At the heart of our small, intentionally built school is one clear goal: nurture the whole child, heart, mind, body, and soul. The simplicity of our mission makes decision-making easy. We put children at the forefront of our planning for all parts of our day from curriculum to our environment (including our new school building) to how we spend our time together.
Putting our values and priorities first in our lives lets us live the life we wish for. This is true for education and school-settings, too. This paradigm shift — to focusing on the individual and whole child — is needed in public education right now. We want every person to be thinking about each child – how to dignify them – before the academic and assessment goals.
Here are some example of how we grow great kids, according to parents, AACA teachers and other care-giving grown-ups:
“ There are two things that stand out to me about AACA that makes them different from traditional education. First, they emphasize the importance of growing great kids that eventually turn into great citizens. One of the ways they do this is to teach them how to problem solve by finding the next right thing they can do.
Mr B. shared a story with me of a former student who observed her AACA classmates walking away from a fight at the high school. He knew they made that good choice because they had the philosophies of finding the next right thing ingrained in them.
The second thing they do that is different from traditional education is they find how each student is smart and encourages them in that direction. That is an out-of-the-box way to think about education and I know my son will benefit from his teachers working with him in that way.”
“As an educator, I admired AACA’s educational philosophy of teaching the whole child. The staff truly believes that all students can learn and everyone is great at something. They build their curriculum and instruction around each child’s learning modalities as well as providing the rigor and content required for students.
One of the things that sets AACA apart from other public schools is their instruction on the different intelligences: Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. Students, parents and staff get to know the best ways they learn and process information through these 4 intelligences. Students learn to advocate for themselves by knowing how they best learn, teachers and staff can create lessons and activities to challenge students in these areas and push them to learn and develop in other areas.”
“My daughter, who will be in 2nd grade, started kindergarten at AACA after a year of kindergarten at a different school. Because of her genetic disorder, and being nonverbal she was made to feel different than the other students, didn’t connect with the staff or her peers, and developed major behavioral issues. As soon as she started over in kindergarten at AACA, everything changed.
From the first day she stepped on campus she was made to feel a part of the school and her peers. After two years, and two of the most amazing teachers, she has friends, is learning and reading and truly loves school. The dedication, hard work and passion from the general education teachers, special education teacher, her aide and the school as a whole has created an environment that makes her feel included, smart, important and loved.
She walks down the hallway and everyone says hi, students know her by name, not the girl who can’t talk. The idea that everyone is smart in their own way, and that you don’t have to do something one way for it to be right is a key component to AACA’s philosophy, and a reason that everyone in San Luis Obispo County should be honored to have this school within the county.”
“Our youngest son at AACA needs an emphasis on social/emotional learning. AACA strongly emphasizes this learning from the top down. To share a personal example, when our son was struggling to control his emotions and impulses, we met with the administration to create a plan for his success. Right away we learned that he could take a break by flashing ANY staff member the “fist of five”. What does that mean? He can quickly and unobtrusively flash his emotional level on a scale of 1-5 over his heart and that will communicate to EVERY staff member that he needs a break because they are all trained in “fist of five” from the Principal to the Bus Driver!
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.
In short, AACA actively engages each child in their own learning process. AACA imbues a love of learning in their students. They are not just being taught how to succeed in the classroom but how to succeed in life and as members of their community.”
At AACA, we celebrate the differences that make every child unique. We inform our students how to self-identify the ways they learn best. We do not fit kids into molds. Every child is special and valuable. And this paradigm shift — when put into action and lived every day — both at home and at school — transforms how we parent and how we educate.
In public schools today — 1/3 of kids thrive, 1/3 of kids survive, and 1/3 of kids take a dive. The kids who take a dive will find alternatives, so they can thrive. For example, they might go to a trade school. AACA wants to be a place for the kids who are just surviving at public school. These kids could thrive with AACA!
AACA may be a fit for one of your children. Not every child in the family has to attend – some families have kids at multiple schools. We are here for one or all of the kids who want a different way to learn, a new approach. At Almond Acres Charter Academy, we affirm the strengths and struggles of each learner, stretch their knowledge and skills, and celebrate their accomplishments, large and small. 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.
About Almond Acres:
Almond Acres is moving 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!
Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a key component of our instructional program at Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA). We integrate PBL as an articulated curriculum across all subject areas and in all grades.
Our PBL enriches student knowledge by utilizing themes, unit-based queries and a variety of hands-on methods for every age and stage at our K-8 public charter school. Starting with an essential question, our innovative PBL efforts, now led by Carrie Fiel, also enhance community connections via field trips, guest speakers, and our highly rewarding service projects. One such community connection is with Echo Homeless Shelter.
One essential question that informed this partnership was put to our first grade class, “How does knowing about the ABCs help others?” Together, we discussed the ABCs as words and books, and the impact of stories. And who tells stories? Sometimes our friends from Echo Homeless Shelter come to ACCA to share stories.
From there, we arranged for a scavenger hunt of what exists at a homeless shelter — do they have books? Or a TV? The minds of first graders are alive and curious!
Once our students arrived at Echo Homeless Shelter and sourced what did and did not exist there, our students then interviewed the director to find out what else the residents could use. AACA students thought a book drive might help. Instead, what the shelter wanted was for students to come and read to the children residing there. In order to read to the children at the homeless shelter, we needed funds to buy books.
Empathy’s Role in Project-based Learning
Empathetic hearts and holistic views prevailed and the group decision was to sell flowers for Valentine’s Day and use those funds to purchase books for the homeless shelter residents, and enable our AACA students to go and read together. The flowers and supplies were curated by our AACA students, including a field trip to the Dollar Store.
Project-based learning is a dynamic approach to learning. It encourages students to learn by getting hands-on and exploring content in a more interactive way. Our Almond Acres students acquire deeper, more meaningful knowledge by actively exploring real-world situations and challenges and imparting their ideas and wisdom to help solve or create a solution. We grow great kids!
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!
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!
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’ 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!
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.
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)!
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!
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!