As requested, I am more than happy to share landmark historical "shorts" that help you, the readers, to take in what is proving to be a long-running Learning Center history with a "no-limits Blu Sky" future in the making.
Private School Years: 1983-1997
Charter School Years: 1997- present: The Charter School Act of North Carolina was ratified in 1996. A cap for 100 charters was set at that time. Thirty-four charter schools opened for the landmark 1997-1998 school year. Our school holds the distinction of being one of the first 34 North Carolina Public Charter Schools. As a private conversion charter, The Learning Center officially transformed into The Learning Center Charter School.
The group of parents and educators who had worked through the successful charter application process were motivated by the idea that becoming a public charter school would remove the tuition barrier to school choice for a geographical area that remains to this day an economically challenged region. The founding team of charter educators was eager to learn all that we could about traditional public school expectations and standards. We stayed equally committed to the basic concept of students engaged in meaningful work that meets every learner with the expectation of growth. Teachers as facilitators continued as our ideal. Instruction continued to be designed for a diverse population of learners.
Charter budgets initially seemed "grand" compared to the very low or "no" tuition of our small private school fighting to keep its doors open in the limited economic conditions of our rural, Appalachian mountain community. We soon realized that the need for more budget had not necessarily disappeared as we moved into the world of charter schools. Our bottom line made it clear there was very little money left for the extras.
The "What if?" pushed us forward, just as it had in the private school years. "What if" we found ways to grow parent and community support? "What if" we learned more about grant writing? Learning on the run, we took baby steps toward understanding federal monies, the possibilities of a school nutrition program, how to manage an effective Exceptional Children's program and so much more.
With much to learn, just as we expected of our students, we asked plenty of questions. Always, we found the answers to mix with our grit and determination as we pushed onward with forward momentum. In those early years of our charter history, although we did not fully take in what we were doing, we were in many ways writing The Future FOR Education.