Franklin School of Innovation Wins Education Grant

franklin school of innovation

So many wonderful things are happening behind the scenes with education in Western North Carolina. Charter schools are opening up all around town, joining many already successful establishments. These buildings and rooms are filled with great folks and families, education and creativity, and a chance to improve schooling on a whole new level. Check out this great news from the Franklin School of Innovation:

Congressman Mark Meadows will visit the Franklin School of Innovation at their temporary location at 104 Peachtree Road, South Asheville on Thursday, October 9, 2014, at 1pm to announce the grant.

Thursday, October 9, 2014Asheville’s new Expeditionary Learning Middle & High School is one of 16 national winners of a Charter School Education Grant.  Franklin was awarded $194,000 from the U.S. Department of Education and is the only recipient in the state of North Carolina.  The school was chosen for its efforts in a number of areas, including the promotion of student diversity, professional learning activities, and community support.

Michelle Vruwink, Franklin’s primary founder and Executive Director was the lead author on the grant.  “I’m thrilled at the news of financial support for our vision,” Vruwink said. “For a start up school in the current school budget climate, this grant gives us resources that we couldn’t otherwise afford. This allows us to focus on developing the Expeditionary Learning model, supporting teacher’s professional growth, and improving instruction in our classrooms.”

Congressman Mark Meadows’ office called the school with the news and sent a letter of congratulations, applauding Franklin’s efforts to seek a student body diversified by socioeconomic status, ethnicity and learning differences. Meadows is scheduled to visit the school on Thursday.

“The competition is fierce, “ noted Joel Medley, Director of the NC Office of Charter Schools, “It speaks a great deal to Franklin’s effort, commitment, and strategy to have received the Charter School Program funds.”  

Board Chair, Danielle Moser says the ongoing support of the Glass Foundation contributed to the school winning the large federal grant. The Foundation purchased 13+ acres in Enka which is under construction as the school’s permanent site.

Media:  If you would like to attend Congressman Meadow’s visit to Franklin on Thursday, Contact: Danielle Moser   828-329-4623 or email dmoser@thefsi.us




Child’s Play

I was more nervous than I thought I’d be when Loura McRae, the owner of All God’s Children Child Enrichment Center, asked me to speak about my job to a group of children. First of all, there was the age range; 5-10 year olds. How was I supposed to get a 5 year old excited about writing when she can only spell a couple words? How was I supposed to convince a 10 year old at summer camp that writing is fun, and this isn’t like school?

I thought back to my beginnings…the age old question I’m always asked, “Lorna, when did you start writing?”

“Always,” I answer, “I wrote before I even knew how to hold a pen.”

I realized I wasn’t going to convince these kids of anything. My original plan was to go in and have them co-write a story with me. I’d start them off, and we’d all add events until we had a finished product. Then I stopped and thought…that is just a writing activity. Yes, I’d be asking them to use their imaginations, but on something I prompted. It was an assignment. That would never inspire them; it would have been a task with a beginning and end, and would never linger once I left the room. It would be about something I asked them to do instead of something they discovered on their own. I had a real shot to introduce these kids to expresssion, and had to be careful not to make a lesson of it.

I started by asking them their likes and dislikes…movies, books, video games, activities, and showed them how without writers who chase the things that run through their heads to write them down, we wouldn’t have any of it. I then asked them what they know about some place they’d never been…another city or country, and opened their eyes to how writing, voice, opinion, and personality connects us to the things we haven’t even experienced.

I let them know writing has no limits at all, and it isn’tabout a pen and paper or computer. It is about creating and experiencing, and making it so other people can too. It is communicating humanity. It’s art. Writers give legs to the lame, vision to the blind, and music to the deaf.

All I knew to do was share my passion with them, and that’s what I did. I started telling them about blogging about a hot air balloon ride on a magical morning, and how the words came when I simply imagined myself there again, letting the experience speak for me. They started telling me things they had seen and felt, and what they’d been reminded of in certain experiences. They were so excited, and they were writing to me already!

I then read them an unpublished manuscript of mine based on a fairy hunt I created to stop a friend’s daughter from crying after a bee sting. I explained how a fairy tale was born from just reflecting on something that really happened. I could see little light bulbs flashing on in their eyes…they were thinking up things like this of their own.

When I passed out journals I’d made for them, they couldn’t wait to fill them with the stories and ideas that were starting to generate. They loved that it was not to turn in and no one had to ever see it. The younger children were excited to learn they could even draw their stories, or simply tell them to anyone who’ll listen.

These kids were fired up when I left, and the warm reception I experienced at All God’s Children was definitely soup for my writer’s soul. It gave me a chance to remember the early days when I was writing just to get it out, because something was that exciting to me. That’s how it should always be. Writing isn’t sentences, grammar, or impressing people. It’s making connections with anything and everything outside the words that become the sweetest deliverence. Just connections…that’s it…child’s play.

The smiling faces at All God's Children with their journals!  They even let me photo-bomb :)

The smiling faces at All God’s Children with their journals! They even let me photo-bomb 🙂

Stay tuned for one of these children’s stories to be featured on askasheville.com this August!

Also contact Loura McRae at 828-515-0661 for more information on child care! She’s awesome!




The Grander Roar

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I pulled up to 265 Charlotte Street this past Friday night. I knew a little bit about the building, a little bit about the event, and an even littler bit about the hosting organization. I blushingly admit I was skeptical about the “Diamond Ball.”  I was coming in as an outsider to a soirĂ©e thrown by a very reputable league, sponsored by a patriarchal business that has perhaps the strongest back bone in Asheville, even surviving the Great Depression.  The Junior League of Asheville was founded in 1925, and Wick and Greene Jewelers in 1926.  The two have been leaders in the community, often rubbing elbows, and taking charitable journeys together ever since.  I knew I was entering a world of great successes Friday night, but also a world of strong community presences that reach back decades.  Truth be told, I was nervous.  However, I’m always looking for a reason to discover…and to wear a pretty dress, of course, so I went.

The writer in me took in the atmosphere first: the smells, the sounds, the ambiance.  I got the warm fuzzies immediately.  My high heel shoes clicked delightfully against the hardwoods that I knew had experienced history itself traipsing all over them.  I could tell already that this was a building that knew things.  The Manor Inn served as an upscale resort in the early twentieth century during Asheville’s wellness heyday.  Naturally, dwarfed in size by the nearby Grove Park Inn, this building had much to prove…which it did.  Architects from across the country added bits of flavor to the structure that ultimately took on a tudoresque and colonial revivalist feel.  Surrounding cottages followed suit, and so did Asheville.  Buildings all over downtown would idolize such architectural tastes and make for a beautiful “lost generation” stomping ground. 

I felt like I opened the front door to this magical place Friday night and became whisked right into that roaring era that no one can seem to forget.  I was surrounded by newsboy hats, flapper’s dresses, sequined headbands, and vibrant bow ties.  I could hear big band music in the back, but with a fiddle player touting a specific style that reminded me I was in The South indeed. A genuinely-dressed flapper carried the sought after single-carat, 15,000 dollar diamond around for all to admire (donated to be raffled by Wick and Greene Jewelers).  It took about fourteen seconds for me to realize these women could throw a par-tay.

I’m a huge advocate of the idea of “work hard and play hard”.  I think people who give such large amounts of their lives and energies to charity and voluntarism should know how to have a ball, and do so with the community who supports them.  I just wasn’t sold yet.  I wanted to know how I would be received in this prestigious group, and I wanted to get to know these women on a more personal level.  I was by no means trying to hold them under a microscope, yet human nature left me slightly guilty of doing so.

I set out to meet Keri Wilson, the Asheville chapter’s president.  I thought I would have to ask around and seek her out.  I pictured her to be surrounded by important people, finding it difficult to get away.  However, I would soon find out that the bubbly brunette who ushered me in with a smile not even an Oscar winner could fake would turn out to be her.  I’d never gotten such a warm greeting.  She was eager to welcome me in personally, as well as the askasheville organization.  She directed me where to find food and beverages, without forgetting to give Wick and Greene jewelers a chorus of praise for all they’d done. She was the first representation of the Junior League I’d ever encountered and the impression was a breath of fresh air. I wanted to meet more of these women.

junior league asheville diamond ball

 A group of J.L. members with the diamond courtesy of Wick and Greene Jewelers (Keri Wilson, president on far left)

After mingling a bit I came across J.L. member, Melissa Kledis.  This charismatic woman had a huge energy about her that lured me in quickly.  After talking for a few minutes I learned that this Edward Jones advisor, school volunteer, wife, and mother of three was one of the co-chairs of the event.  I had trouble imagining how such an incredibly busy woman had so much stamina left in her, but I realized after talking with her it was because she believed in every single thing she did.  In that ten to fifteen minutes we talked, she spoke passionately about her job, her children, her wonderful husband, the terrific family she had married into (who introduced her to the league), and the tremendous opportunities to serve her community she would not have had without the Junior League.  This woman’s busy schedule truly was her reward, and I could see her wearing it as plainly as the feathers in her hair.  This woman felt empowered by her efforts, but was focused most on empowering others.

melissak  Melissa Kledis and her husband.

By the end of the night I sat thinking in a beautiful wing-backed chair by the door.  I could feel the air conditioning getting fresh with my leg from the antiquated vent beneath me.  I noted the air conditioner had a certain smell, like the one in the house I grew up in, which was coincidentally was built circa 1920.  I felt so at ease now, with the skepticism erased, and a sense of community embracing me.  I’d had a magical night escaping to my favorite era, but the bigger roar came from within the passions of the incredible women I had the pleasure of meeting.  The Junior League’s Mission Statement reads, ” “The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI) is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.”  I found it to be more than accurate.

I will gladly support The Junior League of Asheville in any way I can.  Their current missions have focused on helping those falling below the poverty line, which in today’s economy is far too many.  Most days it is people in need that these women care about becoming important to.  They have been working closely with the Homeward Bound project to put an end to homelessness in the Asheville area.  They have also been cooperating with the ABCCM and Children First organizations.  When the community supports the Junior League at fundraisers like the Diamond Ball they are really supporting the faces they see everyday, and making far-reaching contributions to those who need it most.  These are the fruits of the grander roar these women create every day.

For more information on the Junior League of Asheville, please visit http://www.juniorleagueasheville.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Join the Asheville Community Content Team

We are putting together a Community Content Team for the new AskAsheville website and blog that we are launching in a few weeks. A team of 10 is already in place, but we are looking for more people who would like to contribute and share information about a variety of topics. Sections of the new site include News, Women, Beer, Food, Wine, Hotels, Photos, Videos, Business, Events, Music, Entertainment, Neighboring Towns and much more. We are interested in getting a great diversity of contributors that will share Asheville from their “point of view” on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

You may be a Writer or Blogger in the WNC area that would like to post a weekly story to AskAsheville. Maybe you are a Photographer or Videographer in the community that wants to share a photo or some videos each week with a quick description on the blog. You may be a marketer and have a few clients or business connections that you would like to write about on a monthly basis. Or maybe you just like to go out and eat, drink, tour, dance, shop and have a good time; and you want to start documenting the experiences, making them count more, and building a portfolio of your work. You post it… and we distribute it online through our social media audiences which reach so many focused on the Asheville area.

Team meetings (online & offline) and full support will be offered including educational opportunities for you to teach your area of expertise, and learn from other teammates. We are implementing a mentorship and internship program as well, so if there is an area of media that you would like to learn more about or improve on; we can help you with training. We can also assist you with credit and a certificate for the work you complete. This could mean extra-credit for you in College and this will give you more credibility to potential employers and clients.

Building a community takes a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Some of you, some of me, some of all of us. Can you write 200 words per month or per week about something that pertains to Asheville NC? Can you provide one featured photo per week or month with 25 word description? Can you draw a weekly or monthly cartoon? Maybe you want to do an Asheville Short Story series? We’ve got your back! We will feature you on our new website, link to you, promote you and your content, and the whole team will support you. We invite you to apply to be on our Asheville Community Content Team.

Contact AskAsheville




Phoenix University in Asheville NC

There are now several options for a University in Asheville NC. The University of Phoenix has a learning center in Biltmore Park Town Square which offers a great curriculum. You can come to class in person, or attend the “Online Campus.” The Degrees they offer are an Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree.

The University of Phoenix has many programs including Arts & Science, Business and Management, Criminal Justice and Security, Education, Human Services, Nursing and Health Care, Psychology, and Technology.

You can stop by the school, see what they have to offer, and take a tour. Their hours are 9am – 8pm Monday – Thursday, and 9am – 5pm on Friday.

30 Town Square Boulevard Suite 220, Asheville NC 28803-5007
Phone: 828.654.1000, Toll-Free: 866.650.0809