The Cannon Beach Academy began its new school year this week, adding for the first time fourth and fifth grades to its curriculum.
Amy Fredrickson, the academy’s director, said the school opened in 2017 and is a tuition-free nonprofit. It is part of the Seaside School District.
“If you are trying to create a charter school, you have to distinguish yourself from the (other) public schools,” Fredrickson said.
She said the academy is different in three ways:
It uses a Direct Instruction curriculum model
Spanish is taught on a daily basis
Art and music classes are taught weekly
“This year has been our most successful year in terms of enrollment,” she said. “Our maximum capacity for enrollment is 50. Forty-five students are enrolled.
“We received a grant from the Department of Education, and a large component of the grant was used for marketing and outreach,” said Fredrickson.
The school draws students from as far away as Nehalem to the south and Astoria to the north, she said. The only requirement is that students must live somewhere in Oregon and provide their own transportation.
One advantage the school offers is small class sizes of no more than 25 students, she said.
For reading, language arts and math, students are divided into groups within the classroom. “Small-group instruction permits the teacher to give feedback in a meaningful way. Teachers can work closely with the students.”
If a student is not “grasping a concept, the teacher can provide immediate feedback,” she said. “There is less opportunity for students to fall through the cracks or slide under the radar.”
Ryan Hull teaches second, third and fourth grade at the academy, where he’s taught for two and a half years. “What we offer is school choice,” Hull said.
The academy’s curriculum is Direct Instruction, which is “a sequential-step approach, where a student masters a task and then goes on to the next one,” he said. “In each lesson, we have seven to nine tasks going on at the same time.”
Hull said the school uses a “scripted lesson plan that has been used all over and it works … we know this is a well-tested curriculum.”
Emma Molyneux is a parent of two second-graders who have attended the academy since it opened. She said “one of the key benefits” is the fact that the school’s curriculum model can accommodate both of her children’s learning abilities, although they vary widely. “The children don’t get lost in the system.
“The other huge benefit is the community,” which embraces the school much more than if it were located in a large metro area, said Molyneux.
Also, it is the only elementary school located within Cannon Beach.
Anyone can volunteer at the school, she said. It is not necessary to have a child or grandchild enrolled.