, Google classroom. Parents, families and students all learned and accessed the same distance learning protocols, regardless of their grade. If one application didn’t work for all grades of our kids, we changed it. Quickly! 
distance learning
  1. We stayed connected! We set the expectation early – and we met it — that students would see their teachers everyday. If they weren’t online, we’d give them a call. We worked together to problem-solve and to maintain structure. 
  2. We shared! Photos, funnies, student artwork, creations and birthday wishes. We are a community first and foremost and we showed it even when not together in the same building. Character development is an enormous part of our curriculum and we continued our commitment to it, even when learning from afar.
boy in AACA green shirt
  1. We persevered! We even continued annual events virtually such as the Read and Run Relay, Maker Faire, and a Talent Show! 

We’re immensely proud of our Almond Acres family for how well we ALL adapted to  COVID19 and the uncertain landscape. We are energized by the positive reviews we continue to receive from families — students and parents — about how we did. And whatever is decided for Fall 2020 and the school year ahead, you can bet we will be ready to share, maintain, connect, keep it simple and consistent, and persevere! 

Every child is unique. At Almond Acres tuition-free public charter school, we serve grades K-8 and we educate the whole child: heart, mind, body, and soul.  Our focus on meaningful educational experiences within our community embraces service and project-based learning.  We also emphasize character development and strong citizenship standards alongside our robust curriculum. We are enrolling now. We grow great kids! 

Think Win-Win: The Habit of Mutual Benefit!

“Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win is based on the paradigm that there is plenty for everybody – that one person’s success is not achieved at the expense of others.” – Stephen Covey

We have 100,000,000,000 neurons in our brains and each can connect to 10,000 of its neighbors. This is how we can have win-win. Recognizing that there are so many answers to the decisions and challenges of the world. Seeking first to understand the feelings, ideas, and solutions of our family, friends, and colleagues is the best way to start a win-win. Helping children to recognize that their way plus your way may be the best way. But it takes time and energy to stop an listen. I encourage us to find the time to create win-win experiences for our children. 

Mother’s Day was a great example of thinking win-win. If our families appreciate our mom’s often enough and express it with kindness and carefree timelessness, our mom’s are better mom’s. In the long run, when someone else wins, other’s do too. Thinking win-win is the only good alternative to healthy relationships. 


  • Heart – Speak to one another at the same eye level with a cheerful countenance – even when it’s hard.
  • Mind – Solve an equation together so that each person’s smarts can become the others’.
  • Body – Exercising together is a great encourager. 
  • Soul – Talk about personal dreams and how your family can help each person’s come true. As we look into the summer fun time this might be a very important conversation. 

Learning Links

Sharpen the Saw: Be Strong in Key Moments

As you attempt to win your Daily Private Victory (AKA, sharpening your saw; heart, mind, body, & soul), you’ll encounter obstacles. These difficult, pivotal moments include such things as:
  • Getting up on time (“mind over mattress”)
  • Controlling your temper and not saying the unkind thing
  • Disciplining yourself to eat healthy foods
  • Sticking to your reading regimen when you are busy
When you discipline yourself to make it through these decisive moments, you will reap great rewards.
Ways to Practice
Heart – Spend some carefree timelessness with family and friends.
Mind – Tell your brain what you want to do. Skip the “try” word. Use “will”!
Body – Say yes to a good walk, meal, and night sleep.
Soul – Enter the classroom of silence and have a nice chat with yourself.
Learning Links

Think Win-Win

Consider other people’s wins as well as your own!

Being a leader isn’t some grandiose episode in life. Leadership is doing the next right thing in the moments of life. Many moments of our day can be understood as opportunities for win-win. An abundance mentality improves self-worth and promotes positive relationships.

Win-win means that I …

  • value your needs and desires equally to my own.
  • seek mutual benefit.
  • cooperate rather than compete.
  • use courage and compassion when communicating.

Common (Incorrect) Paradigm

There is only so much, and the more you get, the less there is for me.

Highly Effective Paradigm

There is plenty out there for everyone and more to spare.

Highly Effective Practice

Celebrate other’s wins as well as your own!

At Home:

  • Do chores together.
  • Review the weekly calendar to find time for each person to do things they wish to.
  • Sit knee to knee to discuss challenging situations. 
  • Practice seeking first to understand, then to be understood.
  • Create an affirmation poster to celebrate victories for each member of the family. 

In the Classroom:

  • With student input, review the activity(ies) of the day/week. 
  • Remind students about making deposits in the Relationship Bank Account we have with each other.
  • Start by having a volunteer offer one thing another student did well during the activity/day/week. (Be sure to point out that each student may only receive one compliment.) 
  • Then, the recently complimented student will offer one thing someone else did well during the week.
  • Continue until everyone has given and received one compliment. 
  • Students may answer this prompt in their journals: If you have a relationship that needs improvement, what deposits will you make in the Relationship Bank Account?