In celebration of Earth Day back in April, Tony Ward of Hiawasee River Watershed Coalition (HRWC) guided the studets on a walk of Murphy’s Riverwalk and explained the difference in native and non-native species. Students also explored why it is important for plants to grow on riverbanks to prevent erosion as the kids learned that dirt is the number one polluter in our rivers. Students learned about many local trees and shrubs and how they all had different methods of spreading their seeds.
Making nests, drinking white pine tea and building solar ovens was recently the order of the day for fifth grade students at The Learning Center Charter School. That’s because field educators from Muddy Sneakers® took the class on a two day expedition into the outdoors.
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.
Muddy Sneakers Field Instructors, Dana Bradley and Jace Besold, visited the charter school for two days in March. They took students to the Hanging Dog recreation area to learn about energy. They will be back again to teach the 5th graders about both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
Fifth grade science teacher at the school, Jay Ward, said, “The students loved the trip not just because it was fun, but because they were divided into small groups and were really able to focus on what the instructors were teaching. I loved seeing the kids so involved with the activities and enjoying the outdoors. They really did get muddy sneakers!”
This September, Learning Center charter school 6th-8th grade students embarked on a two night, three day camping trip to explore Cherokee history and the great outdoors. While camping in the Deep Creek area, students explored their surroundings in a variety of different ways.
Students enjoyed a horseback ride through a wooded trail and were able to learn about local flora and fauna. They were taught the basics of horseback safety while exploring the incredible biodiversity of our mountains.
While at camp, students hiked, waded in the river, found signs of insect and animal life, inspected plants of all kinds, and tried their hand at fishing. In camp, students were taught leave-no-trace ethics and pitched in to set up camp and maintain a safe, clean, and happy community.
The group ventured out of camp to enjoy a hayride and ride the Smoky Mountain Railroad Steam Train.
While students can learn many things on our campus, we know the world waiting outside offers even more opportunity for rich, engaging, educational experience. Each Fall, students in 6th through 8th grades have the opportunity to go camping as a group. They enjoy the outdoors, learn a little bit about nature, cook on a campfire and share experiences and stories with their classmates in a new setting. This year’s trip promises to be a great one! Make sure your student is signed up before September 15th!
They should have come home with the above form. If not, you can print this one or pick one up in the front office. Your student won’t want to miss it!
This September, Learning Center 6th – 8th grade students embarked on a two night, three day camping trip to explore Cherokee history and the great outdoors. While camping in the Smokemont area of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, students explored the area in a variety of different ways. 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.
The wonderful folks at Smokemont Stables led Learning Center students and staff on a four-mile horseback ride through a wooded trail. Students learned about local flora and fauna from helpful and knowledgeable guides. Students were taught the basics of safely riding horseback while exploring the incredible biodiversity of our mountains.
While at camp, students adventured around the Bradley Fork Creek, hiking, wading, looking for signs of insect and animal life, inspecting plants of all kinds, and learning to fly fish. In camp, students were taught leave-no-trace ethics and pitched in to set up camp and maintain a safe, clean, and happy community.
The group ventured out of camp to explore Cherokee and the many educational opportunities it offers. They toured the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, taking in a fascinating history of the tribe from pre-history to the modern era. Students also perused the Qualla Arts & Crafts Center, seeing a variety of local crafts made by Cherokee artisans. The Cherokee visit culminated in a traditional Cherokee-style meal of bean bread and roasted chicken with the fixings, served at the museum.
Travel is one of many things educators can do to help students grow into well-rounded adults with perspective that extends beyond their own neighborhood. This is why TLC has a robust “Venture Out” program that aims to weave literature, science, history, and art with travel and real life experiences. This cross-curricular travel-study program gives students a broader perspective through new experiences.
The VENTURE OUT program promotes trips to places and people of interest across the Mountain Region of North Carolina. Typical outings may include, but are not limited to the following:
- Cherokee County: Historic downtown Murphy including the trail of historic cemeteries; John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, including resident artist hands-on tour and the Rivercane Wall; a stop at the renowned “Clay’s Corner”; a step back in time at the old country store in the Peachtree community; Walker Inn, Andrews; study of historic area schools.
- Clay County: Finding fairy crosses, visiting the Ogden School as part of a study of historic area schools in the midst of scenic Clay County.
- Graham County: Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, stopping along the way to explore a small portion of the Trail of Tears, Cherohala Skyway, Fontana Dam
- Jackson County: Forensic Studies Field Trip to Western Carolina University
- Macon County: Gem and Mineral Museum of Franklin, Civilian Conservation Corps, Wayah Bald, Nantahala Lake as a source of hydroelectric power, Glen Choga Lodge.
- Swain County: the abandoned sites of Hazel Creek and Proctor; Deep Creek area of Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Additionally, VENTURE OUT works in conjunction with the annual Upper Grades Class Trip opportunities that are offered to Learning Center students on a three-year cycle, covering the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade years of our students. The three year cycle always includes 1) New York City, with in-route stops including Natural Bridge, Hershey Factory, or Gettysburg. 2) North Carolina Coast, with in-route stops in the Piedmont area. 3) Director’s Choice: This choice has included Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans.
Our students start their North Carolina studies in fourth grade. We like to say that we start Venture Out Junior at this point, laying the foundation for combining education with travel, using the world and people around us as a rich, educational resource. Again, a cross-curricular approach is taken to social studies and history, expanding into a STEM to STEAM approach, including rich field work including such sites as Cherokee County Historical Museum, Heritage Park Cherokee Exhibit in Hayesville and the Clay County Museum. Students even venture into northeast GA to better understand the regional ties to a border state such as ours. An annual visit to Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center to experience the “Trees Program” is always a part of 4th grade adventures.
Seen here, students in 6th, 7th and 8th grade traveled to Atlanta in May for a rich city life experience that included CNN World News Headquarters, Center for Puppetry Arts, a fantastic tour of the labs, classrooms and inner workings of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, a performance of Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities, a tour the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University – focusing on the science behind art and artifact restoration, and Buford Highway Farmer’s Market, an incredible international food market featuring foods that many of the group had never seen before.
The 2015-2016 school year also offered 6th-8th graders an opportunity for a three day camping trip to Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Students rode horses, built fire, swam, fished, hiked and worked with Park Rangers on a water quality study of a local creek. Outdoor learning is an integral part of a TLC education and tying it in with a further venture outward into our region taught students much about nature, science, community and self.
Traveling is an investment in education. It allows kids the opportunity to see first-hand the things they have learned and to put into practice the skills they have acquired. They gain a global perspective and a strong independence that no other teaching method can impart. Travel teaches tolerance, self-sufficiency, and resourcefulness. Without travel, students only see the world on a screen or in a book but TLC ensures they get to experience it for themselves.