BLU SKY INITIATIVE
Whole Child to Whole Community
Our beliefs are the architects of our results.
-The Ultimate Entrepreneurship Success Strategy by Christian T.J. Simpson
Support and sustain community transformation.
Teach. Reach. Develop. Enhance. Model.
Architect + Educator:
December 2016 brought James Hanis, NCARB certified architect, to The Learning Center Charter School campus. Within 24 hours of his initial visit, a meeting took place with Mary Jo Dyre, career-educator, founder and then Executive Director of The Learning Center. A series of inquiries and collective conversations captured the imaginations of both architect and educator. An unstoppable vision emerged: new and expanded life for The Learning Center Charter School.
Architect + Artist:
2017-2019 found a team of dedicated staff members working with the Architect + Educator to capture the essentials of facility design needed to carry out The Learning Center approach to education. Imagination fueled the project. Hanis affirmed his pro bono services to the Blu Sky Observatory Facility Replacement Project as he insisted that we abandon the long history of financial lack and limitation to embrace the sense of possibility for education that his design skills brought to our school culture. As Hanis left for a year in Paris with a Disney Imagineering project, some of us recognized we were realistically engaged in an innovative facility design project (Blu Sky Observatory) that would drive education reform into 21st century and beyond.
Educator + Team DvG:
2020 initially focused on the professional development needed to successfully run a major capital campaign. By late March 2020, Dyre began to take in Covid’s impact on education. A worldwide health crisis could impact capital campaign training and the concept of meeting with prospective donors in the midst of a shifting economy. Problem-based learning was a familiar term in Dyre’s world of education. Covid provided the opportunity to find solutions in new and different ways. Communication anytime and with people anywhere became a reality in our virtual world. By February 2021, Team DvG, a think-tank core committee was formed. Many ask what DvG stands for: David versus Goliath. Yes, there was no question we were going up against a giant of change in how education needed to unfold within innovative facility space. Our success, at least in these early, very challenging days, has relied on resources and determination that are comparable to the sling shot and pebbles used in David’s most memorable battle.
= Blu Sky Initiative:
The powerful combination of Open education, Arts and Public Health, and Neighborhood Living place the mission and goals of the Blu Sky Initiative at the forefront of change and innovation in education and community transformation. As of June 2022, Blu Sky Initiative announced the dedication to building a for-profit, social entrepreneurship focus as a public private partnership dedicated to "doing good while doing well." As of July 2022, Blu Sky Initiative entered a Memorandum of Understanding as a public, private partner with Andrews Valley Initiative (AVI), a longstanding non-profit based in Andrews, NC.
Roots and legacy drive my approach to business and the social entrepreneurship commitment to community transformation. My heart strings tug toward rural and underserved. A native Mississippian, born in 1952, in the backwoods area of Sibleton and Poplar Creek near Kilmichael, MS; to the red dirt I continued to play in as my family moved to Gore Springs/Grenada, MS; to the small teachers’ college I chose along with my first teaching job, both located in the heart of the dark-soiled land known as the Delta, so washed by the Mississippi River; to my present home in the Appalachian mountain region of far-western North Carolina, all have built in me a treasured, naturally grown sense of place. My family, the generations of ancestors before me, my siblings, and, of course, the future that I see in the precious faces of my children and grandchildren, all fuel my belief to dedicate my life’s calling and creative energy to an inclusive and equitable future for the lives I have the privilege of serving and influencing.
Career Educator: A teaching career as an English teacher spanning middle-school, high school and Community College, from 1975-present.
1983 Founder of The Learning Center, a private school.
1997 Worked with a founding board to transition The Learning Center to one of the first North Carolina Public Charter Schools.
1997-2021 served as Executive Director of The Learning Center Charter School.
1997-2022: TLC! Montessori Preschool, Founder and Lead Administrator.
Director of Business and Operations, 2020 to spring 2022.
Present: Blu Sky Initiative, Founder and President; Andrews Valley Initiative, Advisory Board
Karen is a Montessori trained, lifelong educator with a diverse history of experience as a Montessori Directress, a Kindergarten and First grade teacher, chorus director and charter school assistant administrator. Karen currently serves as Vice President and Secretary of Blu Sky Initiative.
Bob is a regionally recognized leader of community capacity building and social entrepreneur. He is Executive Director of Andrews Valley Initiative of North Carolina and serves as Advisory Director for Blu Sky Initiative.
Blu Sky Initiative works with companies, governments, nonprofits and other organizations to serve our mission of educating and transforming communities. Our partners contribute more than money. Their ideas, volunteer power, in-kind support and more are helping make the whole child to whole community transformation a reality in western North Carolina.