The Learning Center Earns OWL Academy Distinction

The Learning Center Charter School has earned the distinction of being an Open Way Learning (OWL) Academy as of September 15, 2020.

OWL is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the singular mission to help schools develop, sustain, and grow cultures of innovation that better prepares students for our modern world and workforce.  According to openwaylearning.org, OWL is a framework that encourages educators to create, modify, and share best practices to help education keep pace with a rapidly changing economy, society, and environment.

The OWL Academy designation was granted by the OWL Board of Directors as a way to highlight schools that have demonstrated a commitment to authentic innovation. Specifically, the designation is only extended to schools that have shown dedication toward building a culture of innovation through the principles of Open Way Learning: living mission, collective leadership, systemic collaboration, open sharing, and a willingness to adopt and sustain innovative teaching and learning practices.

Head of school, Ryan Bender, is proud of the OWL Academy designation and said, “Engaging in shared vision, collaboration, and the free exchange of ideas ensures that our school will continue to create customized solutions for our students and community.

“We were able to continue the work on becoming an OWL Academy school despite the challenges that Covid-19 has presented and I think that the OWL Board of Directors recognized that as clear evidence of our true commitment to an innovation culture,” added Bender.

Art Still Part of Curriculum Despite Covid-19

Students at The Learning Center Charter School are either attending school in a hybrid model or fully remote, depending on student choice. However, despite this unique scheduling due to the global pandemic, all students at the school are still receiving visual arts and music education weekly.

The charter school embraces learning through the arts as an essential part of their E-STEAM curriculum. E-STEAM stands for entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, arts & agriculture, and math. The arts component is evident on the campus grounds that showcases art projects from across the grade levels and subject areas.

Despite the challenges due to Covid-19 for teachers and students as opposed to a “normal” school year model, the school has found a way to still provide art education to all of students. Art teacher, Kelly Denton, has created both independent art and music websites that guide students through art and music lessons. The art website even acts as a showcase for student art upon submission to Denton.

“I’ve managed to map out the entire school year with both music and visual art lessons,” said Denton. Students will study things like rhythm, tempo, pitch and different music styles. Art lessons include things like shapes, positive and negative space, color theory, as well as focus on different famous artists throughout the school year. 

“School has to be more than sitting at a computer clicking through options. I want our kids to have fun and learning things they can use to express themselves. What the students have been producing is phenomenal. They inspire me,” said Denton.

1st Grade Science – Plants!

First graders spent time in one of the many school gardens collected marigold seed. This gardening activity was part of science class where they were learning about what plants need to live and grow. They also were learning about the life cycle of a plant.

Cherokee Culture Part of Outdoor Education

Students at The Learning Center Charter School are outside a portion of each school day. The school has an official screened room dubbed The Outdoor Learning Center as well as numerous gardens and trails.

Students regularly can be found doing art, reading, learning science, participating in PE, learning math, gardening, or having recess outdoors.

“Having our students outside is just what we’ve always done,” said Shelley Farmer, physical education staff and STEM coordinator at the school. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.

“Our campus sits right near the river and Cherokee elders have told us that it would have been prized Cherokee land,” said Farmer.  “That in addition to the Cherokee people and culture so prevalent in our region, we make it a point to study the tribe, their language, culture, and traditions each school year.”

Farmer added that students are learning new Cherokee words each week. Students recently learned that osiyo means hello in Cherokee.

The school also includes traditional crafts in their studies. Students recently made Dream Catchers from natural materials found around the school’s Outdoor Learning Center.

“Being outside engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn,” said Farmer. “Layering on the culture of the Cherokee Nation enriches those experiences.”

1st Grade Science – All Living Things Video from Ms. Emily

Ms. Emily teaches science to our young students. Here she is teaching about living things.

As a family member or friend of a student at our school, you may wonder how education is being delivered remotely on the days that your student is not on campus. Our teachers are using many methods including videos. This is just one example! Here, Ms. Emily does a short ten minute lesson for first graders on living things as part of science.