Let’s Turnip the Beet!

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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 Maker Faire Spotlights 3rd Generation BBQ Smoker, March 9

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The Learning Center! Charter School is celebrating “making” of all kinds at their 2nd annual School Maker Faire on Thursday, March 9 from 3:30 – 7:30. Imagine a science fair, craft show, tech conference, and county fair, all rolled into one and you can picture a Maker Faire. Over 70 Makers – from Learning Center students to community members – will have booths featuring their own unique Maker project. There will be hands-on activities, demonstrations, a costume parade, and delicious homemade food from “Meal Makers”.

One of these Meal Makers is local Jimmy Nix, who will be offering his signature hardwood-smoked pork. “The smoker has been in my family for three generations,” said Nix. Herbert Nix, Jimmy’s father, adapted the design from his own father’s smoker, and used it for years before passing the rig on to Jimmy.

Each Nix generation has tinkered with the design of the smoker to create the perfect environment for low and slow cooking. This generations-long Maker project is mainly comprised of “up-cycled” materials – objects that have been reclaimed from their original use to create something new. “The main compartment of the smoker is essentially a 500 gallon propane tank,” Nix explained. “Connected to that is a Papa Bear Fisher wood stove for the firebox, and the axle for the wheels is from an old Chevy Vega.”

As with any good barbeque family, the Nix meat rub is also a constantly evolving Maker project. The family recipe spice blend is continually being tweaked in some way with a pinch of this or a touch of that.

“I never cook for a profit,” says Nix. “I prefer to cook at community events where people are just enjoying being together and eating good food.” The Nix family has cooked for many weddings, church events, and most recently, the Cherokee County Faire.

The Learning Center is an official host of the second annual School Maker Faire open to the Murphy area. The event will be held at the school on Thursday, March 9th, from 3:30 – 7:30 pm. Enjoy a delicious plate of hardwood-smoked pork that is three generations in the making. All proceeds from Jimmy’s booth will go to the school’s Odyssey of the Mind teams, who have placed high-enough in regionals to go on to the state-level competition this spring. Contact The Learning Center for more at 828-835-7240.

3rd Grade Tends the Winter Garden

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Third graders have been tending the winter garden at The Learning Center. They have weeded and inspected the lettuce, chard and turnips and are please to see how well everything is doing.

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1st Graders in the Garden

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A few weeks ago, students in first grade spent time preparing the fall garden by planting spinach. Gardening engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn. Gardens are living laboratories and these students were more than happy to get their hands dirty!

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Free Breakfast AND Lunch to ALL Students

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Everyone knows the importance of a good breakfast. Bottom line, students who are “fueled up” with a nutritious meal are increasing the chances that their mental and physical stamina is up to par for a great day at school.

The Learning Center! Charter School joins more than 18,000 schools across the nation with assistance from a federal program called, Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). CEP allows schools in low-income areas to offer breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students while eliminating the traditional school meal application process.

Authorized as a part of Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, CEP eliminates the burden of collecting household applications to determine eligibility for school meal programs and reduces the potential stigma associated with free meals. No household application means less paperwork for parents, and no worries about lunch accounts.

“For the school it means reduced paperwork and administrative costs,” said Susan Blomeley, Nutrition Director at The Learning Center. “There is no need to track unpaid meal charges and more nourished students are ready to learn and grow.”

The Learning Center’s Early Bird Breakfast Club was created in an effort to give every opportunity for all students to eat a healthy breakfast. Since early 2000, The Learning Center! Charter School has offered a Universal Breakfast where all students eat for free. The big news this year is that all students will now get a free lunch in addition to the free breakfast. The school will not take free and reduced applications this year, as all students will eat free.

Why Do Students at TLC Garden?

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Students at TLC aren’t strangers to getting their hands dirty.  Why?  Because gardening engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn.

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Back in May, Pre-K students harvested the sugar snap peas they planted in the terrace gardens. They got to taste them and, although unsure at first, they discovered they were delicious!

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Gardens are living laboratories where our students learn everything from team work to food production and lessons can be taught across the curriculum.

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Before school let out for summer break, these fourth graders helped in the garden by picking off Colorado potato beetles on the potato plants, pulling weeds and pruning our kale trees.

Gardening encourages students to become active participants in the learning process.

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The beautification of our campus is a happy result of hands on learning!

Checking in With the Worm Project in 2nd Grade

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Second graders checked the progress of their worm bin.  IMG_0142

The worms have digested almost all of their bedding and turned it into fertile humus.  IMG_0143

Students bring compostable food scraps from lunch to feed the worms. IMG_0144

This ties in with an Earth Day unit where students have learned ways to reduce waste by composting organic materials.

Stone Ground Grits Part of Early Bird Breakfast Club

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Nutrition Director, Susan Blomeley, is seen proudly displaying House-Autry Stone Ground Grits.

Did you know that TLC specifically sourced whole grain grits to serve at breakfast? House-Autry Stone Ground Grits are made the old fashioned way using granite stones. They grind the whole kernel of corn to retain the natural oils and produce a more flavorful product. TLC Nutrition Director, Susan Blomeley, likes these grits because, “These stone ground grits retain their natural germ and bran, which means they not only taste better, but also retain the antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber usually lost in the refinement process.”

As an added bonus, House-Autry is a North Carolina based company!

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Sow True Seeds Supports TLC Garden

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Sow True Seed, located in Asheville, North Carolina, is a company founded to encompass more than the idea of selling seeds.  They embrace the corporate philosophy of honoring people, planet, as well as profit.  While profit is necessary to sustain the company and help them meet their goals, equally important to them is supporting the people who make up their tiny company while serving their customers by providing open-pollinated seeds of varieties that enrich the biodiversity of available food and pollinator plants.  Sow True Seed also is sure to act as responsible corporate citizens in working to maintain the health of the community and planet.

The Learning Center! Charter School extends a special thank you to Sow True Seed for sharing your open pollinated, heirloom and organic seeds with us. Our greenhouse and gardens will be full as a result.