Film Set on Campus as DotCom Therapy Films Commercial

On April 29 and 30, 2021, a corner of a classroom on the campus of The Learning Center Charter School was turned into a film set as the school hosted DotCom Therapy for a video commercial shoot.

DotCom Therapy partners with schools, health systems, health plans, communities and families to provide speech, behavioral, and occupational therapy.  The school has used their services for two years to provide in-school speech and occupational therapy as well as mental health counseling services.

“As a school we are not able to hire full time speech and occupational therapists and finding DotCom Therapy has allowed us to offer highly trained, board-certified therapists to our students both effectively and consistently,” said Head of School, Ryan Bender.

Bender added that the school partnered with DotCom Therapy last summer to provide four mental health jam sessions that were available to the community at large. The sessions were conducted via Zoom and free to anyone to attend. Topics included ways of coping with the stress of the pandemic as well as ideas of what to do with children stuck at home during the time.

“Our partnership with DotCom Therapy has benefitted our students immensely and we were happy to host them onsite as they shot a commercial that they will ultimately use on their website and social media,” said Bender.

Photographer Capturing Story of Our School

The story of The Learning Center Charter School captured the attention of Atlanta based documentary photographer Chris Aluka-Berry and he visited the school on March 29.

Aluka-Berry is a storytelling photographer that grew up in a biracial family in a small rural South Carolina town. For the past four years he has documented life in southern Appalachia in an effort to bring awareness to “Affrilachia” – a term that refers to people of African American heritage who are native to, or live in, the Appalachian Mountains.  

Aluka-Berry is a regular contributor to European PressPhoto Agency and Thomson Reuters News Agency. Berry teaches photography at Pace Academy in Atlanta and works with non-profits and corporations to tell their story.

His work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and he has worked for the Coca-Cola Company, the Home Depot Foundation, Chik-Fil-A, and more. However, it’s storytelling that is Aluka-Berry’s passion.

“Being a small charter school in rural Appalachia, we were thrilled to be able to work with such a talented photographer as Chris,” said Blu Sky Project Development Director, Mary Jo Dyre. “We serve a diverse set of Appalachian students in our small mountain town and look forward to seeing the story that he captured through his lens as we add value to larger and larger audiences through the unfolding of the Blu Sky Programs and Facility Development Plan.”

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.

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!

Scenes From Our 5th Annual School Maker Faire

The Learning Center Charter School celebrated making of all kinds at our 5th annual School Maker Faire on Thursday, March 12 from 3:30 – 6:30. Imagine a science fair, craft show, tech conference, and county fair, all rolled into one and you can picture a School Maker Faire.

Makers – from Learning Center students to community members – had booths featuring their own unique Maker project. There were hands-on activities, demonstrations, and delicious homemade food.

A special thank you to our wonderful community of Makers that made this event possible. The School Maker Faire proved to be an inspiring and educational evening for everyone who attended.

Don’t Forget: School Maker Faire is Thursday!

We hope you plan to attend. There will be Makers of all sorts on campus demonstrating and sharing what they make. Additionally, there will be spaghetti dinner for sale as a fundraiser for upper grade class trips. It will be fun, educational, and delicious! See you Thursday!

The Learning Center awarded TVA STEM Education Grant

The TVA and local partner, Murphy Power Board, presented a $3,500 grant award to The Learning Center Charter School on February 4, 2020.

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.”

For additional information about the TVA STEM grants and see a full list of recipients visit https://www.tva.gov/Newsroom/Press-Releases/TVA-Partnership-Awards-600000-in-STEM-

Calling All Makers for Our 5th Annual SCHOOL MAKER FAIRE March 12th

Last year’s School Maker Faire featured over 75 makers from across the community at The Learning Center Charter School.

The Learning Center Charter School is celebrating making of all kinds at their 5th annual School Maker Faire on Thursday, March 12 from 3:30 – 6:30.

Maker Faire, an official brand and trademark for this worldwide phenomenon, is a celebration of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. It’s a place to show what you’ve made and to share what you’ve learned with others.  Schools host Maker Faires because they are a perfect combination of part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new. School Maker Faire exhibitors, or “makers,” are primarily students—either as individuals, clubs, classes or groups. And Maker Faire exhibits can be from any discipline — from science to art to gardening to engineering to craft.

Makers within the community are invited to have booths featuring their own unique Maker projects.

Additionally, there will be hands-on activities, demonstrations, and delicious food available for purchase.  Students in 4th-8th grade will be selling spaghetti dinner tickets  to raise funds for their respective class trips.

Ryan Bender, organizer for the School Maker Faire, said “People in our community are inherently curious and creative. Given the space and opportunity to build and create, they do and we invite you to come out to witness the awesome things they make!”

Bender added that having makers from the community sharing and interacting with the young people make the event truly special.

The Learning Center is an official host of the fifth annual School Maker Faire open to the Murphy area and is looking for Makers to join the festivities. The event will be held at the school on Thursday, March 12th, from 3:30 – 6:30 pm. Visit www.naturallygrownkids.org/school-maker-faire to learn more and sign up to be part of this event.