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.      

Hands-On Learning

Last school year, our Kindergarten students learned about birds. This included learning facts, reading books about birds, counting and measuring bird things as part of math lessons, and more. However, Ms. Louise was sure to engage the students further with plenty of hands-on activities.

One of the fun hands-on projects these students did was make their own birdfeeders. Students had learned about what birds eat and the importance of high density nutrients to sustain all the things that busy birds do. This was evident when listening to the conversations students had during the making of the bird feeders as they excitedly noted the importance of “more peanut butter” in order to attach “more birdseed!”

Why the Emphasis on E-STEAM?

Students are seen building bird houses as part of our school’s E-STEAM approach to daily education.

Students 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.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.  Our school takes it a step further by including entrepreneurship, arts and agriculture – E-STEAM.

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 ninth grade.

For many years, we have worked diligently to make our curriculum and campus a true E-STEAM environment. We teach students that the science, math, and technology skills that are essential for becoming 21st Century citizens are deeply integrated within the activities of entrepreneurship and agriculture, as well as language, music, and visual arts.

Our philosophy of education is built upon the idea that young learners need to be exposed to a broad array of rich learning experiences.  As students move into high school and beyond, they will begin to specialize in more specific interests. 

However, it will be the early broad-based education that assures the well-rounded, future-ready leaders and citizens who are the foundation of a healthy, productive, creative and sustainable Community of Learners.

An incredible team of educators brings this approach to our students on a daily basis, providing these young learners with the tools they need to succeed. 

Charter High School Expansion Bringing Top Notch Educators Home

As you know, our school is expanding to become a full kindergarten through twelfth grade school in the next four years. The upcoming 2021-22 school year will see the addition of ninth grade with tenth, eleventh, and twelfth being added each subsequent school year.

The school has recently added the impressive team of Steve and Debby Kurti to serve as educators and innovators for students both on campus and within our community as well as provide professional development and support to the school as a whole.

Steve grew up in Franklin, NC. He has a PhD in physics, is the owner of several federal patents, and loves to help teens and young adults discover their curiosity, develop skills, and find the value in learning new things.

Debby pursued graduate work in educational technology leadership at Pepperdine University.  For almost 25 years, she has taught everything from kindergarten to graduate school, as well as facilitated hundreds of professional development experiences for teachers. Debby has developed powerful learning strategies backed up by the best research and educational theory.

In 2013, Steve and Debby started a small education company dedicated to “developing REAL Innovators on Purpose”.  Every year since then, they have run an Innovation Tech Camp in Murphy at The Learning Center (except during the 2020/2021 COVID season).  They created summer tech camp programs, teen mentoring programs, and home school creative tech and science classes during the fall/spring semesters.  Their business has kept them mostly in their small town in southern California, but every summer they have taken their tech camps on the road across America (western NC, TN, GA, FL, Washington DC, WI, northern CA, and WA).

Steve is excited to see how applying new educational and technology ideas can prepare the school’s high school students for solid careers both pre- and post-college.  He will be working closely with teachers to create tech laboratories, practical tech experiences, and connections to local and regional businesses for students to explore. 

Debby will bring a strong focus on excellence in teaching and learning.  She will work closely with the already naturally-gifted TLC teachers to do “on purpose” what they have already been doing intuitively. Debby will bring her passion to help every classroom teacher become a catalyst for creativity and innovation. 

2nd Grade – STEM Storybook Tents

Second grade students made tents during “Storybook STEM” the last week of school. They were having a camping themed day and in addition to other fun camping related activities, that meant that students designed and built tents! Students read nature, camping, and outdoor adventure books as part of the fun activities as well.

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!

1st Grade PBL – All About Bugs

First grade students recently completed a PBL project that focused on bugs!

PBL stands for Project Based Learning and is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, complex question, problem, or challenge.

In Guided Reading, students read non-fiction books about the differences of insects and bugs. To apply what they learned, they each created clay insects to show the three segmented body parts (a head, thorax, and abdomen) of an insect.

As part of their writing lessons, the students worked on comparing and contrasting insects and bugs using a Venn Diagram.

Using topics that students are naturally interested in, like bugs, provides opportunities to use that subject matter across the curriculum and Ms. Katie was sure to do that!

Future Engineering Program

Starting in the 2021-22 school year, The Learning Center Charter School will be participating in the Amazon Future Engineer Program. This program provides resources and support to teachers and students in the field of computer science.

The school is expanding to include high school grades.  For the upcoming school year, ninth grade will be added.  Tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades will be added in each subsequent school year.

“The engineering program offered in partnership with Amazon will be a valuable tool we offer both our high school and middle school students,” said Ryan Bender, head of school.  Bender added that the partnership will allow teachers to introduce students to a variety of technological resources.

“This will allow us to introduce the basics of computer science including Scratch coding language,” said teacher Jessie Adams.  Adams is the current sixth – eighth grade science teacher. However, with the addition of ninth grade next school year, she will be the seventh-ninth grade science teacher.  Adams added that the curriculum provided through the partnership will also allow students to explore robotics, artificial intelligence, app development and more.

“We are excited that our middle and high school students will develop these skills and have amazing experiences like virtual visits with Amazon engineers, field trips to Amazon facilities, and ongoing opportunities for real-world experiences,” said Adams.