Why Our Students Compost Food in Our Dining Commons

What is compost?

Compost is decayed organic matter.  The organic matter can be anything from leaves, cut grass, egg shells to banana peels. When lots of organic matter is mixed together in a pile and left to decompose, you are left with a nutrient rich fertilizer that helps gardens grow.

Did you know that food waste makes up 30-40% of the waste stream?!  We are composting at The Learning Center to help save valuable landfill space and reduce the pollution associated with hauling heavy food waste.

Each year students are taught to add their discarded foods to the compost bucket located near the trash can instead of throwing it away. Each day, all the food from that bucket is added to the school compost pile located near the basketball goals in the front parking lot.  That compost pile is maintained by Ms. Emily and the resulting compost is used in the gardens around campus and the greenhouse year round.

6th-8th Grade CREW “Sorting” Ceremony

Sixth through eighth grade students at The Learning Center Charter School are divided into four multi-grade CREW groups at the beginning of each school year.  This year the process mimicked the sorting ceremony from the popular Harry Potter book series.

The CREW selection process was like the Harry Potter sorting ceremony where each student wore the hat and it was revealed to them which CREW had been selected for them.

Each CREW meets weekly throughout the school year and are designed to build relationships and a sense of community.  CREW allows students to have a safe place with peers to share both triumphs and defeats.  CREW encourages peer facilitations wherein students take active leadership roles and teachers serve as moderators rather than leaders of the groups.

Ms. Jessie said, “Our CREW concept is based on the idea that we are all in the same boat.  We work together like a crew of a ship.”

After the sorting ceremony, each CREW participated in get-to-know-you icebreaker games.  As the school year progresses, each group will work on goal setting, community service and social development.


Scenes from Our Annual Parent Fair

The annual Parent Fair was held August 22, 2019 from 2:00-6:00 pm and served as way to inform and to provide parents of enrolled students with all of the “start-up” details for the upcoming school year. It also provided an opportunity for parents and the community to explore the full range of Learning Center offerings.

Want to know more about The Learning Center Charter School? Fill out the form below.

Email with questions about TLC from contact form in blog post –
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It’s Not Too Late to Become a Bear Cub Clogger

In conjunction with John C. Campbell Folk School, clogging classes are offered to our students on Tuesdays and Thursdays in September on our campus.

The fall clogging class session is a total of 10 classes and costs $20 (that’s only $2 a session!)

Any kindergarten through eighth grade student may sign up.  Please note that if the student is in kindergarten or first grade, they must have a sibling or adult present with them at practice.

Students will learn basic clogging steps and routines. They will have performance opportunities around our local community.

Students should have a leather soled shoe, tap, or clogging shoes.

Want to know more?  Click or tap here to send Ms. Monica an email and to reserve a space for your child. 

6th-8th Grade Fall Camping Trip Sept. 23-25th

6th - 8th Fall Camping Trip

It’s time for our annual 6th-8th grade fall camping trip. Students and staff will be camping September 23-25, 2019 at Camp Kanuga in Hendersonville, NC.

Activities will be supervised by Camp Kanuga staff and include ecology lessons, canoeing, high ropes and climbing courses. There will also be a night hike, Appalachian culture activities and campfires.

Students will stay in winterized cabins and all meals will be provided by Camp Kanuga staff.

This highly anticipated event is a highlight of the school year for our 6th through 8th grade students!

Head of School Under the Tent Thursday, Sept 12th

Head of School Under the Tent Set for Sept 12th

Several times a year, our Director — and in this case our Head of School in Training — sets up a tent in the front parking lot and makes himself available all day.  Use this time to get information, ask questions and chat with Mr. Ryan about The Learning Center Charter School.  This casual setting is the perfect opportunity to find out about programs on campus, volunteer your time or talent, and ask questions that have cropped up since school began.

Mr. Ryan will see you Thursday, September 12th any time during regular school hours.

Kindness in the Classroom

Keep an eye out for these bear paws popping up all over campus. . . maybe even in your child’s backpack!

What are they? They are part of a new program we are kicking off this year at The Learning Center called Kindness in the Classroom.  On the reverse side of each paw print, you’ll find the following:

Teachers and staff are implementing a Kindness in the Classroom program that addresses and teaches important life skills such as assertiveness, caring, compassion, fairness, gratitude, integrity, helpfulness, perseverance, respect, responsibility, self-care and self-discipline. These concepts are presented in ways that are differentiated for each grade to account for students’ developmental levels.

This will be an on-going campaign.

Be sure to ask your student about what they are learning!

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.”

Click or tap here to learn more about our approach to education.

Nutrition High Priority at The Learning Center

Nutrition High Priority at The Learning Center Charter School

The Learning Center Charter School knows that good nutrition is the very foundation for building better students.

Over the years, the school has won numerous awards and recognition by the NC Department of Public Instruction for its dedication to maintaining the highest standards in child nutrition including Award of Excellence, Breakfast Champion Award, as well as the Silver Level Award from USDA HealthierUS School Challenge Program, and the Twentieth Annual “Best Practice Awards” in the categories of National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and Food Distribution Program from the Southeast Regional Office of the USDA.

Hilary Ehlers, Child Nutrition Director at the school, notes that for the first time this fall, Montessori preschool students on the charter school campus will be offered meals through the school.

“We are excited that our Montessori preschool students will be eating the same delicious, nutritious meals that our kindergarten through eighth grade students have always enjoyed,” said Ehlers.

Breakfast will be served in the Dining Commons while lunch and snacks will be served directly to the Montessori classroom using the school’s moveable hotbox for delivery.

Ehlers added that she and the nutrition staff have great new menus lined up for the new school year that include some new and exciting foods. The nutrition team already has several weeks planned focusing on a food cultural exchange where foods from different parts of the world are served.  “Offering foods from different cultures helps broaden our students’ taste bud horizons,” said Ehlers.

Click or tap here to learn more about the importance of nutrition at The Learning Center Charter School.

TLC Montessori Preschool

Preschool staff at TLC Montessori Preschool
Alexis Courtright, Tammy Keeling and Kristen Passmore staff the TLC! Montessori Preschool located at 945 Conaheeta Street, Murphy.

The Montessori preschool program located on The Learning Center Charter School campus is currently accepting applications.

Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play.  Tried and tested world-wide for over 100 years, the Montessori approach helps children develop creativity, problem solving, critical thinking and time management skills.

TLC! Montessori Preschool has been in operation since 1983 and is designed to ensure that young students are starting their educational lives in an exciting, engaging and individualized way.

TLC! Montessori Preschool provides a seamless transition for students to enter the tuition free, public charter school that shares its campus.   These preschoolers graduate ready to smoothly transition into the Montessori Blend Kindergarten program at the charter school. From then, all the way through eighth grade, students are educated in an environment that puts into practice the principles of Montessori – respect for the individuality of every student and the freedom and support to let each student take charge of his own learning.

For more information or to schedule a tour, call the school at 828-835-7240.