In May, third grade students visited the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center. They learned about tree identification. When they returned to school, they teamed up with Ms. Emily and began identifying trees in The Outdoor Learning Center. Students identified many varieties including Peach, Sassafras, Sycamore, Oak and Poplar trees.
Teachers use community resources like the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center to show students real life applications of things they learn in the classroom. Of course a student can learn about a tree from a book, but it’s not until they are in the woods learning about leaves, bark, flowers and seeds that they make the deep connections that lead to life long learning. Community partnerships are an integral piece of your child’s education at The Learning Center!
Local landscaper/gardener Tim Ryan from Brasstown makes a hearty donation of tools to help the miniature gardeners at The Learning Center. We thank Mr. Ryan for helping the next generation of stewards get hands on experience in the garden and out in the forests.
Before school let out for summer, students in first and third grades collaborated to construct fairy houses in the woods. Students found once they built a house they got other inhabitants such as ants, spiders and grasshoppers!
Back in March, Ashevile based artist, Jeff Menzer, visited The Learning Center to plan projects he and students will be implementing on campus this spring. Mr. Menzer specializes in creating “Re-Art” Sculpture, figurative sculpture, and environmental installations using found objects and industrial discards. This spring he will work with our students to turn discarded trampoline parts into art pieces that will become part of The Outdoor Learning Center.
This large scale art piece project serves to involve students in the design process, involve students in collaborative problem solving of environmental issues through the creative process, and to complete two art sculptures, one a shelter and one large bug, that will be permanently installed on campus.
The Learning Center! Charter School has a long history of dedication to good nutrition and garden-based learning. The school’s garden program, which includes a terraced garden and greenhouse, got a boost from an Asheville-based seed company. On November 29th, Sow True Seed opened its doors to schools with garden projects to shop for 50 seed packets at no charge. According to Sow True Seed’s website, their intention is to support growers of the future. “The growers of the future are our future. By seeding young minds with excitement and enthusiasm for a greener world, we can grow a better world.”
The Learning Center nutrition director, Susan Blomeley traveled to Asheville, equipped with a wish list for spring and fall greens, a variety of squashes, pumpkins, and gourds, as well as summer flowers to support pollinators. Science teacher, Emily Willey who coordinates the school’s Outdoor Learning program, works closely with students throughout the year planning and cultivating the gardens and greenhouse.
Founded in 2008 by lifelong gardener and food activist Carol Koury, Sow True Seed provides open-pollinated, heirloom and organic vegetable, herb, and flower seeds to enthusiastic home gardeners and small market farmers.
Sow True Seed is working with Growing Minds Farm to School program to encourage more school gardens to flourish. Growing Minds is a program of Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP). “The School Seed Giveaway is a fantastic event for teachers and school garden coordinators to not only get resources for their school gardens, but also to connect with a wonderful community partner and school garden supporter, Sow True Seed,” says Jessica Sparks-Mussulin, Growing Minds Program Coordinator.
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.
Our students were also able to take in the history of the pioneer settlers that lived in the area that became the National Park. The Ocunaluftee Visitors Center features a variety of structures that exemplify the types of humble homesteads that dotted these mountains. From the blacksmith shop, to the pig pens, to the dove-tailed log cabins, Leanring Center students got a slice of local history first-hand.
Learning Center students take a camping trip at least once a year. We know that the great outdoors is a great learning experience and we love to see our students get excited about exploring the world around them. Find out more at www.naturallygrownkids.org/what-makes-us-different.
Students in first grade have taken advantage of the wonderful Fall weather by getting outside every chance they can. They have explored every nook and cranny of The Outdoor Learning Center. Here they are seen spending time writing about nature while experiencing it first hand.