Recently I sat down with Ms. Debby to talk about the new salad bar option in our Dining Commons. This is what she had to say . . .
Normally I wouldn’t declare any new program a “success” so early in the year, but the response to our new daily salad bar has been so positive I think it is safe to say that it is a real hit.
Our salad bar includes lettuce (romaine at present, but it varies with the season and availability), various freshly prepared vegetables, a variety of protein sources such as cheese, chopped eggs, meats and beans, wheat crackers, croutons and several choices of individually portioned dressings. Students choosing the salad bar option also receive milk and fruit qualifying this as a complete meal for everyone whether or not the student qualifies for free or reduced meals.
The salad bar is available as a choice to students in grades 4-8. We have been delighted and a little bit surprised that so far more of these students are choosing the salad bar option than the hot option.
With our younger students we offer salad a little differently. Their hot meals are plated and served at their assigned tables. Tossed salad with dressing is available to them as an “extra” each day that the salad bar is offered to the upper grades. Our hope is that by making salad available to them daily, these younger ones will learn to consider greens an enjoyable part of a good meal.
Thanks Ms. Debby. You’ve got the best lunch in town!
The Learning Center! Charter School has added 3 new teachers and one new assistant this year, increasing their staff to an all-time high of forty two teachers and staff members. New this year are teachers Ashley Gibbs, Jamie Hill, Ashley Tate, and assistant, Gale Oliphant.
Ashley Gibbs, from New York, is a second grade teacher with a focus on language arts. She also works as an E.C. teacher. Ashley has a B.A. in elementary special education and a Masters in Literacy and is a Reading Specialist.
Jamie Hill hails from New York and serves as one of a team of 3 intervention teachers at the school. In addition to elementary certification, Jamie is presently completing a master program for Exceptional Children.
Gale Oliphant is an assistant with physical education after school activities and assists the intervention team. She comes to the school from Weaverville Primary in Weaverville, NC.
Ashley Tate teachers fourth grade and hails from Marion VA. In addition to elementary certification, Ashley holds a B.A. in English literature and a M.A. in Educational Psychology.
The dining commons staff was also increased to enable the school nutrition manager to continue to develop the Nutrition Based Learning Program that is unique to the school. School financial officer Patty Ferguson said the increase in staff was due in part to the increase in enrollment this year. “We are up 15% from last year and now serve 180 students,” said Ferguson. When asked to what she attributed the increase, she replied, “ I think its because we have a great program here like our strings program and Odyssey of the Mind. We also have a great reading intervention program and after school program. One of the big things that parents respond well to is the one-on-one attention our tailored curriculum affords their child.”
How many of you have been at a summer cookout and have been asked, “I know your kid goes to the charter school over there down from the pool. What exactly is a charter school anyway?” How about at Thanksgiving dinner when all your distant relatives are together? Doesn’t someone invariably ask you to tell them what makes a charter school different from other schools? I’ve even been asked by the check-out person at the grocery store when they see my kid’s school t-shirt.
a charter school is a school that receives public money (and like other schools, may also receive private donations) but are not subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school’s charter. Charter schools are opened and attended by choice. While charter schools provide an alternative to other public schools, they are part of the public education system and are not allowed to charge tuition.
Um. Well. Okay.
What are you going to tell Great Uncle Earl when he asks what a charter school is at your next holiday get together?
A charter school is a public school of choice. It is public. Public means no tuition. In other words, it’s free. And, you choose to go there.
A charter school offers innovation in education. A charter school has to meet the same state academic standards that every other school has to meet. However, the school itself decides how it’s going to achieve those standards.
Now you know.
So go forth and educate the world. Or at least your immediate community.
Students arriving early. Parents in tow. Bags of supplies. Smiling teachers. Nervous kindergartners. Traffic directors. Breakfast eaters. Board members. Volunteers. Running down boardwalks. Being reminded to walk. “How was your summer’s.” Welcoming back. Where do I go? Who will I know? Hey! I know you! Lunch time at last. Where is my backpack? Now where do I go? Parent meeting. Made a new friend. Cars here for pickup. Final bell rings.
I’ve been on campus with them and I can tell you there isn’t much they don’t do. I’ve seen furniture moving, computer installing, copying, stapling, cutting, sorting, vacuuming, meeting, talking, giggling, gardening and planning.
The Learning Center! Charter School is a proud recipient of both the “A+ Fit School” designation and a $7500 grant awarded by The North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund (HWTF). The HWTF announced the award of eight Fit Community designations and seven A+ Fit School designations to North Carolina municipalities, nonprofit organizations and schools. These designations recognize the work that has been done to promote physical activity, healthy eating and tobacco-free lifestyles through programs, policies and environmental changes at the school and community levels.
Of the seven schools that received the A+ Fit School designation in the state of North Carolina, The Learning Center! was one of only two that received both the designation and the A+ Fit School grant. Each designated school will receive a plaque, a school banner, and a $1,000 discretionary stipend. The Charter School will also receive $7,500 in grant funding over a period of one year. In addition to the grant funding provided by HWTF, each school receives technical assistance from East Carolina University’s Department of Health Education and Promotion.
“Community and school environments have a tremendous influence on individual health behaviors,” said Dr. Chuck Willson, HWTF chair. “These designees and grantees are clearly committed to fostering healthful changes in their communities and schools, and this is vital to the success of obesity prevention efforts and to improving the health of our population.”
“The Learning Center has operated from the basic premise that nutrition and overall wellness are big factors in academic performance.” said school director Mary Jo Dyre. “Our nutrition and exercise programs such as “Far Out Food Ventures” and “Walk and Talk Fitness Group” (which includes parents) builds an environment that promotes nutrition and wellness as strongly as we promote learning in core subject areas.”
Obesity has emerged as a major threat to children and adults across the United States and is particularly prevalent here in North Carolina. According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 61% of North Carolina adults are overweight or obese, with obesity-related expenses adding up to more than $2.1 billion annually. HWTF’s Fit Community and A+ Fit School programs support local efforts to address this growing problem.
“We are thrilled about the award.” said Dyre. “I got a personal call and it was emphasized that the Health and Wellness commissioners were very impressed with all that our school is doing.”