Summer LEAP in Full Swing

Students at The Learning Center Charter School have been participating in the school’s summer program called LEAP. LEAP stands for Learning Education Activity Program.

The summer program at the school was created as a result of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and how two school years were affected by it. The 2019-2020 school year abruptly forced students nationwide into online learning. The 2020-2021 school year saw a mix of remote, online learning and limited in-person learning.  Plus the addition of social distancing and masks when in-person learning was an option created obstacles as well.

“For absolutely no fault of their own, the last few years of school have been incredibly challenging for students to meet expected academic growth,” said Ryan Bender, head of school for The Learning Center. He added, “Our summer LEAP program was designed as a way to meet students where they are and really help fill gaps and move them forward.”

The LEAP program at the school is running different sessions depending on grade level. Each session lasts four weeks. Students spend time daily learning reading, writing, and working on math fundamentals. Each day includes time outdoors as well as “making” activities including music and visual arts.      

Students Build Square Foot Garden

Students are seen here creating a new Square Foot Garden on our campus.

Square foot gardening is a simple method of creating small, orderly, and highly productive gardens and was invented by Mel Bartholomew as a better way to grow a vegetable garden. It became a huge hit when he introduced the idea to the gardening public in 1981 in his book Square Foot Gardening.

This endeavor is teaching many things including math, science, teamwork, and an understanding of where food comes from. Students will be planting vegetables, herbs, and flowers in these garden beds.

Making & Doing

On any given day, you can walk across campus and find students making and doing all sorts of things. It’s part of or E-STEAM philosophy!

E-STEAM stands for entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, arts & agriculture, and math.

This photos show 5th graders building something from items found in The Outdoor Learning Center. Be sure to ask a 5th grader about it the next time you see one!

Muddy Sneaker Spring Expedition

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.

4th Grade – Science in the Spring Garden

Fourth grade students helped prepare the spring garden as part of science lessons. Students studied the rock and mineral cycle and learned and observed how that relates to soil quality. There is so much to learn in the garden!

5th Grade – Muddy Sneakers

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.

In early February, students had a fun outdoor science excursion. Students trekked in the woods (The Outdoor Learning Center) to observe a flock of robins searching for food, then searched under the leaves to find a few myriapods (centipedes and millipedes), spiders, and other fun creepy crawlies.

Next, students learned about weather measurement tools, cloud types, evaporation, air density/pressure zones, and how all these factors play together to create the weather effects we are all already familiar with. Teacher, Mr. Fenris, was the “Sun, the Great Evaporator” evaporating our 5th grade water molecules in a Red-light, Greenlight style game.

Finally, they built and decimated a model city with EXTREME weather (handfuls of leaves).

Students had an absolute blast!

1st Grade Science – Ecosystems

First grade students spent time outdoors learning about ecosystems as part of their science studies. The Outdoor Learning Center on our campus is a living, breathing, science laboratory and our first grade students love being in it!

1st Graders Outside Learning Science and Social Studies

Ask a first grade student at The Learning Center Charter School where their favorite classroom is and they will tell you outside. That is because students at the school spend time outdoors daily learning everything from math and science to social students and language arts.

Elementary science teacher Emily Willey takes her students outside at every possible opportunity. This fall she has had her first grade students outside participating in fall activities as students planted pansies to learn about cold weather crops.  Students also donated old clothes and helped make a scarecrow for the garden by gathering leaves and stuffing the scarecrow.

“Being outside engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn,” said Willey.  She added that even though students loved playing in the leaves and getting their hands dirty in the garden, the time was also spent learning about weather, why some plants can withstand cold temperatures better than others, and autumn cultural activities.

“Our E-STEAM curriculum is taught using Project Based Learning activities that take place in a variety of spaces, both indoor and outdoor, on campus,” said Willey.