More on Lego Mindstorms

The Learning Center! students are often asked to “think outside the box” when taking many of their classes and “Lego Mindstorms” is no exception. In its third year as an elective course at the school, Lego Mindstorms encourages creativity such as “thinking like an engineer” while working with Legos. The class objective is to create a robotic vehicle and will introduce the programming of that robot’s movements on the computer using special software and hardware. The final project will be to create a robotic vehicle that moves around the classroom based on the program the student have developed.

Ms. Christy, teacher for this elective says “Teamwork is a must!”  The students worked in groups to build a robotic vehicle and programmed it on the computer using Lego Mindstorms software.  “I enjoyed watching the trial and error period,” said Ms. Christy. “Especially when they tested to see how far the vehicle would run and where they needed to “tweak” their measurements.”  Ms. Christy was very excited when one of the groups had programmed their vehicle to make turns and stay on the sidewalk all the way to another classroom building.  The students met from 1:45 – 2:55 every Friday to work on their projects.

Relay for Life

Once again The Learning Center! will be participating in RELAY FOR LIFE.   Your sponsorship of this event will help to provide continued services to the people of Cherokee County, educating our community about the causes and treatments of cancer and also help to find a cure.

This event will take place on May 20th & 21st, 2011, at Konehete Park in Murphy.  The highlight of the Relay, the Survivor/Caregiver lap, will begin at 7:00 p.m.  Our school will participate by trying to raise funds. Luminaria forms are available online and will also be sent home in your student’s planner for you to fill out if you would like to honor a family or friend OR just to help raise money for this event.

Our suggestion for raising money for this event is “Dime at a Time”.

Each class will have an empty water bottle which they can fill with dimes. Every little bit helps; no donation is too small or too big.

Don’t have time to bring in your donation?  Log on and do it from home!

Here is the link that goes directly to The Learning Center! Team.

Good Character Today: Good Citizens Tomorrow

Ms. Cheryl recognizes an honest student.

How often did you hear, “Honesty is the best policy” when you were growing up? Students at The Learning Center! Charter School are learning about honesty and other traits that define good character. The idea is to teach good character today to build good citizens of tomorrow– and live it at the same time. The school-wide Character Education program, directed by teacher Cheryl Catuto, focuses on one character trait each month. Catuto, who is also Research and Curriculum Coordinator for the school, created grade specific lessons and activities for all the teachers to use in the classrooms. “At the end of the month,” said Catuto, “we give out a special VIP award for the particular trait.” Each month, a different character topic is emphasized: responsibility, respect, citizenship, honesty, cooperation, caring, fairness, forgiveness and integrity. It is reinforced by each teacher throughout the month, as well as in electives, lunch and PE. “That is the beauty of the whole school focusing on the same trait,” said Catuto, “all the staff can encourage good character.”

Teachers help the students understand the character trait and then revisit them throughout the month. The teachers also refer back to the traits that have been previously covered. They may remind them to be responsible to turn in their work or respect each other. For example, the unit on “honesty” mentioned telling the truth even when it’s difficult. “One student found a credit card on campus that belonged to a visitor of the school, said Catuto, “he turned it in to the office.”  That student was awarded VIP Citizenship for Honesty.

In the upper grades, Character Education is introduced in homeroom or in “Middle REAL,” a middle school entrepreneurship program where teachers take a more in depth look. In Middle REAL, students focused on Citizenship and how students are part of our community, making our home, school and neighborhood a better place.

Fourth grade recently learned first hand about cooperation and their work is displayed on the bulletin board in their class.

Each month, a student is elected “VIP” for Citizenship, which is announced at lunch by director of the school, Mary Jo Dyre.  She emphasizes during her announcements how these students show great character. “We are a Community of Learners,” said Dyre. “Part of being a good citizen within that community are the social and character lessons that are emphasized as much as academics.”

The VIP awards are then sent home for the parents to see. The award winners are also in the office on the bulletin board.

Lego Mindstorms

At least once a school year Ms. Christy offers the Lego Mindstorms elective for students in fifth through eighth grades.  This year was no exception.  I was lucky enough to be around much of the construction of these Lego machines and saw them in action.  Grasping things with pincher claws, moving both forward and backward and even launching balls into the air, the things these students made with Legos was impressive.

More about National School Choice Week

This week, local charter school, The Learning Center! will play a role as local advocate in a nationwide awareness campaign by “National School Choice Week” (NSCW) supporters. The campaign takes place from January 23 – 29, 2011.

According to the NSCW website, The Learning Center! Charter School is listed among dozens of high profile organizers, charter schools and supporters that promote choice in education to provide options, flexibility to motivate students as well as allow parents to choose the school that is best for their child. Some of these supporters listed along with the school are: The Center for Education Reform, The American Federation for Children, Alliance for School Choice, The Heritage Foundation, Education Reform Now, and National Alliance for Public Charter Schools to name just a few.

“We believe our students deserve the best education in the world.” said Dana Bolyard, Social Media Director & Charter Advocate for The Learning Center. “That’s why we are adding our support to the first-ever, nationwide call for effective education options for every child – National School Choice Week.”

During the week, thousands of school choice advocates, teachers, students, organizations and leaders will gather all across the country to build public support for school choice so that more children can benefit from the promise of educational equality. “We have sent out informational letters to our parents and asked them to join the campaign on the NSCW website, as well as follow our school’s blog for highlights and information during the week.” said Bolyard.

Political analyst and former Clinton advisor, Dick Morris is also a big supporter of school choice. “I think the education system in the next 24 months will change completely in the United States in the direction of school choice.” Morris believes; “one size does not fit all and (I) believe families deserve choices.” A TV ad recently launched by NSCW raises awareness about our failing public education system and encourages people across the country to get involved and make their voices be heard.

In the past two years, charter schools have come into the spotlight in the school choice issue. In 2009, President Obama issued a proclamation recognizing public charter schools for their “…dedication and commitment to achievement in education. They are models of excellence and are promoting the interests of our children, our economy and our nation as a whole.” The proclamation calls on states and communities to support public charter schools and the students they serve. More buzz was created regarding school choice after the 2010 release of “Waiting for Superman,” a documentary film by “An Inconvenient Truth” director, Davis Guggenheim. The film analyzes the failures of public education by following several students through the educational system.

The Learning Center! was one of the first of 34 charter schools to open its doors in 1997 when charter legislation was passed in North Carolina. Director Mary Jo Dyre has always felt strongly that healthy, vibrant communities must offer school choice to its public. Over the past few years as The Learning Center! has seen an increase in enrollment of more than 25 percent, Dyre continues to be grateful that The Learning Center! is part of a community that places a high value on choice in education.