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.
The Learning Center Charter School is excited to announce a
recently awarded grant of $3,500 by the Tennessee Valley Authority, in
partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated for a STEM (science,
technology, engineering and math) education project.
“Students will design and construct a putt-putt golf course
on our campus,” said Jess Stephens, eighth grade social studies teacher at the
school. The design will center around
North Carolina history and will include replicas of historical artifacts.
“We’ll be using the grant for building supplies and hope to
continue adding holes to the course every year,” said Stephens.
The grant award is a part of $600,000 in competitive STEM
grants awarded to 142 schools across TVA’s service territory. The competitive
grant program provided teachers an opportunity to apply for funding up to
$5,000 and preference was given to grant applications that explored TVA’s
primary areas of focus: environment, energy, economic and career development
and community problem solving. Schools who receive grant funding must receive
their power from a TVA distributor.
“This is the second year we offered this program to the
entire Valley and we saw a major increase in grant applications this year,”
said Community Engagement Senior Program Manager Rachel Crickmar. “There is a
demand in the Valley for workforce development through STEM education and I am
proud of the way TVA and our retirees are responding to that demand by supporting
teachers in the classroom.”
Under the direction of Ryan Bender, Head of School in Training, students at The Learning Center Charter School were recognized for perfect attendance for the first semester of the 2019-2020 school year.
“It’s important to honor students
that have perfect attendance,” said Bender.
“So much happens each and every day at school and missing days or even
hours can be disruptive to a student’s learning.” Bender added that attendance is important
because students are more likely to succeed in academics when they attend
Also, the school as a whole was
recently awarded the Academic Growth Award Certificate from North Carolina
Department of Public Instruction for achieving expected academic progress
during the 2018-2019 school year.
Academic growth is an indication of
the progress that students in the school make over the course of a school year.
“Our philosophy of education is built
upon the idea that young learners need to be exposed to a broad array of rich
learning experiences,” said Bender. “Our teachers and students work hard every
single day and we celebrate that success.”
The Learning Center Charter School was awarded a $1,000 grant from NC Beautiful on February 13, 2018.
NC Beautiful has been part of the state’s environmental preservation community for 40 years, supporting awareness, education and beautification efforts across the state. The organization concentrates on hands-on and merit-based programs designed to empower North Carolina citizens to preserve the natural beauty of the state.
Since 2003, the charter school has provided outdoor education for all of its students. The grant money will be used to enhance four outdoor learning spaces: 1) the front terraced garden; 2) a side garden plot; 3) the aquaponics garden; and 4) a new compost area. In addition to gardening tools such as clippers, shovels and gloves, additional mulch and soil will be added to the listed planting areas.
School Director, Mary Jo Dyre, said, “In this age where “screen time” heavily outweighs “green time,” we carefully craft a school day that allows our students to be outside getting their hands in the dirt as often as possible.”
Outdoor Learning Coordinator at the charter school, Emily Willey, added, “I am so thankful for the NC Beautiful Grant to provide us the funds to continue to maintain the garden beds and the tools to facilitate our spectacular outdoor program. These green spaces provide a much needed opportunity for our students to interact in a real way with the ecosystem around them while also gaining important skills and insights across their academic curriculum.”
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has awarded The Learning Center Charter School their Academic Growth Award for 2016-2017. This is it’s first year presenting awards for achieving and exceeding expected academic growth.
Academic growth refers to academic progress made over a period of time.
Academic growth represents an impressive amount of hard work by students and educators and our school is proud of this recognition!
The Learning Center! Charter School sent four teams to the Western Region North Carolina Odyssey of the Mind tournament on February 25th. Schools across Western North Carolina came together to compete in various problem-solving events for this competition held at McDowell High School in Marion, NC.
The line-up included a primary team (1st and 2nd graders) an elementary team (grades 3-5) and two middle school teams (grades 6-8).
The primary team received an honorary award called “OMER’s” for their incredible teamwork. The OMER’s Award is given to teams and individuals for showing Odyssey of the Mind spirit. It can be awarded to an individual or team who showed some type of artistic talent, good sportsmanship, teamwork, or for going beyond expectations to help others.
The elementary team won first place for their problem and division and they will advance to the State Competition to be held April 1st in Greensboro, NC.
Both middle school teams will also advance to State. Ms. Cheryl Catuto’s team took first place for their problem and division while Ms. Judy Coleman’s team took second place.
Odyssey of the Mind (OM) is an international educational program providing creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Thousands of teams throughout the U.S. and from approximately 25 other countries participate in the program. Students apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competition on the regional, state, and world level.
Students participating in the program work together as a team preparing for months before the competition, learning valuable skills such as creative/critical thinking, global awareness, cooperative planning, and complex technical and artistic problem solving.
To raise money for the expenses needed for all of these teams to travel to State, be on the lookout for several ways you can help. This will include a Zaxby’s Fundraiser Night later this month.
The Learning Center! Charter School’s “Academics & The Arts” – originally a two-day event – has morphed into a year-long celebration of the arts. The event, now in its eighth year, includes year-round, cross-curriculum activities combining art and academics.
Students create a wide variety of art, music and creative writing, in addition to using tools for projects and conducting science experiments.Designed to stretch minds, senses and creativity to its limits, the event culminates in an end-of-year awards day for student art and writing. On May 26th, students were awarded ribbons and also a “basket award” drawing for any student who participated in the annualAcademics & The Arts contest. Although Learning Center Director, Mary Jo Dyre coordinates both the writing and visual arts contests, she maintains the event could not be the success it has always been without teachers in participating grades (2ndthrough 5th) and the assistance of art teacher Carrie Dyer for Kindergarten though 8th graders.
Five teams from The Learning Center! Charter School participated in the Western Region North Carolina Odyssey of the Mind tournament on February 27th at Enka-Candler High School in Enka, NC.
Schools across Western North Carolina came together to compete in various problem-solving events for this competition.
The line-up included two middle school teams (grades 6-8), two elementary teams (grades 3-5) and one primary team (K-2). “All of our students performed exceptionally well,” said Odyssey of the Mind coordinator and coach, Judy Coleman. “I am so proud of what our students have accomplished.” Both middle school teams coached by Cheryl Catuto and Judy Coleman and one of the elementary teams, coached by drama director Ryan Bender, took 2nd place in their respective problems and divisions
Odyssey of the Mind (OM) is an international educational program providing creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Thousands of teams throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the program. Students apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competition on the regional, state, and world level.
Students participating in the program worked together as a team preparing for months before the competition, learning valuable skills such as creative/critical thinking, global awareness, cooperative planning, and complex technical and artistic problem solving.
Congratulations to all the teams and their coaches for their countless hours of hard work and dedication!
The Learning Center! Charter School has a long history of dedication to good nutrition and believes it is the cornerstone for building better students. With that high priority and commitment, it’s no surprise the school has won multiple awards over the years.
The latest was an impressive “Silver Level Award” plaque presented to the school during the 2015 Annual Conference for School Nutrition Administrators held in Durham, NC. on October 29. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) presented the award as part of their “HealthierUS School Challenge” Program. The distinction also included a $1000 cash award and a banner that hangs in the school. The Silver Level Award recognizes the school for healthier school environments through promotion of nutrition and physical activity. The Learning Center is the only charter school in North Carolina to earn this prestigious recognition to date.
The Learning Center! Charter School has a long history of dedication to good nutrition and believes it is the very foundation for building better students. With that high priority and commitment, it’s no surprise the school has won multiple awards over the years. The latest was an impressive “Silver Level Award” banner and plaque presented to the school on May 3rd by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as part of their “HealthierUS School Challenge” Program. The distinction also includes a $1000 cash award. The Learning Center is the only charter school in North Carolina to earn this prestigious recognition to date.
In February, the school received a congratulatory letter from First Lady, Michelle Obama for the recognition. The HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms (HUSSC: SL) is a certification initiative that recognizes schools for their efforts to create healthier school environments through promotion of nutrition and physical activity. Some of these efforts include improving food and beverage offerings, teaching kids about nutritious food choices, providing opportunities for physical activity, and having supportive school wellness policies. The HealthierUS School Challenge program supports Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign by recognizing schools that are creating healthier school environments through these activities.
To qualify for the award, nutrition director, Susan Blomeley worked with nutrition education coordinator, Debby Intemann and curriculum coordinator, Cheryl Catuto to submit a formal application and document criteria set forth by the USDA Food and Nutrition Services. The program’s criteria reflects the recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published recommendations (April 2007) for foods that should be served outside of the organized school meals program. The HealthierUS Schools Program must meet additional criteria demonstrating its commitment to a healthy school environment, as well as implement a local school wellness policy, as mandated by Congress. Schools receiving The HealthierUS Schools award commit to meeting the criteria throughout their four-year certification period.
The Learning Center, designated an “A+ Fit School” in 2010 by The North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund, adds this award to numerous others over the past five years. These include recognition and awards by the USDA and the NC Dept. of Public Instruction for its dedication to maintaining the highest standards in child nutrition.