–Almond Acres Charter Academy, a tuition-free K-8 charter school, is currently offering open enrollment through March 15 as the school undergoes construction of its new 32,000 square foot facility, located at 1145 Niblick Road in Paso Robles, at the site of a former church facility.
Almond Acres has been teaching students in San Luis Obispo County at its original San Miguel location since 2012. The school will mark its 10-year anniversary this fall at its new Paso Robles location.
The new school is being built with an emphasis on “functionality to support Almond Acres’ educational model of educating the whole child,” a news release from the school says. In conceptualizing the design of the new school space, Bob Bourgault, director of Almond Acres, referenced studies showing that academic achievement thrives when teachers collaborate.
“We are extremely motivated to provide a learning environment that incites in our students a passion and desire to learn, and empowers them to be the very best version of themselves,” said Bourgault. “We are confident that our new school will provide the perfect venue for nurturing project-based learning, service learning, and meaningful educational experiences. These are the keys to unlocking outstanding learning and student success.”
The physical focus of the school building “emphasizes dynamic space usage to support teacher collaboration.” The design of the school’s classrooms will allow teachers to freely access classrooms, from one to the other, and interspersed group meeting rooms will allow up to four teachers to easily collaborate ad hoc or in scheduled meetings.
Special education services will also be seamless in the new building. This will result in special education students spending less time away from core class environments, eliminating any stigma with leaving class.
Almond Acres’ new internal courtyard opens skyward and includes fountains and natural elements. The multipurpose room serves varied needs, including a gymnasium for athletics and an internal collapsible wall allowing both spaces (the gym and central courtyard) to hold 500-800 people for events. Surrounding the gym is an atrium and hallway to buffer sound. Designing the gym to be inside the core of the building will also keep all K-8 children safe.
The intentional design layout for Almond Acres’ classrooms and where they are located within the school aligns with grade level and developmental milestones. The kindergarten and first grade classrooms are the largest, allowing plenty of room for young children to move. Classrooms for grades 2-3 and 4-5 will be located side-by-side, respectively, with shared collapsible classroom walls to integrate subject areas and share teacher expertise and passions.
Almond Acres’ middle school is housed in two wings at the front of the new school building. One wing will focus on the humanities – language arts and social sciences – and will include a college library-inspired space. The other middle school wing is for STEM and STEAM classes (science and art) and includes a creativity lab.
Outside of the school structure, the Almond Acres playground is lower than building-level which creates a natural amphitheater. The fields are completely ADA compatible and boast access on all sides. The entire school is circled by a drop off lane for easy pickup and drop off; though external classroom doors can only be opened from the inside. This design video showcases Almond Acres’ design, and this video provided by DLW Architects also illustrates the perimeter of the building along with outdoor spaces within the structure.
“It’s so exciting, and symbolic, that the groundbreaking and construction of our new school coincides with our open enrollment period,” said Ed Surber, Almond Acres board member. “The buzz and excitement is palpable and seeing the surge of interest in Almond Acres is proof that we are doing what’s right for our community. If anyone is considering joining the Almond Acres family, now is the best time!”
“At Almond Acres Charter Academy, student learning informs everything we do,” added Bourgault. “We even toured the nearby Allegretto Hotel with our 8th graders for inspiration on how to incorporate art into our building. They’re tasked with creating and designing our entry atrium welcoming one and all to our 21st century school designed with student learning front of mind.”
For more about Almond Acres Charter Academy and the new building in Paso Robles, opening for the 2021-2022 school year, call (805) 467-2095.