Lunch Procedure Improvements

Covid-19 changed the way food was served at The Learning Center Charter School for the first part of the 2020-21 school year. However, the school has made improvements that mean students will see a return to more of what they are used to for the remainder of the year.

The charter school serves breakfast and lunch to approximately 200 students daily.  Prior to the pandemic restrictions, food was served via a serving line that offered both hot and cold options.

“The serving line will continue to work similarly to how it has in past years with a few changes,” said Hilary Ehlers, Nutrition Director at the school.

Ehlers explained that meals are served off the hot bar all while keeping social distancing in place.  Students and staff are separated by Plexiglas windows across the entire hot bar.  At the end of the line students receive their meal through a window in the Plexiglas.  Before being served their milk of choice at the beginning of the line, students must sanitize their hands.  Then one by one students receive their meals.  Markers are placed on the floor to help students visualize the six foot distance they need to space between one another.  The meals are packaged in a to go box and are taken back to the classroom to eat. 

“Students will still receive the amazing and nutritious food as they have in past school years. Plus, our friendly nutrition staff will still be there to greet each student and ask about their day and give students a sense of normalcy at school again,” said Ehlers.

New menu items have been added including catfish po-boy sandwiches and chicken and cheese quesadillas.  “Healthy food doesn’t have to come at the expense of great flavor,” said Ehlers.

Charter School Extends Free School Meals

The Learning Center Charter School Nutrition Department is excited to announce that the USDA has extended the summer free school meals waivers through the 2020-2021 school year.

The extension of the summer feeding waivers not only allows all students to eat school meals at no charge, but they also help ensure that nutrition programs have flexibility and adaptability when it comes to meal service during unanticipated closures.

The charter school nutrition program will continue to offer families that have elected complete virtual learning the option to do curbside pick-up of meals.

“It remains critical our students continue to receive healthy and nutritious food as our community continues to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Hilary Ehlers, Child Nutrition Director at the school.  

Ehlers added that the waiver extension allows her team to focus on nourishing hungry children for success, rather than scrambling to process paperwork and verify eligibility in the midst of a pandemic.

“We are happy to see more and more of our students’ smiling faces during the lunch time as well as at curbside pick-up,” said Ehlers.

Ehlers added, “We would like to give a very special thank you to Dr. Lynn Harvey, Director of School Nutrition and District Operations for North Carolina, for all of her hard work in making sure these extensions and free meals to all children became a reality.”

Tips to Keep Your Kids Active During the Pandemic

Mr. Sean has some tips to help keep your kids active during this time of increased dependence on technology. Plus, as the weather starts to cool, it’s easy for kids to stay inside on their screens. Use these tips to keep those kids moving, burn off excess energy, and keep an active lifestyle!

New Safety Protocols at TLC

The 2020-21 school year kicked off this week and The Learning Center Charter School introduced enhanced safety and sanitation procedures, social distancing measures, and school day schedules.

Unlike prior years, students now enter at the front of the school where they have their temperature checked daily.  They are also asked a series of Covid-19 related questions and if necessary, will be sent home and encouraged to visit their primary care physician to get tested for the virus.

Masks are worn by all people on the campus at all times.

The school grounds have been marked with red bear paw symbols that are six feet apart. Desks in classrooms are six feet apart.  Indoors, there are stickers and arrows that help visualize distancing.

Each classroom has a sanitizing station at each entry point. This station includes hand sanitizer, tissue, and trash can.

“This summer we built a new wellness triage area in the back portion of our Dining Commons building,” said Ryan Bender, head of school. “When a student or staff member is not feeling well, they are sent immediately to that triage area. “One thing is for sure for this school year,” said Bender. “We must remain flexible and adaptable in all aspects in order to keep our students and community healthy and safe.”

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.

Daily Walking Program in 2nd Year

The National Center for Safe Routes to School is the coordinating organization for Walk to School Day held every October and Bike to School Day held each May. These events are used to encourage families to celebrate the benefits of walking and biking and to increase local leader commitment and visibility for traffic safety and community quality of life.

However, staff at the charter school opted to take this program farther than just a one day event each semester. Instead, they instituted a daily walking program for all students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Head of school, Ryan Bender, said “We want to promote a healthy and active lifestyle for students, staff and parents.”  He added that starting each day with exercise is a great way to stimulate the brain and get it prepared to learn during school.  Also, by offering incentives to participate in the morning walk, the school has seen a reduction in the number of students arriving tardy to class each day.

Each morning students walk. If the weather is good, students walk a safe path on campus. If it is raining or below 35 degrees, students complete their walk in the Gymnatorium.

“The first year of our walking program was a success in the way of fitness, attendance, class attentiveness and team building and we are thrilled to be continuing the daily walking program for a second year,” said Bender.

Want to know more about our daily walking program or about the emphasis on physical activity at our school? Fill out the form and we’ll get back to you.

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Farm to School Produce at The Learning Center Charter School

Offering well prepared, healthy food that nourishes students is a cornerstone of the educational environment at The Learning Center Charter School.  Using locally grown produce is icing on the cake.

The charter school is part of the NC Farm to School program which affords the school ample opportunity and access to healthy North Carolina produce.

The NC Farm to School program is run through the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Food Distribution.  During the 2011-12 school year, the NC Farm to School program delivered over one million dollars worth of NC produce to NC schools, reaching 1,003,921 students in 1,599 schools.

NC Farm to School gives North Carolina farms a viable market for their crops while providing schools a local source of fresh, seasonal produce.  Produce includes watermelons, cantaloupes, tomatoes, apples, cucumbers, red potatoes, grape tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, romaine lettuce, apple slices, collards, sweet potatoes, strawberries, squash, zucchini and blueberries.

Hilary Ehlers, Child Nutrition Director at the school, said, “The Farm to School program not only provides easy access to foods grown locally but also opportunities for agriculture, nutrition and health education.”

Ehlers added that when a student makes the connection between agriculture and food, they realize that food comes from a farmer and not magically from the grocery store.   

“Nutrition education is a key part of our mission at our school,” said Ehlers. “Our students tend vegetable gardens on campus and the produce we buy from local farmers through this program reinforces the lessons we teach daily.”

Want to know more about the nutrition program at The Learning Center Charter School? Fill out the form below and we will get in touch with you!

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National Bike or Walk to School Day

May 8th was National Bike to School Day.  Communities across the country celebrated the day and took the time to focus on health and safety.

Our students have been participating in a year long walking program that started in conjunction with the National Center for Safe Routes to School as part of the National Walk to School Day held in October.

Established in May 2006, the National Center for Safe Routes to School, part of the University of North Carolina (UNC) Highway Safety Research Center, helps support communities in changing their culture to support safe and active travel. The National Center’s work uses research-based evidence to highlight what works and why, and translates this research into education, professional development tools and training to provide communities the technical support they need to make community-enhancing decisions. As the coordinating organization for Walk to School Day held every October and Bike to School Day held each May, the National Center provides technical support; coordinates online registration, develops resources, and facilitates worldwide promotion and participation. The UNC Highway Safety Research Center has served as the coordinator of Walk to School Day since the event’s U.S. inception in 1997.

In addition to their regular morning walk, TLC students celebrated by picking up trash and debris around campus. Plus, students made signs encouraging both walking and safety.

Daily Walking Program

Students at The Learning Center Charter School have been walking their way to fitness this school year as part of a program from the National Center for Safe Routes to School.

The National Center for Safe Routes to School is the coordinating organization for Walk to School Day held every October and Bike to School Day held each May. These events are used to encourage families to celebrate the benefits of walking and biking and to increase local leader commitment and visibility for traffic safety and community quality of life.

However, staff at the charter school opted to take this program farther than just a one day event each semester. Instead, they instituted a daily walking program for all students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

School physical education coordinator, Cheryl Catuto, explained that they decided to create the walking program for several reasons. “We want to promote a healthy and active lifestyle for students, staff and parents,” said Catuto.  She added that starting each day with exercise is a great way to stimulate the brain and get it prepared to learn during school.  Also, by offering incentives to participate in the morning walk, the school has seen a reduction in the number of students arriving tardy to class each day.

Each morning students walk. If the weather is good, students walk a safe path on campus. If it is raining or below 35 degrees, students complete their walk in the Gymnatorium.

Sean Bain, physical education assistant, keeps statistics on the number of walkers and the percentage of each class that is walking each day.  He uses these stats to not only encourage participation but also to help the staff best determine what incentives to provide for the students.  Bain says that they have about 100 walkers every day.