Inventive approaches to education here in North County • Paso Robles Press

Connie Pillsbury is a freelance opinion columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email him at

As parents and local school boards bicker over curriculum, masks and mandates, a quiet and profound educational pivot is happening behind the scenes in San Luis Obispo County. “Necessity is the mother of invention” applies here, as exponential numbers of parents are generating new, innovative educational programs outside of the public school system.

A few of the expanding options at the forefront of this change are countywide Heartland Charter School, Almond Acres Charter Academy in Paso Robles, Learn Academy in Atascadero, Christ Classical School, and SLO Classical School. in San Luis Obispo.

Heartland Charter School is an independent, tuition-free public study charter school serving K-12 in nine California counties. The Heartland community is made up of homeschooled families under the guidance and direction of Heartland-accredited teachers. Its unique educational backgrounds make it a popular choice for local parents. Each student has funds that can be applied to various approved local “providers” in the areas of fine arts, music, educational and physical activities. There are over twenty vendors in North County, including horseback riding, swimming, martial arts and dance lessons, as well as sewing, piano, art, guitar and tutoring.

In Paso Robles, the brand new and beautiful Almond Acres Charter School, made possible through the vision and support of its founders and local parents and donors, is open on Niblick Lane for comprehensive classroom learning for students in the kindergarten to 8th grade. Focused on complementary academic education at all grade levels in math, science and technology, leadership and fine arts, Almond Acres’ goal is to “ignite a passion and desire to learn “.

Get through this together, Paso Robles

Project: Learn LLC in Atascadero meets two days a week at the Atascadero Community Church. They provide a rich academic experience for homeschool students, focusing on project-based learning, interdisciplinary classes, field trips, nature study adventures, and more. Project Learn is also a supplier of Heartland Charter School.

Christ Classical School, opened in 2016 on the campus of the former Laureate School, is both a Christian and classical school based on the ‘trivium’ structure, meaning the study of grammar, rhetoric and logic as well as the teaching of Latin. With a rigorous academic program based on a Christian worldview, this option is for parents who want a solid and traditional educational approach.

The San Luis Obispo Classical Academy on Grand Avenue features a hybrid model of part-time classroom learning on campus and part-time at home. With programs ranging from infant and toddler care through high school, the engaging and challenging curriculum takes students through world history at their own level over a period of four school years. Students are on campus two to four days a week and home-schooled by parents under the guidance of the teacher’s curriculum and recommended literature.

Now that you’ve read the story, you can do the math. When you add these five schools to the list of private schools in North County: Children’s House Montessori, North County Christian, Saint Rose, Santa Lucia School, Trinity Lutheran School, and Trivium Charter School in Dove Creek, as well as all independent homeschoolers and homeschool Pods, the number is well into the thousands. Yes, that’s right, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”


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