Stringed Instruments at TLC!

Students in our stringed instrument program are learning far more than just how to play great music.  Studies show that learning a string instrument at an early age impacts brain development!


These students also learn to relate music to other things such as science and math.  Plus they develop coordination and fine motor skills.  Not to mention important social skills, group coordination, self-discipline and self-initiative.

Instructor Dr. Vern Richardson

TLC! is incredibly lucky to have Dr. Richardson as our dedicated instructor.

Dr. Vernal E. Richardson’s career as a teacher and professional musician spans nearly 50 years. After graduating from Indiana University in 1956, Dr. Richardson received a position in the First Violin Section with the Atlanta Symphony for one season before entering pilot training with the US Air Force. He served as pilot of a B-47 jet bomber from 1956-59. Dr. Richardson then returned to Indiana University, where he received a M. M. in Violin and Conducting.

From 1959 to 1989 Richardson filled the role as Assistant/Associate Professor at various colleges and universities and as Orchestra Director at two high schools. He frequently served as adjudicator in festivals and as conductor of community and all-state string orchestras. He received his D. M. A. from Catholic University of America in 1977. Additionally, he performed as violinist in approximately 2000 commercial recordings, many of which received gold records for sales in excess of one million.

Dr. Richardson came to Atlanta Public Schools in 1989. He was selected Teacher of the Year at E. R. Carter Elementary in 1993 and has had a number of performances and residencies at Emory University. He has directed the orchestra programs at Inman Middle and Grady High Schools for the past four years. Under his direction the orchestras at both schools have regularly received Superior ratings at festival, and several of his students have been selected for All-State Orchestra positions.

Mighty impressive Dr. Richardson!


My favorite part has got to be walking into the Dining Commons during practice.  The tiny violins are precious.  Even better is the beautiful music coming out of them!

8th Grade Visits Hazel Creek and Proctor, NC

Hazel Creek, located on the North Shore of Fontana Lake, is one of the most remote areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  It was the location of many thriving communities until the Tennessee Valley Authority forced the residents to leave their homes to make way for the Fontana reservoir in 1943.  Although the TVA never used this 44,000 acres of Swain County as part of the Fontana project, they did not offer to return it to the original owners.  Instead they gave it to the National Park Service and it became the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

TLC! 8th graders visited the Hazel Creek area as part of their Venture Out Program.  North Carolina curriculum requires 8th grade students to study our state history and our school’s Venture Out Program couples the study of North Carolina history with travel and real life experiences.

Proctor is a former town located on Hazel Creek named after the first white settler to the area.  Not only do these students get to learn this history but they get to see and touch actual artifacts as well.

I look forward to seeing this nearly inaccessible area when my children are in 8th grade!


7th Grade Travels to Study Lichen

7th grade classroom for a day!

There are many species of algae and fungi, but when certain species of fungi join with certain species of algae in a symbiotic relationship, they become a unique organism called lichen.


Our 7th graders had the unique opportunity through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park Service to participate in the Lichen Program.

Lichens are used as bioindicators of poor air quality. Monitoring lichen composition is important in order to detect the loss of biodiversity as pollution intolerant species die and are replaced by more tolerant species.



During this study students observed and identified the growth forms of the lichens on assigned trees and determined the percentage of coverage of each form.

TLC! 7th graders were incredibly fortunate to spend a day in this diverse outdoor classroom.

Pinwheels for Prevention


April is National Prevent Child Abuse month.  Prevent Child Abuse America has launched a campaign called Pinwheels for Prevention to promote awareness about child abuse prevention.  The pinwheel represents their efforts to change the way our nation thinks about prevention, focusing on community activities and public policies that prioritize prevention right from the start to make sure child abuse and neglect never occur.


On April 1, 2011 TLC! students participated in the Cherokee County Pinwheels for Prevention ceremony.  Our school, along with other community organizations, met on the courthouse steps and then walked to the Hiwassee Valley Pool and Wellness Center and planted pinwheels.

Students remaining on campus even planted pinwheels on the front lawn.  They made the pinwheels with Ms. Carrie in art class and then “planted” them on the front lawn.


8th Grade Visits Forensics Lab at WCU

Eighth grade students at The Learning Center! Charter School recently traveled to Western Carolina University’s Forensic Lab as part their Venture Out Program. They met with undergraduate, graduate and doctorate students in the WCU forensics department to learn about how forensics is used in solving crimes, learning about history and anthropology. They toured the lab and saw fascinating DNA extraction equipment. These eighth graders explored the processes of taking a small piece of bone or tooth and determining the DNA sequence of the animal or person that it came from.

Ms. Emily, 8th grade science teacher at The Learning Center! Charter School said, “These students learned about the art of dusting for fingerprints, lifting the prints and analyzing them. We even got to set up a mock crime scene that required us to analyze mystery fingerprints.”

The Venture Out Program offered to all eighth graders at the charter school focuses on exposing students to a cross-curricular, in-the-field study of our state. Over the course of the school year the eighth grade class tours many areas of the mountain region of North Carolina and spends time learning about and touring the Piedmont and Coastal regions through the Upper-Grades Class Trip offerings.

Charter School Parade of Innovation


Individual charter school exhibits at the first annual Charter School Parade of Innovation.

On March 24, 2011 The Learning Center! presented at the First Annual Charter School Parade of Innovation at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, NC.  At the Symposium, charter schools demonstrated “Chartering the Road to Success” as they exhibited successful innovative strategies and paraded student achievement.  The Learning Center! was one of eight schools invited to participate.


The TLC! exhibit.


Below are the slide shows that were running on each of the laptops.

The Learning Center! Charter School was proud to participate and show off our award winning physical fitness and nutrition programs. Among distinguished speakers, other school exhibits, student talent and the amazing science museum, The Learning Center! was a shining star.