Project Creek Bank

This past Saturday was a workday on Project Creek Bank at The Learning Center.

Project Creek Bank is a combined effort to rid the creek that flows by our school of invasive plants while leaving the natives to thrive and protect the creek bank. Tony Ward, with Hiwassee Rivershed Coalition, brought several helpers and joined with Learning Center staff and parents to make this a productive day.

Progress was made and much was learned about both invasive and native plants.

Thank you Tony and volunteers!

Community of Learners

Here at The Learning Center! Charter School we often refer to ourselves as a Community of Learners. If you listen to enough of our conversations you will begin to recognize that many of the adults that make up our school population are prime examples of being “learners for life.” One of the examples that comes to mind first is our Ms. Nancy: classroom assistant, Community Involvement Coordinator, sometime fundraiser, in general, the person who keeps us all informed about any and all seasonal celebrations and historical events. I often describe her as the equivalent of a full wing of the library when it comes to knowledge that she has gained through travel. Impressed as I am with her travels, more importantly Ms. Nancy has recognized the importance of instilling in her granddaughter an awareness of the world and the endless ideas that can be learned by crossing geographical boundaries. In short, Ms. Nancy’s example was my inspiration to provide travel experiences to our students. Several events of the past few weeks have heightened my awareness of the “Ms. Nancy personalities “of our campus that provide an endless sense of possibility and richness of experience:

Monster Mash is an annual event here on our campus that takes place the two Saturdays prior to Halloween. It seems to have a life of its own, growing, becoming, and most importantly bringing together a creative community that begins planning for the next year sometimes as soon as the morning after . The majority of the key people behind this event are already starting many of their sentences with “Next year, we could….” I love that I have a second grade student that never fails to ask me in November if I have a plan for the next Mash and to let me know that he has a few ideas if I need some. What an inspiration it was today to receive an email from one of the high school volunteers that helped with the acting in the Maze. She was so enthusiastic as to suggest that we do a Christmas event of some sort and that she would be more than willing to help out. It is my hope that Monster Mash continues to bring out creative learning in this community for years to come.

As part of their Venture Out Program, a cross-curricular study that extends the classroom into a variety of mountain locations, our 8th graders, some staff and several interested adults from the community headed out this past Friday for our annual trek to Hazel Creek, the site of one of many displaced communities that exists as a result of TVA dams being built. Although an early snow stopped us just outside of Topton, our “learning spirit” just could not be stopped. In the course of trying to make the decision as to whether we could possibly go on to Robbinsville and cross Fontana Lake on a pontoon, we had the privilege of talking to the aunt of one of our students whose mother was a Hazel Creek resident. A parent, Nanette Davidson, shared stories that her husband knew of the history of the TVA dams. We headed back to Murphy with plans to go to Hazel Creek in the spring. As Tipper Pressley pointed out, “That will give us a chance to see all the spring flowers that the Hazel Creek folk planted so long ago, especially the hardy daffodils.” Ms. Christy, writing and literature, was busy planning interviews with Hazel Creek folk and how community people could be used to enrich student learning in folklore and journalism skills. I also found myself thinking of other ways we could bring the “Hazel Creek history” to life for our students. What a productive learning experience and we never even made it past the turn to Robbinsville!

As a Community of Learners we create many rich opportunities for learning. Saturday morning brought another such opportunity in the form of an “adults only” workday on Project Creek Bank, an effort to rid the creek that flows by our school of invasive plants while leaving the natives to thrive and protect the creek bank. Tony Ward, with Hiwassee Rivershed Coalition, brought several helpers and joined with Learning Center staff and parents to make this a productive learning work experience. We spent a great deal of conversation time as we worked learning from Tony about the many plants that grow in this area. However, our conversation also turned to other topics including the postponed trip to Hazel Creek the day before since a couple of the workers had also gone on that trip. As it turned out, one of the Creek Bank parent volunteers is a Proctor descendant, with stories to tell of family members that once lived in the neighboring, displaced community next to Hazel Creek.

In conclusion, learning is contagious. It thrives on our campus. The examples are endless, from Odyssey of Mind volunteers and participants, to four more string scholarships made available recently, and so many more. I cannot imagine a day without learning. If you are not involved in a Community of Learners, I suggest you give it a try.

A Big Thank You

As director of The Learning Center! Charter School, I would like to thank all the parents, grandparents, teachers and community volunteers who helped make our “Alice in Underland” Halloween event such a huge success. This is our seventh year providing a safe, all-ages, community-wide Halloween event. We had people attending from all over the tri-state area including Florida!

On our two event nights, many comments were made about the incredible costumes, make-up, set detail inside the maze, and the amount of creativity that was evident in the volunteer work behind the event.

We thank the high school students and community members who played roles in the maze. Tri-County Early College High School, Murphy and Andrews High School students volunteered time for acting, make-up and sets. All these students will receive community service hours for their involvement.

We appreciate and thank community members and business supporters. An event of this magnitude would not be possible without them.

We want to recognize our main event Gold Level sponsors: Sounds Good Electronics, Macon Bank and George’s Butcher Shop. Our Silver Level sponsors were Dr. Conner & Dr. Hayes, MMC and Ground to Graphics. Bronze Level sponsors were Studley Chiropractic, Party Outlet and Farley Insurance.

Thanks to our community supporters and volunteers:
Board Members and Staff of The Learning Center!

Costume judges Mary Ricketson, Becky Barton and Doc Richard Knee

Dickey Supply

Equine Second Chance

Joe Fowler

Tim Noland

Tri County Early College, Murphy and Andrews high school students

Wayne Roshaven and BJ McFalls

And to those who gave anonymously so students could participate in the fun during these tough economic times.

Physical Fitness Achievements & the Golden Dumb Bell Award

We are proud of our physical fitness achievements here at The Learning Center!  and find ways to honor and celebrate high achievers.  New this year is the Golden Dumb Bell Award.  Be sure to watch the video below to find out what it is!

2009-2010 National Physical Fitness Award winners

2009-2010 Presidential Physical Fitness Award Winners

The Golden Dumb Bell

The 4th grade class wins the Golden Dumb Bell Award for 1st quarter 2010

Junior Beta Club Participates in Local Service Project

The mission of the National Junior Beta Club is to promote the ideals of academic achievement, character, service and leadership among elementary and secondary school students.  Recently, The Learning Center! Junior Beta Club members participated in two local service projects – Holy Smoke and Crop Walk.

Holy Smoke is an area event aimed at raising money to help fund the building of homes for people who need them.  Crop Hunger Walk is a community-wide event organized by local congregations to raise funds to end hunger at home and around the world.

TLC! Junior Beta Club members participate in these events each year.  Not only does doing so teach these students about important social issues, but it also shows how one person can make a difference in a positive way.

Way to go Junior Beta Club!

WNC Healthy Kids Conference

(Ms. Debby, our Child Nutrition Program Manager/ Nutrition Education and Wellness Team Leader here at TLC! is serious about nutrition, educating our kids about healthy eating and about teaching parents and our community about it too.  Today is a guest post from Ms. Debby and what she learned at a recent conference here in western North Carolina.  Take it away Ms. Debby!)

I recently had the privilege of attending a regional conference on child nutrition and health in Asheville. The theme of the conference was “Communities Working Together” and the idea was to bring together concerned professionals from various disciplines to discuss solutions to the current health problems facing children in our area.  What I learned was both frightening and encouraging.

“Frightening” because our area, along with the rest of the country, is facing a true epidemic of obesity that is now affecting our children along with the adult population.   These maps, which were referenced repeatedly at the conference, tell the story in a way mere words can’t.  Please do take a minute to view them.   Along with the rise in obesity has come a rise in type 2 diabetes, hypertension and other “adult” health issues among children.   Just prior to the conference, USA Today had published an article that stated that, if current trends continue, by 2050 one third of our population will have developed diabetes, and for the first time in generations, the life expectancy of our children is shorter than that of the current generation of adults.    In a bizarre sidenote, many of the professionals there also noted that while obesity was on the rise, so was malnutrition and that it is entirely possible to be both overweight and undernourished at the same time due to poor food choices.

There is much more I could share on why this is so alarming to me, but let me talk to you about why this conference was also so encouraging.  The CDC says that if the trend toward obesity is to be reversed, we must address the availability of healthy foods, increase opportunities for physical exercise and create a system that supports health.  One of the presenters, Emily Jackson of ASAP, was quoted as putting it this way,  “what we all want to do is create a community environment where kids can’t help but grow up healthy.”   I feel that that is exactly what we are trying to do here at The Learning Center! and I see evidence that we are being successful.   There is, of course, much yet to be done, and there is more need than ever for our TLC!  Families to reinforce at home what our students are learning about health here on campus.  I encourage you to partner with us in creating a healthy future for our kids.

Couldn’t have said it any better.  Thanks Ms. Debby.

Chef Ann: Eliminating Chocolate Milk in Schools | Lunchbox

Why No Flavored Milk with Meals?

Ms. Debby gets asked frequently, especially by new members of  The Learning Center! family, why we don’t offer flavored milk at lunch and breakfast.  After all, it is milk and it does have all the good stuff associated with milk like calcium and vitamin D.  True…  BUT along with “the good stuff”  there is a lot of added sugar and thus a lot of extra calories that many students do not need.  Our compromise has been that we do offer chocolate milk as a snack item.

Chef Ann, a pioneer in bringing better foods to school lunch programs, explains it well in the video below.

Chef Ann: Eliminating Chocolate Milk in Schools | Lunchbox.