In honor of Walt Disney’s Birthday back in December, our amazing Kitchen Crew celebrated with our TLC! students in style. The Dining Commons was decked out in Disney decorations and staff proudly donned their Mickey Mouse ears.
The Learning Center Charter School knows that good nutrition is the very foundation for building better students. The school also knows that reducing waste is equally as important for the planet.
For all meals at the charter school, students eat healthy, freshly prepared foods served on real china and silverware. All meals are eaten family style and the school uses as much food from local sources as possible.
Over the years, the school has won numerous awards and recognition by the NC Department of Public Instruction for its dedication to maintaining the highest standards in child nutrition including Award of Excellence, Breakfast Champion Award, as well as the Silver Level Award from USDA HealthierUS School Challenge Program, and the Twentieth Annual “Best Practice Awards” in the categories of National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and Food Distribution Program from the Southeast Regional Office of the USDA.
In addition to the emphasis of healthy eating, Hilary Dixson, Child Nutrition Director at the school, is equally dedicated to the reduction of waste in the school’s food program. This focus includes reducing wasted food as well as wasted resources.
Kitchen staff has reworked recipes to reduce general food waste which include items on the daily salad bar. With the “offer vs. serve” approach, students get to choose items they prefer to eat rather than food being plated and wasted. The school adheres to federal and state guidelines that require some food must be plated regardless of preference.
“We take waste reduction seriously around here,” said Dixson. “For example, our previous use of to-go paper cups has been eliminated to cut back on waste. Reusable water cups and real coffee mugs, in my opinion, change the mood on campus and make school a homier place to be.”
Studies indicate that students who eat breakfast increase their math and reading scores and improve their cognitive speed and memory, according to the Food Research and Action Center. Students who are “fueled up” with a nutritious meal increase the chances that their mental and physical stamina is up to par for a great day at school.
The Learning Center Charter School celebrated National School Breakfast Week March 5th-9th both as a means to recognize the importance of this meal and to increase awareness of the school’s Early Bird Breakfast Club.
The Learning Center’s Early Bird Breakfast Club begins at 7:15am daily. The nutrition staff offers up both hot and cold breakfast options as well as cereal, fruit, yogurt and milk. The program was the first in the state to win the Breakfast Champion Award in 2012. Additionally, the program has received two grants – one from No Kid Hungry North Carolina/Share Our Strength, and another from Action for Healthy Kids School Grants for Healthy Kids.
As part of the week long breakfast celebration, the school marked the birthday of literary giant, Dr. Seuss. Kitchen staff wore Seuss costumes, the Dining Commons was decked out in Seuss colors and decorations and students were served green eggs and ham.
School Child Nutrition Director, Hilary Dixson, said, “Offering well prepared, healthy food that nourishes our young learners is a cornerstone of our educational environment. National School Breakfast Week was a way to teach the importance of eating a nutritious breakfast and the silly costumes and green eggs and ham made it fun and memorable for our students.”
We cultivate healthy students at TLC, and we teach that a huge aspect of health is following a balanced diet. Our incredible nutrition team works hard to provide two delicious and nutritious meals for students everyday. We’ve recently revised our Wellness Policy, so please take time to look it over. Click >>>>HERE<<<< to read the Wellness Policy.
If you’ve strolled through the Dining Commons, you’ve noticed the bulletin board that features ever changing nutritional information for our students and staff. Recently, the board got a winter themed make over with help from students. Interestingly, one student wrote healthy facts on the snowflakes that she had learned from prior bulletin board information. Way to go nutrition staff and students!
Students at The Learning Center Charter School maintain a vegetable garden on campus which has them working in the dirt all school year long. Kindergarten through eighth grade students at the school do everything in the garden from weeding, planting, watering and harvesting fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers.
Gardening and agriculture have always been important at the school. Director, Mary Jo Dyre, believes that gardening engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn. “Gardens are living laboratories where our students learn everything from team work to food production and lessons can be taught across the curriculum,” says Dyre.
In September, students planted turnip seeds as part of their winter garden. In December, students excitedly harvested the turnips and learned that the root and greens are edible. All of these young gardeners were given a hearty serving to take home, while others eagerly ate their turnip raw.
Emily Willey, elementary science and outdoor learning coordinator at the charter school, makes gardening a regular part of the daily routine for students at the school. “Playing an active role in food production teaches young people everything from agriculture to nutrition. These kids love seeing the fruits of their labor and are willing to eat unfamiliar vegetables as a result.”
Murphy – The Learning Center, a tuition-free public charter school, continues to break ground with high-quality offerings in 21st century education. On-going facility improvements – including a newly renovated dining commons – are designed for rich academic opportunities on this “future-ready” campus.
The Learning Center! offers an E-STEAM (Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts/Agriculture, and Math) learning environment. The school’s education philosophy includes the belief that all young learners have the right to experience a broad, rich, and rigorous range of academics during the formative K-8 years. Additionally, the school offers an award-winning nutrition program, daily P.E., unique electives and extra-curricular opportunities. The school’s emphasis on healthy living, community involvement and high academic standards is designed to produce future-ready citizens. This tuition-free public charter school (K-8th) has NO district restrictions and accepts students across all counties.
The Learning Center’s Montessori Blend Kindergarten program has proven to be a strong approach to instruction for even the youngest learners. “We’ve had consistent success with the feeder Montessori Program that is located on our school campus,” said school director, Mary Jo Dyre.
The school’s “Above and Beyond” programs include Compacted Math classes for gifted students, Flexible Grouping in Math, K-4 chorus and a highly developed drama program. The upper grade’s CREW Program, in its second year of operation, promotes character development, goal setting and responsible behaviors.
More extras including National Honor Society, Odyssey of the Mind teams, “Academics and the Arts” artists-in-residency program, “Mini and Middle REAL” young entrepreneur program and Writers Club provide students with the opportunities to become all they can be.
Designated as a “USDA Healthier U.S. School” (Silver Level), The Learning Center! places a strong emphasis on its nutrition and exercise programs. The school also has a free breakfast and lunch program available for ALL students.
The Learning Center! serves approximately 200+ students and is open to both in and out-of-county students. There is no tuition for grades K through 8th. The school also features a Montessori private preschool, serving ages 3-5 years. After School programs are available for all ages. Summer Enrichment Programs such as “Engineering Camp” and Intervention programs are also offered.
Earlier this Spring, these students harvested the beets that they planted as seed in the garden. Ms. Emily took them home and cooked them for the students to eat as well. Growing vegetables is an important way to get young kids interested in where their food comes and try new foods. Way to go students!
School nutrition managers from across the state are participating in the North Carolina K-12 Culinary Institute. Jamie Chapman, from The Learning Center! Charter School participated in a K-12 Culinary Institute regional workshop August 2nd – 4th, 2016 at Cherokee Central Elementary School. The N.C. K-12 Culinary Institute, designed to enhance nutrition offerings, is funded by a U.S. Department of AgricultureProfessional Standards Training Grant received by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) School Nutrition Section.
“The K-12 Culinary Institute is a unique opportunity for school nutrition professionals to enhance culinary skills and glean tools and information critical to their important roles in providing quality, nutritious school meals,” said Susan Blomeley, director for The Learning Center School Nutrition Program.
The face-to-face and virtual institute was developed by the NCDPI, School Nutrition Section, and Chef Cyndie Story’s K-12 Culinary Team, in order to meet five core objectives:
– Improve student health, well-being and academic success through nutritious, appealing meals at school,
– Increase participation in high quality, enticing school nutrition programs,
– Expand capacity of local school nutrition programs to purchase, prepare and serve fresh, locally grown produce,
– Increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grain-rich foods, and
– Provide continuing education opportunities for school nutrition personnel.
North Carolina K-12 Culinary Institute graduates become chef ambassadors prepared to teach other school nutrition professionals at the local level.
The Learning Center has a long history of placing an emphasis on good nutrition as part of its overall mission – growing some of its own food for educational purposes that provide activities that support the E-STEAM curriculum (Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).