Following the great success Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA) experienced with its recent distance learning program, the school is excited to announce that it will be enrolling students in a new At Home Academy program beginning in the Fall of 2020. Being a small school allows AACA to respond to changes in the needs of their families with swiftness and AACA’s distance learning program demonstrated a strength in designing education that truly is outside the box of traditional school programs.
AACA has been providing a site based instructional program since the school began in 2012. When COVID-19 forced districts across the state to close their doors and transition to a distance learning model, AACA recognized an opportunity to expand its program offerings. When survey results reported 95% of families felt the distance learning program exceeded or greatly exceeded expectations, the AACA team felt confident in once again implementing a programmatic change.
During the distance learning program, parents were surveyed several times to gauge their feelings on the possibility of a at home option moving forward. Multiple families reported they were interested in exploring an at home option and their reasons were varied. Some expressed a long term desire to do distance learning but they were reluctant to forego the school culture and climate offered at AACA. Other families shared concerns about possible restrictions in the form of health and safety guidelines that may be in place when schools reopen. The administration examined multiple options for an at home program and created the Almond Acres At Home Academy.
The AACA At Home program will consist of instruction happening in the home while families maintain the close family/school connection that is special to AACA. Parents will be provided with comprehensive curriculum guides, training opportunities, and regular school collaboration to provide the primary instruction. Parents will also have the opportunity to participate in the Program Site Council (AACA’s equivalent to a PTO/PTA) and attend AACA’s Growing Great Kids webinars where they will learn strategies to assist with a variety of parenting scenarios.
Students in the At Home Academy will not only be using the same curriculum as their peers in the traditional model, they will also be given self directed versions of the various Service and Project Based Learning units that are a core component to AACA’s academic program. Additionally, students will be encouraged to participate in the many field trips and guest speaker presentations connected to those units.
All of the school-wide activities offered at AACA will include the families enrolled in the At Home program. Some of these include annual events such as Maker Faire, musical theatre production, 8th grade promotion, Kinder Celebration, Read Run Relay, and talent show. The families will also access a daily virtual Shared Start assembly where they will receive instruction on the Habits of Mind, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and the positive behavior expectations that grow citizenship traits in all AACA students. Families will also be encouraged to attend the new Friday celebration events (awards assemblies, positive behavior reinforcer events, etc) being held twice monthly. AACA has successfully held several of these events virtually during distance learning and will continue to do so if required by safety guidelines.
In addition to these program components, families would be encouraged to participate in outside of school events. AACA hosts a Meet the Teacher Picnic before school starts and the At Home families will be introduced to the various grade level teachers, support staff, as well other AACA families. Back to School Night, Open House, and the annual Art Show will also include these families and showcase student work completed as part of the At Home Academy curriculum.
“As a small charter school, we have the ability to quickly respond and affect change. This At Home Academy will allow families to be part of our school, implement the framework and philosophy, receive guidance from staff, and still have flexibility based on their individual needs. We are able to use much of what we created and implemented during distance learning to then create this additional option.” stated Amy Baker, Program Director.
Almond Acres Charter Academy is designing this At Home program to meet the needs of its current families and any future families. If anyone is interested in exploring the At Home program now available through AACA, information can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Since AACA is a charter school, and therefore a school of choice, no interdistrict transfer is required to enroll.