1st Grade School Maker Faire Project

Students in first grade worked together on a School Maker Faire project all about birds. They had been learning about the building and nesting of Cardinals and Vogelkop Bower birds and took what they learned and ran!

First, students each build a cardinal nest. They learned that the birds use pine needles, weeds, twigs, tree bark, and roots to make their nests. They collected nesting material outdoors and used their engineering skills to build replica nests.

The second project was Vogelkop Bower bird nests. Students learned that this bird uses sticks for the nest roof and moss for the floor. The male bird collects colorful and shiny items to present on the “bower”, or stage, to attract females.

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Meet Our Teachers – Cheryl Catuto

Meet Cheryl Catuto! Here is what she had to say.

My name is Cheryl Catuto.  I am the School Success Coordinator at TLC.  My family and I moved to Murphy in 2006 from Cape Coral, FL where I joined the TLC staff.  While working here, I have taught 2nd-6th grade and PE. I am currently in my 19th year in education. My husband, Mike, and I are blessed to have two amazing kids, Carlee (an alumni of TLC) who is a sophomore at TCEC and Tony a 5th grader at TLC.  Mike, Mr. Sean and I started TLC’s very first sport, the TLC Wrestling Club.  I am certified in Elementary Education and Physical Education, but my favorite subject to teach is Math.  In my current role, I handle all of our testing for state tests, MAP testing, teacher licensure and anything else that is needed.  I love analyzing data and making plans to improve our school and help our amazing TLC teachers.  Some fun facts about me: I hate bananas because the smell makes me sick, my favorite color is teal, I love Harry Potter, I coach a muggle quidditch team and I have a sweet little dog named Bella.

Abstract Art – Wassily Kandinsky

Fifth grade students have been doing amazing stuff in art! They have been learning about Wassily Kandinsky and his abstract art. Kandinsky experienced synesthesia – he could hear color and see music! The kids have been using a program that allows them to choose colors and shapes and create pieces of music. They have also been listening to pieces of music and creating art based on what they believe the music looks like.

3rd Grade Science – Plant Life Cycle

Third graders recently studied plant needs and life cycle. They were so excited to germinate seeds in their desk, dissect and label parts of the seed (seed coat, epicotyl, radical, embryo, and cotyledon) and then learn the parts of a flower by dissecting daffodils.

Meet Our Teachers – Monica Matthews

Here is what Ms. Monica had to say:

Hi my name is Monica Matthews. I have lived in this area since I was in 3rd grade. I went to Union Co schools until 7th grade then went to Nantahala School where I graduated. I have always wanted to be a teacher! I went to college at WCU for my undergrad and masters in education. I started my teaching career at The Learning Center and have had the pleasure of teaching Kindergarten-8th grade students. I am now working as the EC coordinator for the school. I love working with teachers, families, and students to find the best ways for them to learn. I love that TLC has gardens and lots of outdoor spaces that learning can take place. I enjoy partnering with the community for projects at school. Currently the EC department is partnering with a local artist to create a sensory trail. I have a 1 year old son and enjoy spending time outside with my family. I also love to dance! I have been clogging for over 20 years. I enjoy teaching others to dance as well and look forward to continuing my clogging club at TLC. 

Meet Our Teachers – Katie Grider

This is what First Grade teacher, Katie Grider, had to say:

Hello, my name is Katie Grider. I am living my dream of being a first grade teacher each and every day! Ever since I was six years old and in the first grade, I wanted to be a first grade teacher. My teacher at the time, Mrs.Black, greatly inspired my love for learning and children. I want to inspire, love, and encourage all of my students, just as she did for me.


I have been teaching at The Learning Center for four years and absolutely love it! Each year that I have taught has been in the first grade.

I am also a mama of an amazing 6 year old named Scarlett. She is my best friend and my ray of sunshine. I love seeing the world through her and all my students eyes! They teach me as much as I teach them.


I look forward to many more fantastic years of being a teacher!