Classrooms and campus grounds of The Learning Center Charter School are filled with art projects from across grade levels and subject areas. This is because the school embraces learning through the arts as an essential part of a holistic, E-STEAM curriculum.
E-STEAM stands for entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, arts and agriculture, and math.
“We know the arts are a crucial component of education for 21st Century students,” said Ryan Bender, head of school. “Through our classroom arts emphasis, weekly art instruction, art electives, and extracurricular activities in the arts, we are creating the kind of learners that can excel in any field they pursue.”
Teachers at the school use the arts, both visual and dramatic, in the classroom to teach core standards in an engaging and memorable way. On any given day, students can be found singing their multiplication tables, constructing sculptures in the garden, re-enacting famous scenes from American history, or cutting, pasting, and painting for their latest assignment.
Each year, our fifth grade students spend the year doing field work with 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.
Spring is here and students had a wonderful spring expedition with Muddy Sneakers in April. Students compiled a list of various indicators that spring has arrived.
Third graders at The Learning Center Charter School are immersing the pop culture phenomenon of graphic novels into their everyday studies and are learning language arts, science, and art as a result.
A graphic novel is a full length story published as a book in comic-strip format. In other words, graphic novels are book length comic books and subject matter can range from mysteries to superhero stories.
Teacher Kathleen Shook noticed student interest in graphic novels and decided to embrace it as a means to teach subjects across the curriculum. In addition to fully embracing graphic novels as a means to learn topics in language arts, students have also created their own graphic novels as part of writing assignments, illustrated them in art class, and included science lessons as part of the novels.
“My class has been really into graphic novels outside of class,” said Shook. “Bringing that excitement into other areas of study has been a fun way to engage my students and deepen their learning in other areas.”
Shook added that students have even been writing comics at home and bringing them to school to share with the class. Plus, Murphy Public Library loaned twenty new novels for the class to enjoy.
“Learning should be fun and my students have been having a blast weaving graphic novels throughout their studies each day,” said Shook.
To celebrate the 100th day of school, students in first grade were tasked with building animals with 100 found objects. These fun creations were showcased during the virtual School Maker Faire in March.
Starting in the 2021-22 school year, The Learning Center Charter School will be participating in the Amazon Future Engineer Program. This program provides resources and support to teachers and students in the field of computer science.
The school is expanding to include high school grades. For the upcoming school year, ninth grade will be added. Tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades will be added in each subsequent school year.
“The engineering program offered in partnership with Amazon will be a valuable tool we offer both our high school and middle school students,” said Ryan Bender, head of school. Bender added that the partnership will allow teachers to introduce students to a variety of technological resources.
“This will allow us to introduce the basics of computer science including Scratch coding language,” said teacher Jessie Adams. Adams is the current sixth – eighth grade science teacher. However, with the addition of ninth grade next school year, she will be the seventh-ninth grade science teacher. Adams added that the curriculum provided through the partnership will also allow students to explore robotics, artificial intelligence, app development and more.
“We are excited that our middle and high school students will develop these skills and have amazing experiences like virtual visits with Amazon engineers, field trips to Amazon facilities, and ongoing opportunities for real-world experiences,” said Adams.
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.
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.
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.