On September 26-28, Learning Center charter school 6th – 8th grade students embarked on what they wanted to be their annual fall camping trip to explore Great Smoky Mountain National Park. However, they got rained out and came up with alternative ways to explore the park.
Instead of camping as originally planned, students stayed at the bunkhouse at Wildwater Outdoor Center. They visited Occunaluftee Indian Village as well as the Mountain Farm Village.
The group ventured into the town of Cherokee where they had lunch at Newfound Lodge and enjoyed eating a traditional Cherokee meal. Students also stopped at Nantahala Outdoor Center where they played in the Treetop Adventure Playground and waded into the river.
“Camping is an annual event for our 6th-8th graders where our students get to share experiences and stories with their classmates in a new setting,” said Mary Jo Dyre, Executive Director of the school. “Although this year’s weather didn’t allow for camping, our students got to experience our mountain region in brand new ways.”
Dyre added, “At the Learning Center, we believe in hands-on education and there is no better way for our students to learn than to venture out and spark their curiosity.”
Did you know that fourth graders are teamed up with first graders to be their “Big Buddies?”
They are always happy to get to spend time together.
One this particular day, the fourth graders spent time with their buddies in the woods. The older students helped the younger ones construct and improve upon their fairy houses.
On November 2nd, Second Grade took a trip to Hillcrest Apple Orchard in Ellijay, Ga. The children had an opportunity to learn how the orchard plants apple trees and harvests their crops. They also were able to taste fresh apple cider, milk a cow, enjoy a hayride, walk through a fairy tale trail, participate in water duck races, walk through a vortex, shuck corn, visit a petting zoo, and shuck fresh corn. They also visited the apple museum and learned all about the importance of honey bees, the life cycle of an apple tree and learned all about the life of Johnny Appleseed. Before leaving the children were allowed to shop in the orchards store to purchase fresh apple products.
The children had a wonderful time and learned many new things while visiting the orchard.
You might remember that our 5th graders participate in a program called Muddy Sneakers each year. The Muddy Sneakers program exists to enrich the standard course of study through experiential education in an outdoor setting where students connect with the land, become more active, and gain self-confidence while improving science aptitude. Muddy Sneakers began as a pilot program in the spring of 2007 with Brevard and Pisgah Forest Elementary Schools in Transylvania County and has grown each year to now serve 36 schools across 12 counties and 13 school districts in the Carolinas.
As part of their ongoing Muddy Sneakers experience, in November students worked with the field educators to learn all about weather. They used the Scientific Method to measure weather changes between two different points in the day. Throughout the days adventures, students learned about cold fronts, warms fronts, stationary weather fronts. They played weather related games, acted out weather related skits and generally had a blast being out and observing weather first hand.
Back in October, students in first and second grade visited the Mayor of Murphy, Mr. Ramsey. They got to tour his offices and ask all sorts of questions about what a mayor does on a daily basis. Learning about roles within a community are important academic standards for these young students and visiting Mayor Ramsey cemented in their minds the importance of the job. Thank you Mayor Ramsey!
8th Graders are seen with Macon County Historical Museum curator Robert Shook during their Venture Out trip to Franklin, NC in September.
Venture Out is a cross-curricular travel and study program for fourth through eighth grade students at the school. It weaves literature, science, history and art with travel and real life experiences. The Venture Out program promotes trips to places and people of interest across the mountain region. The annual upper grades class trip branches out to include travel destinations such as New York City, Coastal NC, Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans and Atlanta.
Students in eighth grade experience a robust Venture Out travel schedule that began with the trip to Franklin in September. Students toured the Macon County Historical Museum that is housed in a 1904 building in the town center. They enjoyed a guided tour with special emphasis on Franklin’s unique Civil War history. Students also visited a gem and mineral museum housed in the old Franklin city jail. They enjoyed viewing the expansive mineral, gem and fossil collection housed there.
On October 9th, these students traveled to Rabun County, Georgia and explored the Foxtire Museum and Appalachian Heritage Center. They enjoyed the demonstrations from craftspeople, hands-on activities and learned how people have lived in our mountains for centuries.
Julie Johnson, Expedentiary Learning Coordinator at our school, said, “Our goal at The Learning Center is to create life-long learners who know that there is always something to learn from the world around them.”
The Venture Out activities are chosen to closely align with what students study in the classroom. Venture Out is not a day out of school – it’s a day where school happens off campus.
Johnson added, “Through travel and exploration, we are making our great community our classroom.”
Fifth graders have begun participating in The Muddy Sneakers program and will have several excursions throughout the school year. The Muddy Sneakers program exists to enrich the standard course of study through experiential education in an outdoor setting where students connect with the land, become more active, and gain self-confidence while improving science aptitude. Muddy Sneakers began as a pilot program in the spring of 2007 with Brevard and Pisgah Forest Elementary Schools in Transylvania County and has grown each year to now serve 36 schools across 12 counties and 13 school districts in the Carolinas. Be sure to scroll down and read Part I in of series of 5th Grade and Muddy Sneakers in the previous post.
The second Muddy Sneakers excursion had the students trekking to Fires Creek to learn about Aquatic Ecosystems. The class was divided into two groups and Muddy Sneakers leaders Kiersten and Alex each took a group to the river to check the water quality.
The students had fun hiking their way through the trails to reach the water destination. Once there the instructors took out the collecting materials and explained to the students how to collect animal specimens without hurting them. Each student was partnered up. One of the partners went into the water first with a bucket, small fish net, and a small paint brush sponge. The other student stayed on the bank to separate the different species into separate containers.
Afterwards, the class came back together to discuss what they found. Depending on what kinds of micro-invertebrate species they had found, they could determine if the water was healthy or polluted. Students were pleased to discover that the water was good quality.
Then, students hiked up to the waterfall and we discussed what they had learned from this expedition.
For the second year in a row, fifth graders at our school are participating in Muddy Sneakers. The Muddy Sneakers program exists to enrich the standard course of study through experiential education in an outdoor setting where students connect with the land, become more active, and gain self-confidence while improving science aptitude. Muddy Sneakers began as a pilot program in the spring of 2007 with Brevard and Pisgah Forest Elementary Schools in Transylvania County and has grown each year to now serve 36 schools across 12 counties and 13 school districts in the Carolinas.
Students had their first excursion to learn the rules and procedures during these field work expeditions. Students learned things like how to identify poison ivy, what to do if they see a snake in the woods, how to use compasses and magnifying glasses, and how to behave around stinging insects.
This first day was spent walking the trails in our own Outdoor Learning Center. During the lessons and hikes, students found some really cool fungus and discussed it as the group. They found Cobalt Crust, Stinkhorn Mushrooms, and a blanket of white fluff on a tree branch that they identified as Beech Blight Aphids (Grylloprociphilus imbricator), a species that lives off the sap of beech trees.
The students really are excited to learn more on future Muddy Sneakers expeditions!
First graders have been learning all about plants and what they need to survive. They have experimented with germinating radish seeds which created much excitement! They even transplanted their radish sprouts into the garden for a future fall harvest.
On August 24, 2018, the entire middle school student body of The Learning Center Charter School traveled to Pacesetters Adventures for a day of experiential learning, team building and confidence boosting.
The Learning Center’s middle school students are divided into six multi-grade CREW groups. Each CREW meets several times a week throughout the school year and are designed to build relationships and a sense of community. CREW allows students to have a safe place with peers to share both triumphs and defeats. CREW encourages peer facilitation wherein students take active leadership roles and teachers serve as moderators rather than leaders of the groups.
Pacesetters Adventures is a 44 acre campus located along the Valley River in Andrews, NC. The facility has a 60 foot climbing tower as part of its Adventure Course as well as a giant swing, a 200 yard driving range, putting green, multipurpose building, as well as fishing, camping and assorted gear for use on any sort of adventure.
While student CREWS were at Pacesetters Adventures, they worked on games that required teamwork and good communication to complete. Simple items like 2×4 lumber, ropes and tarps made for excellent challenge builders and provided the students hours of fun.
Charter school teacher, Jess Stephens said, “Our CREW concept is based on the idea that we are all in the same boat. We work together like a crew of a ship.” She added, “The staff at Pacesetters Adventures not only provided a great adventure for our middle school students, but also the basis to work like the crews we set out to be.”