Students at The Learning Center Charter School are accustomed to being outside during the school day because teachers use the outdoors as an extension of the classroom as often as possible.
“Learning outdoors is a cornerstone of our educational philosophy,” said Ryan Bender, head of school. He added that the great outdoors provides the perfect setting for all subjects. “Most people will tell you that being outside is the perfect place for teaching a science lesson. And, they are right! But, the outdoors is also hugely beneficial when teaching reading, social studies, math, and art.”
According to National Wildlife Federation, American Institutes of Research, and the Sierra Club, when children are taught in the outdoors, better test scores, higher grade point averages, decreased behavior problems, and improved health are the result.
“We have an Outdoor Learning Center at our school that is a screened classroom,” said Bender. In addition to the classroom, classes also meet around the fire pit, among the school’s many gardens, and along the trails around the school.
Let’s face it. The 2020-21 school year is looks vastly different than years past. Masks. Social distancing. A and B schedules. Remote learning days. However, one thing is not different. TLC students get outside often!
As often as possible, classes will be outside and our Outdoor Learning Center will be utilized to it’s fullest potential.
Our school has always put an emphasis on being outdoors. Our teachers take students outdoors for lessons on science, to engage in garden based learning, to read and write in the outdoors, to engage in physical education, and for countless other reasons. It’s part of the reason we have a dedicated outdoor space that we call the Outdoor Learning Center. The outdoors offers an expansion of our classroom walls as well as the space for students to spread out and move their bodies.
As our new school year unfolds during the Covid-19 pandemic, be assured that our students will continue to be outdoors as often as possible.
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, 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 for North Carolina residents.
The school is on track to be an accredited O.W.L. (Open Way Learning) School later this summer. OWL is a framework that encourages educators to create and share best practices to help keep pace with a rapidly changing economy, society, and environment. OWL encourages educators to prioritize shared vision, distributed leadership, collaboration, freely exchanged knowledge, and innovation in creating customized solutions for learning communities. OWL serves an umbrella over the E-STEAM and PBL (Project Based Learning) foundation of the school. Additionally, fundamental principles of the school such as garden based learning, good nutrition and wellness, and a rich arts program that includes a well developed drama department fit under the OWL umbrella.
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 Head of School, Ryan Bender.
More extras including Compacted Math classes for accelerated math students, daily PE for all grades, National Junior Honor Society, wrestling team, ARTrageous and artists-in-residency program, “Mini and Middle REAL” young entrepreneur program, Academically and Intellectually Gifted Program, and the after school program provide students with the opportunities to become all they can be. The school also boasts an upper grade CREW Program, in its fifth year of operation, which promotes character development, goal setting, and responsible behaviors.
Additionally, the school instituted an ECO Ed option several years ago offering a home school flex program. The ECO Ed program works with community partners to create adjustable, flexible schedules for families who want to spend more time together and still be connected with a school for instructional support. Having the ECO Ed option already in place made the sudden transition to remote learning in the spring of 2020 as a result of the global pandemic a smooth transition for both teachers and students as a whole. Having a system already in place resulted in rich and engaging lessons during the stay-at-home orders and kept students plugged into their teachers, classmates and education.
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 servesapproximately 200+ students and is open to both in and out-of-county students. There is no tuitionfor 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.
To learn more about and to enroll your child at The Learning Center Charter School, visit www.naturallygrownkids.org or call (828)835-7240.
During this remote learning environment that our students and staff have been experiencing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, elementary science teacher, Ms. Emily, has included activities in her science lessons that get students outside exploring the outdoors.
Students were tasked with an outdoor challenge to build a fairy fort or a troll tower to welcome tiny outdoor friends. Students had a wonderful time at home interacting with the great outdoors to create beautiful dwellings.
Additionally, students were also guided on how to take tree and leaf rubbings to help properly identify trees in nature.
Third graders recently enjoyed DIY microwave popcorn grown in the TLC garden. An heirloom breed called pappys gems was grown and students microwaved it simply in a brown paper bag avoiding the chemicals often included in microwave popcorn. A science lesson with a snack was a hit for all!
Building boats and racing them down the creek was the order of the day on October 29th for fifth grade students at The Learning Center Charter School. That’s because field educators from Muddy Sneakers took the class on an expedition to Fires Creek to learn about force and motion.
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.
While at Fires Creek, students had to construct a boat and see how fast it could travel in the creek in 11 seconds. Students made a hypothesis, tested their boats, made adjustments and then tested them again. They also investigated how a pulley system works by trying to find the best way to get a rope over a tree limb to lift a weighted backpack off the ground.
Fifth grade science teacher at the school, Gina Stafford, said, “The students loved the trip not just because it was fun, but because they were divided into small groups and were really able to focus on what the instructors were teaching. I loved seeing the kids so involved with the activities and enjoying the outdoors. They really did get muddy sneakers!”
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