At the beginning of the school year, fifth grade teacher Ms. Gina planned a get together with her students and their families at a local pizza place. Ms. Gina does this each school year as a way to get to know her students and set the stage for a wonderful school year.
Teachers and staff at The Learning Center Charter School have spent the last several weeks prepping classrooms, campus and curriculum for the start of the new school year this week.
Ryan Bender, Head of School in Training, pointed out all the steps necessary to get ready for a new school year. “Building and site maintenance is crucial during the summer months,” said Bender. “More importantly, however, our teachers spend much of their summer break attending training in order to be sure our school continues to offer an outstanding academic program.”
Bender said that some of the most exciting training teachers experienced this summer was OWL training. OWL stands for Open Way Learning and is the brainchild of local educators Ben Owens and Adam Haigler. This way of teaching/learning has been the foundational approach at Tri-County Early College High School.
According to openwaylearning.org, “Open Way Learning (OWL) offers a set of principles that can transform schooling through leveraging the power of open communities. It is a framework that encourages educators to create, tweak, and share best practices to help education 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 their learning communities.”
“Tri-County Early College High School has an impressive and proven track record of success,” said Bender. “We are here to take this revolutionary educational model to the kindergarten through eighth grade level.”
Each August, our school is featured in the special edition section of the paper from the Cherokee Scout called the Annual School Round Up. It’s always a wonderful summary of all the great things happening on campus and the vast array of programs and services available for your students. Take a look…
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, daily P.E., 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 and accepts students across all counties.
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 school director in training, Ryan Bender.
The school’s programs include Compacted Math classes for accelerated math students, daily PE for all grades, a highly developed drama program, and frequent garden-based learning opportunities across campus and in the school’s Outdoor Learning Center. The upper grade’s CREW Program, in its fourth year of operation, promotes character development, goal setting and responsible behaviors.
More extras including National Junior Honor Society, wrestling team, ARTrageous and artists-in-residency program, “Mini and Middle REAL” young entrepreneur program and AIG After School Program provide students with the opportunities to become all they can be. The school will field a soccer team this fall and looks to expand their sports program to include cross country as well.
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 serves approximately 200+ students and is open to both in and out-of-county students. There is no tuition for 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.
Jess Stephens, eighth grade Social Studies teacher at The Learning Center Charter School, was selected from over 400 applicants to attend the 2018 William Friday Teachers Retreat Carolina Voices in honor of Wilma Dykeman on July 25 – 27th in Asheville, NC.
One of only 35 teachers chosen to attend, Stephens participated in the two and a half day academic retreat. Generously funded by the North Caroliniana Society and the Hillsdale Fund, Inc., the retreat focused on North Carolina history and literature.
“Much of what my eighth grade social studies students explore in class deals with the diverse and distinctive people and events that have occurred in our Tar Heel history,” said Stephens. “It was such a wonderful, immersive experience to attend this academic retreat and what I learned will be brought into my classroom daily.”
Second graders at The Learning Center Charter School engineer, build, test, design and troubleshoot every day. Why? Because STEM education extends to every student at the school no matter the age.
Second grade teacher, Stephanie Hopper, engages her 7 and 8 year old students with STEM projects regularly. This fall she will have her students build pumpkin wagons, design scarecrows with specific construction standards that the students must meet, and engineer “turkey hideouts” to avoid the Thanksgiving table. The activities are seasonal but also fit squarely into the school’s STEM approach to education.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Our school takes it a step further by including entrepreneurship, arts and agriculture – E-STEAM.
Mary Jo Dyre, Executive Director, says, “Cultivating an E-STEAM culture is the guiding philosophy for our school and within that we offer an amazing array of learning opportunities for our students – each and every student from kindergarten through eighth grade.”
The STEM activities that Hopper integrates into her everyday lessons are a prime example of that approach. “My students plan, design, engineer, test, and reconstruct each and every day. It’s just what we do.” Hopper adds that no student is too young to be introduced and challenged by this approach. “I’m always encouraging them to expand and improve upon a design. I ask how they can make it better, wider, taller, or hold more weight. The students always rise to the challenge too,” said Hopper.
The annual Parent Fair was held August 16, 2018 from 1:30-6:00 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.
Sixth through eighth grade math teacher, Jess Stephens goes out of her way to make math approachable to her students at The Learning Center Charter School. Inspired by the book, Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire by Rafe Esquith, Stephens comes to class everyday prepared to replace her students’ fear of math with trust, positivity and fun.
Each day of the week is a specific theme for these middle school math students at the charter school. In additional to Mindset Mondays, Workout Wednesdays, and Throwback Thursdays, Stephens wears a tutu on Tuesdays.
“I constantly tell my students that they can be anything they want to be and on Tuesdays I want to be a tutu wearing princess,” says Stephens. “My ever changing silly tutu gets kids excited for Tuesday. The silliness increases engagement during class and, in my opinion, makes me more approachable.”
To learn more about math for all ages at The Learning Center Charter School, visit www.naturallygrownkids.org or call (828)835-7240.