Middle Schoolers Giving Back!

At Almond Acres Charter Academy, we grow great kids. We believe an education that addresses all aspects of a student’s life creates balanced, happy learners.  In fact, our scholastic mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. This mission is embedded in our school DNA and informs how we grow together every school day, and even when not in school together. It truly sets us apart from other K-8 learning environments.  

At Almond Acres, we grow great kids. Our middle school students are active volunteers in our community. Choosing to serve over the summer, our great kids are not given required service hours or obligatory assignments to engage in Paso Robles’s many amazing community offerings. Rather, they’re choosing to support our community during their summer break. Being good citizens is an important aspect of our AACA school model. And these middle schoolers are leading the way!

Almond Acres Charter School and middle schoolers volunteering at Vacation Bible School

Community Service

Here’s what some of our middle schoolers, past and present,  have to say, in their own words about their volunteering and community service:

“This summer I volunteered at a summer camp called Camp Good News for a week. I also have some volunteer opportunities through the Atascadero Antlers later in summer

I really enjoy seeing how much just a few hours of my time means to people.

AACA taught me the value of helping others and being part of the greater community.”

~Kenichi Parkhurst (graduate)

“During summer I have helped out with a V.B.S program at my church with kids my age. I got to help out with the second and third graders while teaching them about God.

Helping others has always inspired me to be a better person so I’ve always liked helping others because it not only warms someone else’s heart but also warms mine.

I have made many new friends through these experiences and I have also created a better bond with others I wasn’t as close to.

I think AACA has inspired me to volunteer through friends because my friends usually always have some fun things going on to join. But I think AACA has mostly inspired me to not be afraid to be myself and that every mistake is a lesson to learn and I have many of those possibilities while volunteering. “

~Mia Kosharek (8th grade)

“So far this summer, I have volunteered at a vacation bible school (VBS) as a group leader. I basically helped watch the kids as they went to their different activities throughout the day.

I also plan to volunteer at the Children’s museum this summer. I also babysit for friends of ours.

What I enjoy most about helping others is learning from the people I help. Most of the time when I help people out it includes children and I actually learn a lot from these kids because of their point of view on things.

AACA has inspired me in my volunteer work by always pushing me to be the best version of myself. It also inspired me because AACA has taught me to work hard and do the best that I can and to put first things first. I think by helping people I am practicing those important lessons I was taught.”

~Divy Emmons (graduate)

Six Almond Acres middles school students volunteering together

“ I love to help others and provide assistance where needed. I enjoy helping parents with their kids by babysitting because it brings me joy to hang out with younger kids. I also enjoy helping others so that they can do things that are important to them and by feeling that I impacted someone’s life positively.

Because of the Big Buddy program at Almond Acres, where older grades have a big buddy day where they get to do crafts and hangout with the younger elementary kids, I have wanted to babysit and hangout and support younger children and their families.”

~Kai Stoltzfus (8th grade)

“I’ve never done volunteer work prior to starting school at AACA, but this summer I had the opportunity to volunteer for a vacation bible school in the community.  Students at AACA invited me to attend a weekly youth group and the youth group asked me to volunteer.

It was a great experience. I enjoyed seeing the kids happy after a difficult year. I would be interested in more volunteering jobs in the future. I do feel AACA helped me find friends and inspired me to get more involved more than other schools I have been to.

For example, before AACA I went to a public middle school and it was nothing like Almond Acres. When I first came here, the community was very positive. Overall, the friends I’ve made this year at AACA, changed the year for me all together and made me understand what a difference I can make by volunteering.”

~Avery Mathews (8th grade)

“What I enjoy most about helping others is the satisfaction you get when you’ve made a difference in someone’s life.

I’ve made a bunch of new friends, it’s so much fun getting to meet new people and especially becoming buddies with the kids.

AACA has taught and inspired me to be the best version of myself and to think of others before yourself.”

~Hannah Bourgault (graduate)
school lockers in green, yellow, red, and blue

Find out more about Almond Acres Charter Academy, a tuition-free K-8 growing great kids, today! 

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!

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!

The Shows Must Go On!

Lights. Camera. Action! The pandemic didn’t stop our annual talent show or theatre efforts.

Instead of our annual theatre production, our eighth graders filmed a movie. We were thrilled to work with Paso Robles Youth Arts Center and are grateful for their partnership during COVID restrictions to make this movie happen.  Our movie is called, “ Precisely the Right Price” and with a small donation, anyone can watch it.  Download your copy today!

Almond Acres Charter Academy students onstage and in a movie with Paso Robles Youth Arts Center

We love it when we get to work with local  businesses, organizations, and individuals to support our youth and community. A special thanks to the talented Claire Fundaro who wrote and directed the show and the creative Ryan Flores for making magic with tech and lights! Our students are so fortunate to learn from both of these talented and generous humans.

Also, we’d like to give a shout-out to Eileen Higgins and Amy Baker for believing that the arts belong in school and helping make this production happen.

“Almond Acres offers a unique opportunity for its students through the process of production. The lessons that are taught in theatre will impact all aspects of these students’ lives. They’re given the chance to grow their confidence from auditioning, to rehearsing in front of their peers, and to the final product which creates a strong character within them. The process is invaluable, and I’m so grateful to be a part of the magic that only theatre can create.” 

~Claire Fundaro
Almond Acres Charter Academy student on a stage in character for a movie created with Paso Robles Youth Arts Center

Almond Acres’ Got Talent! 

Over 30 submissions this year! Our students submitted a two-minute video showcasing their talents. Once all the videos were submitted, we released them for viewing and commenting. Many classes had a “Talent Show Viewing Party”! Our AACA students have so many talents: from singing and dancing, to horseback riding and crafting!

Almond Acres Charter Academy knows that learning is most impactful when creativity is involved.

About Almond Acres

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! 

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! 

Standardized Testing is a Celebration!

Somehow charter schools have acquired a bit of a reputation for being soft on testing. That’s not true for us!  As a tuition-free public K-8 charter school, we actively test and assess every Almond Acres Charter Academy student. AND…we celebrate testing itself! 

Test-taking is a skill. It’s something we do throughout our lives. 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. And worth celebrating! 

Almond Acres Charter Academy and students in PE sweatshirts for volleyball and cross country

Standardized Testing: Our POV

Standardized testing is an important experience. When we prepare to test our AACA students, we spend quality time and energy in our classes sharing about and appreciating the opportunity for California standardized testing. 

Testing results matter and help us plan and grow as a school and as teachers and administrators. As a school leadership team, testing is only one way we define our success and make our plans for next level learning. 

Our team of credentialed teachers uses the Common Core State Standards to teach English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics, while using the State Content Standards for social studies, and the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) for science.  Our AACA teachers also administer state-mandated testing annually in grades 3-8.

Further, our Curriculum Coordinator has established metrics she uses to track every unique learner — and ensure we meet their learning needs. By using our Formation of Learning and Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS), we ably and creatively recognize each AACA student’s academic, behavioral and social-emotional foundation. 

MTSS allows us to balance support levels. For example, some students do their best in a traditional classroom setting, while another child may need to have supports in place to help them focus.  For some students access to flexible seating allows their body to use excess energy.  For another child, it may be having the ability to turn text into speech.

The Science of Gum Chewing

Rooted in both celebration and science, our students can chew gum and enjoy candy on testing days. Our “grading” is a 1-4 system rather than A-F. We infuse joy into this shared testing experience — and we gain valuable details from it, too.  We celebrate every kid’s ability to be tested! This is truly a life skill.  

Almond Acres Charter Academy students with laptop

Individual Student Gains

Testing is only one way we measure student progress. At Almond Acres, we want to track and connect to each student’s individual gains. Testing does not encapsulate all the ways every student is smart.  In fact, our scholastic mission is to help students succeed in life by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. 

This mission is embedded in our academic DNA and informs how we grow together every school day. It truly sets us apart from other K-8 learning environments. We believe an education that addresses all aspects of a child’s life creates balanced, happy learners. And balanced, happy learners deserve joy and fun in their classroom environments — hooray for chewing gum and candy as we celebrate test-taking skills! 

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!

3 Things to Know about Habits of Mind

By teaching kids how they’re smart, we teach them to develop their thinking skills. We call them habits of mind. What are my habits?  What are the things I’m going to get good at, because I’m going to practice? These personal and intellectual character traits are what make us smart, happy, and successful. They are the mental frameworks that all of our knowledge and skill sit upon.

One of our primary focuses at Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA) is teaching kids to think about what’s important, so they’ll act on it. When we act on things that are important, we create habits. When we create habits, it becomes our character. Our character becomes our destiny. For us, it’s all about developing thought processes; developing smart, intelligent, thinking. Thinking triggers action and the cycle begins again —  habits, character, and destiny.

Almond Acres Charter Academy students sitting on the floor in a circle

How we teach Habits of Mind at Almond Acres

  1. We use a variety of tools — thinking tools — to help us teach our kids how to think and develop their thinking skills. The first is terrific. It’s an acronym TRRFC that includes these citizenship traits: Trustworthy, Respectful, Responsible, Fair, and Caring. These citizenship traits involve key principles that grow strong citizens. By thinking in these terms and modeling these behaviors — you are terrific. You’re being a better version of yourself.
  1. We encourage and ascribe to The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This is a very well researched and proven approach to help people become better versions of themselves. The Seven Habits are shared, encouraged and expected in our school on a daily basis.

Our kids grow to know each of the seven habits that also develops into an Almond Acres leadership system. It’s our way for kids to be leaders in their classroom, the school, our community, or at home. 

An Almond Acres alum shared this feedback about their time at our middle school,

“ I enjoyed the amount of one-on-one attention and education I received since the classes were so small. I felt like I could create deeper connections with my peers and teachers. I found it beneficial in my older years to have thoroughly learned the Habits of Mind and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

  1. Leadership gives every human confidence. We expect all of our kids to experience leadership roles whether they stem from an official leadership group or they are a leader in their classroom. Our students glean leadership opportunities every day by being the light monitor, or the person who  opens the door when somebody knocks. Our student leaders might direct a guest or act as an  ambassador to the school and give tours to prospective families.

There are tons of different jobs to promote leadership in every classroom, and we believe there’s a leader in every student. We try to provide every one of our K-8 students with opportunities to be empowered. 

Students that are confident citizens is another way to describe what’s at the core of our school mission — to grow great kids! We holistically celebrate each unique learner  — heart, mind, body and soul. Get to know Almond Acres. We’re enrolling tuition-free K-8 today! 

About Almond Acres

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 inSan 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!