Charter School Students Play in the Dirt

 

Students at The Learning Center Charter School regularly play in the dirt.Students at The Learning Center Charter School regularly play in the dirt.  Whether working on the school’s vegetable garden, building miniature homes in the school’s Outdoor Learning Center, taking soil samples for science class or turning the school compost pile, being in the dirt is a regular part of any school day.

Garden based learning at The Learning Center Charter School.

Kindergarten through eighth grade students at the school do everything in the garden from weeding, planting, watering and harvesting fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Director in Training, Ryan Bender, 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 Bender.

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.”

Willey also has her first through fourth grade students continuously engineering, building, trouble shooting and redesigning miniature houses out in the woods for imaginary fairies and trolls.

“It is helpful for students who are intimidated in a classroom setting to be outdoors and have unstructured play and creative freedom while interacting with nature,” says Willey. “There is no wrong way to build these miniature homes and to watch students who may be timid in class slowly come into their own as they get to build outside has been nothing but inspiring.”

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Annual School Round Up Feature in the Cherokee Scout

Each August, our school is featured in the special edition section of the paper from the Cherokee Scout called the Annual School Round Up.  It’s always a wonderful summary of all the great things happening on campus and the vast array of programs and services available for your students.  Take a look…

The Learning Center Charter School, a tuition-free public charter school, continues to break ground with high-quality offerings in 21st century education. On-going facility improvements are designed for rich academic opportunities on this “future-ready” campus.

The Learning Center Charter School offers an E-STEAM (Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts/Agriculture, and Math) learning environment.  Students are exposed across the curriculum to 3-D Printers, robotics and coding. 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 in training, Ryan Bender.

The school’s programs include Compacted Math classes for accelerated math students, daily PE for all grades, a highly developed drama program, and frequent garden-based learning opportunities across campus and in the school’s Outdoor Learning Center. The upper grade’s CREW Program, in its fourth year of operation, promotes character development, goal setting and responsible behaviors.

More extras including National Junior Honor Society, wrestling team, ARTrageous and artists-in-residency program, “Mini and Middle REAL” young entrepreneur program and AIG After School Program provide students with the opportunities to become all they can be.  The school will field a soccer team this fall and looks to expand their sports program to include cross country as well.

Designated as a “USDA Healthier U.S. School” (Silver Level), The Learning Center Charter School 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 charter school 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 Innovation Tech Camp and intervention programs are also offered.

4th & 5th Graders Learn About Zero Waste

Fourth and fifth grade students learned about zero waste lifestyles- ways of living that use no plastic or packaging that can’t be composted. Afterwards students walked around campus to see our schools compost pile and picked up trash along the road in front of school and on campus. They filled three grocery bags and the kids were so proud to help our environment.

3rd Grade Science — Becoming Soil Experts

Third graders became soil scientists by observing and testing different soil samples around the school campus. Students noted color, texture, and infiltration. They did a simple soil test to determine the main rock particles of each sample. After moistened, if the soil would not make a ball we knew the main component was sand. If it formed a crumbly ball the main component was silt. A sticky ball that could form into a worm was mostly clay. Students also noticed if there was a high or low amount of organic matter present. Students identified organic matter in the garden soil and noticed it made the soil darker in color.

Big Buddies

Did you know that fourth graders are teamed up with first graders to be their “Big Buddies?”

They are always happy to get to spend time together.

One this particular day, the fourth graders spent time with their buddies in the woods. The older students helped the younger ones construct and improve upon their fairy houses.

Muddy Sneakers and 5th Grade Part II

Fifth graders have begun participating in The Muddy Sneakers program and will have several excursions throughout the school year.  The Muddy Sneakers program exists to enrich the standard course of study through experiential education in an outdoor setting where students connect with the land, become more active, and gain self-confidence while improving science aptitude.  Muddy Sneakers began as a pilot program in the spring of 2007 with Brevard and Pisgah Forest Elementary Schools in Transylvania County and has grown each year to now serve 36 schools across 12 counties and 13 school districts in the Carolinas.  Be sure to scroll down and read Part I in of series of 5th Grade and Muddy Sneakers in the previous post.

The second Muddy Sneakers excursion had the students trekking to Fires Creek to learn about Aquatic Ecosystems. The class was divided into two groups and Muddy Sneakers leaders Kiersten and Alex each took a group to the river to check the water quality.

The students had fun hiking their way through the trails to reach the water destination. Once there the instructors took out the collecting materials and explained to the students how to collect animal specimens without hurting them. Each student was partnered up. One of the partners went into the water first with a bucket, small fish net, and a small paint brush sponge.  The other student stayed on the bank to separate the different species into separate containers.

Afterwards, the class came back together to discuss what they found. Depending on what kinds of micro-invertebrate species they had found, they could determine if the water was healthy or polluted. Students were pleased to discover that the water was good quality.

Then, students hiked up to the waterfall and we discussed what they had learned from this expedition.

Muddy Sneakers and 5th Grade Part I

For the second year in a row, fifth graders at our school are participating in Muddy Sneakers.  The Muddy Sneakers program exists to enrich the standard course of study through experiential education in an outdoor setting where students connect with the land, become more active, and gain self-confidence while improving science aptitude.  Muddy Sneakers began as a pilot program in the spring of 2007 with Brevard and Pisgah Forest Elementary Schools in Transylvania County and has grown each year to now serve 36 schools across 12 counties and 13 school districts in the Carolinas.

Students had their first excursion to learn the rules and procedures during these field work expeditions.  Students learned things like how to identify poison ivy, what to do if they see a snake in the woods, how to use compasses and magnifying glasses, and how to behave around stinging insects.

This first day was spent walking the trails in our own Outdoor Learning Center.  During the lessons and hikes, students found some really cool fungus and discussed it as the group. They found Cobalt Crust, Stinkhorn Mushrooms, and a blanket of white fluff on a tree branch that they identified as Beech Blight Aphids (Grylloprociphilus imbricator), a species that lives off the sap of beech trees.

The students really are excited to learn more on future Muddy Sneakers expeditions!

4th Grade E-STEAM focused on Social Studies & Science– Harvesting Seed Beads

Recently, fourth grade teacher, Carrie Dyer, and elementary science teacher, Emily Willey, collaborated on Native American science and social studies E-STEAM project.

Students learned in science that technology evolves with society and that technology is anything or system that makes a process easier. Student went out into the school gardens and harvested seed bead plant, a plant that produces a little seeds with a natural hole through them that native Americans often used to make jewelry. The plant is technically a native from Africa but has been used in America for many years.

The students were challenged to see how many they could collect in a certain amount of time. It was interesting to watch the students process in gathering change. Some students quietly sat and picked the seed off the plant. Others picked up seeds that had dropped from the pile of plants pulled from the ground. Finally one group decided to start whacking their plant on the ground to knock the seeds off and collect them. Ms. Emily told that they basically had discovered the threshing of grains.  The class discussed how indigenous peoples harvested grains and had to thrash the plants to get the seed off of the plant.  They further discussed other systems of production and how need for survival encourages the development of technology. Students then worked with Ms. Carrie to incorporate the seed beads into a Native American project that tied in with their social studies standards.

1st Grade Science — All About Plants

First graders have been learning all about plants and what they need to survive. They have experimented with germinating radish seeds which created much excitement! They even transplanted their radish sprouts into the garden for a future fall harvest.