Head of School Becomes HundrED Ambassador

In the two years that Ryan Bender has been Head of School at The Learning Center Charter School, he has been committed to innovative education and weaving it into all that he does at the school. 

Under Bender’s leadership, the school became a certified Open Way Learning (OWL) Academy in September 2020.  OWL is a 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.

Bender was introduced to the HundrED movement through the OWL Academy connection. HundrED is a global education nonprofit organization which seeks and shares inspiring innovation in primary and secondary education.  

“I was accepted as a HundrED ambassador and this distinction connects our school to resources and innovative education happening across the globe,” said Bender.  “This benefits our school by linking resources for Professional Development for teachers as well as more educational resources for our students.”

“The voluntary HundrED community comprises over 600+ teachers, school principals, education consultants, professors, parents, and students from over 90 countries,” said Bender.  “This network of educators helps identify what works in schools and collaborate to drive change on the local level.”

Bender added that the HundrED program is in line with the school’s OWL philosophy of free and open-source access.  “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,” said Bender.

TLC Staff Livens Up Holidays

Both students and staff needed a moral boost before the holiday break. The unusual school year with they hybrid and fully remote models in place has been stressful on all. Teachers took it upon themselves to bring some holiday cheer and at least bring some laughter to those around by their over the top outfits!

Annual Makers Mash

Each Halloween students at The Learning Center Charter School participate in the school’s annual Makers Mash. Students make decorated or carved pumpkins and create “monsters” from up cycled materials. Judges are always on hand to pick winners in a wide variety of categories and award prizes.

“Our Makers Mash is a natural extension of the Maker spirit on our campus,” said Ryan Bender, head of school.  Bender explained that the school emphasizes an E-STEAM environment and teaches students that the science, math, and technology skills that are essential for modern life are deeply integrated within the activities of entrepreneurship and agriculture, as well as language, music, and visual arts.

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

“Our philosophy of education is built upon the idea that young learners need to be exposed to a broad array of rich learning experiences. Our Makers Mash event allows students to celebrate the holiday and learn, design, build, and create cool things as they do so,” added Bender.

The school became a certified OWL Academy earlier this year. OWL stands for Open Way Learning and the designation is only extended to schools that have shown dedication toward building a culture of innovation through collective leadership, systemic collaboration, open sharing, and a willingness to adopt and sustain innovative teaching and learning practices.

“Everything we do at The Learning Center from garden based learning, art education, an emphasis on health and wellness, E-STEAM, project based learning, experiential outdoor education, and more falls squarely under the Open Way Learning umbrella,” said Bender.  “Our Monster Maker event is just one example!”

Annual Mum Sale

The Learning Center charter school has long been known for selling beautiful mums each fall to the community.  It’s that time of year again!

Locally grown by Robert Gouglar of Sunshine Mountain Farms, the mums are larger and longer-lasting than what local chain stores are selling them for. They cost $12 each and come in a gallon sized terra cotta colored pot. Brilliant colors of red, white, orange yellow and pink/purple are available.

The annual mum sale is coordinated by the school’s parent group, Parents Involved. The group uses the proceeds from the sale to purchase school supplies for the school.

To buy a mum, call the school at 835-7240 or purchase directly from a school student.

Students Get a Jump Start

Teachers and students made a jump start to the new school year at The Learning Center Charter School the week of July 20, 2020.

Rising third and fourth graders at the school took advantage of the Summer Jump Start program that is designed to fill in the learning gaps and help with potential learning loss due to Covid-19.

Students countywide were directed by Governor Cooper to remain home from mid-March through the end of the last school year. The same is true for most all kindergarten through twelfth grade students nationwide.  Although students were participating in remote/virtual learning during that stay-at-home period, the extended pause has experts and educators concerned about the potential impacts on student achievement.

According to the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), a non-profit organization that assesses student academic progress in over 49 countries , 50 states, and 3400 districts, there are projected learning losses that are magnified by the extended  absence from in person instruction that occurs in the classroom. 

NWEA used data of typical summer learning loss and compared the learning loss trajectory for the additional two months of missed in person instruction. They used a national sample of over 5 million students in grades 3-8.

“It’s a statistical fact that students can suffer an academic setback during the summer months and with the extended closure due to Covid-19, we decided to put our Summer Jump Start program in place to lessen that gap,” said Stephanie Hopper, Associate Academic Director at the charter school.

The charter school carefully prepared the campus following DHHS guidelines to assure that students are learning in a safe environment.  Masks and strict safety protocols are in place to protect both students and teachers during the Summer Jump Start.

“Our goal has always been and it remains so during these difficult times to provide our students a high quality, comprehensive, and engaging education,” said Hopper.  “Our Summer Jump Start is ensuring we keep our students on track for a successful new school year.”

Free Online Counseling Sessions Available to Community

The global pandemic and resulting health, economic, and job security concerns along with continued and sustained social distancing are difficult for us all.  How can you cope? How can you help your family and friends cope with the uncertainty of it all?

The Learning Center Charter School in conjunction with DotCom Therapy, is offering four free online Jam Sessions for anyone in the community that would like to attend.  Each session is on a Tuesday evening as follows:  June 16 at 6pm, June 30 at 6pm, July 14 at 6pm, and July 28 at 6pm. Topics will include things like parents’ summer survival tips and helping kids self-regulate as well as cope during these times of isolation.

Participants can expect to have an open, supportive conversation about important topics and tips that impact our daily lives.

Participants can simply log on to listen to the information or take a more active role in the dialogue by asking questions.

The counselor that will be leading the sessions is Michaela Landry.  She earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work in 2015 from University of New England.

These Jam Sessions are funded by The Learning Center Charter School and are available to anyone in the community at no cost. Please visit www.naturallygrownkids.org, https://www.facebook.com/TLCGrowZonePage, or call 835-7240 to find the login information to join these free Jam Sessions.

Michaela Landry, Licensed Clinical Social Worker for DotCom Therapy, will lead four free online Jam Sessions for our community on June 16, June 30, July 14, and July 28th.

8th Grade Graduation Parade

On May 27, 2020, teachers and staff lined up around the school to cheer on our twenty one graduates as they paraded around the school and received their diplomas from Mr. Ryan near the front office. The event was streamed live on our Facebook page and although not a traditional graduation ceremony, it was a special way to honor the awesome eighth graders as they “level up” to high school. Congratulations Graduates!