National Bike or Walk to School Day

May 8th was National Bike to School Day.  Communities across the country celebrated the day and took the time to focus on health and safety.

Our students have been participating in a year long walking program that started in conjunction with the National Center for Safe Routes to School as part of the National Walk to School Day held in October.

Established in May 2006, the National Center for Safe Routes to School, part of the University of North Carolina (UNC) Highway Safety Research Center, helps support communities in changing their culture to support safe and active travel. The National Center’s work uses research-based evidence to highlight what works and why, and translates this research into education, professional development tools and training to provide communities the technical support they need to make community-enhancing decisions. As the coordinating organization for Walk to School Day held every October and Bike to School Day held each May, the National Center provides technical support; coordinates online registration, develops resources, and facilitates worldwide promotion and participation. The UNC Highway Safety Research Center has served as the coordinator of Walk to School Day since the event’s U.S. inception in 1997.

In addition to their regular morning walk, TLC students celebrated by picking up trash and debris around campus. Plus, students made signs encouraging both walking and safety.

Daily Walking Program

Students at The Learning Center Charter School have been walking their way to fitness this school year as part of a program from the National Center for Safe Routes to School.

The National Center for Safe Routes to School is the coordinating organization for Walk to School Day held every October and Bike to School Day held each May. These events are used to encourage families to celebrate the benefits of walking and biking and to increase local leader commitment and visibility for traffic safety and community quality of life.

However, staff at the charter school opted to take this program farther than just a one day event each semester. Instead, they instituted a daily walking program for all students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

School physical education coordinator, Cheryl Catuto, explained that they decided to create the walking program for several reasons. “We want to promote a healthy and active lifestyle for students, staff and parents,” said Catuto.  She added that starting each day with exercise is a great way to stimulate the brain and get it prepared to learn during school.  Also, by offering incentives to participate in the morning walk, the school has seen a reduction in the number of students arriving tardy to class each day.

Each morning students walk. If the weather is good, students walk a safe path on campus. If it is raining or below 35 degrees, students complete their walk in the Gymnatorium.

Sean Bain, physical education assistant, keeps statistics on the number of walkers and the percentage of each class that is walking each day.  He uses these stats to not only encourage participation but also to help the staff best determine what incentives to provide for the students.  Bain says that they have about 100 walkers every day.

Free Breakfast AND Lunch to ALL Students

unnamed

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?

IMG_0219

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.

IMG_0222
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!

IMG_0213

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

IMG_0214
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.

IMG_0215

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

Stone Ground Grits Part of Early Bird Breakfast Club

20160119_150903
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!

DSC_0792

Preschoolers in the Garden

IMG_20160126_101926_011

Preschool students have been exploring the great outdoors by playing in the garden at TLC!  Students went to explore the feel of garden dirt and see what kind of plants grow in cool weather in the garden.  Students became acquainted with kale and collard greens, and learned that vegetables get their vitamins from the soil.  They also learned that eating fruits and vegetables give us those same vitamins that help us grow big and strong.

IMG_20160126_102012_237

Charter School Wins Prestigious USDA Award for Nutrition Program

IMG_2543The Learning Center! Charter School has a long history of dedication to good nutrition and believes it is the very foundation for building better students. With that high priority and commitment, it’s no surprise the school has won multiple awards over the years. The latest was an impressive “Silver Level Award” banner and plaque presented to the school on May 3rd by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as part of their “HealthierUS School Challenge” Program. The distinction also includes a $1000 cash award. The Learning Center is the only charter school in North Carolina to earn this prestigious recognition to date.

In February, the school received a congratulatory letter from First Lady, Michelle Obama for the recognition. The HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms (HUSSC: SL) is a certification initiative that recognizes schools for their efforts to create healthier school environments through promotion of nutrition and physical activity. Some of these efforts include improving food and beverage offerings, teaching kids about nutritious food choices, providing opportunities for physical activity, and having supportive school wellness policies. The HealthierUS School Challenge program supports Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign by recognizing schools that are creating healthier school environments through these activities.

To qualify for the award, nutrition director, Susan Blomeley worked with nutrition education coordinator, Debby Intemann and curriculum coordinator, Cheryl Catuto to submit a formal application and document criteria set forth by the USDA Food and Nutrition Services. The program’s criteria reflects the recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published recommendations (April 2007) for foods that should be served outside of the organized school meals program. The HealthierUS Schools Program must meet additional criteria demonstrating its commitment to a healthy school environment, as well as implement a local school wellness policy, as mandated by Congress. Schools receiving The HealthierUS Schools award commit to meeting the criteria throughout their four-year certification period.

The Learning Center, designated an “A+ Fit School” in 2010 by The North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund, adds this award to numerous others over the past five years. These include recognition and awards by the USDA and the NC Dept. of Public Instruction for its dedication to maintaining the highest standards in child nutrition.

USDA Silver Award

IMG_2543In December 2014, our school was awarded the Silver Award from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as part of their HealthierUS School Challenge.  The Learning Center Charter School is the only charter school in North Carolina to earn this prestigious recognition to date.

The HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms (HUSSC: SL) is a certification initiative that recognizes schools for their efforts in improving food and beverage offerings, teaching kids about nutritious food choices and being physically active, providing opportunities for physical activity, and having supportive school wellness policies. It supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign by recognizing schools that are creating healthier school environments through their promotion of good nutrition and physical activity.  Sponsored by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the initiative encourages all schools take a leadership role in helping students to make healthier eating and physical activity choices that will last a lifetime.

To qualify for an award, a school must submit a formal application and meet basic criteria set forth by the USDA Food and Nutrition Services.  The HUSSC criteria reflect the recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published recommendations (April 2007) for foods that should be served outside of the organized school meals program.  HealthierUS Schools must meet additional criteria demonstrating its commitment to a healthy school environment, as well as implement a local school wellness policy, as mandated by Congress.  Schools receiving a HUSSC award commit to meeting the criteria throughout their four year certification period.

Congratulations TLC!