The Cannon Beach Academy is officially set to open this fall almost four years after the town lost its elementary school.
The charter school had until May 1 to enroll at least 17 kindergartners and 17 first and second graders combined. As of Friday, April 28, 18 kindergartners are enrolled and the first and second grade class has been maxed out with 22 students, board member Phil Simmons said.
“We as a team, and as a community, have been working on this for years,” Simmons said. “When they first closed the elementary school, some families had to move, and I was a little concerned there wasn’t going to be enough interest. But in my heart I knew that there was, and this victory supports this interest.”
Cannon Beach Elementary School closed in 2013 due to tsunami safety concerns and budget shortfalls. Now the academy has secured the lease for a temporary space on Sunset Highway and has hired a director to lead the school into its first year.
“The initial reason for wanting to start this school was because I wanted my son to be close to where I lived,” Simmons said. “I think it’s important for the young families who live in our community to have their children in school where they live and work so they can interact with their kid in the school day.”
There are a lot of things that are bringing the director of Cannon Beach Academy to the North Coast.
Amy Moore loves walking by the salty sea water with her dog, she said, and visiting Cannon Beach at her family vacation home for the past 20 years has let her get to know the place.
But the main reason she’s taking the position comes from her passion for children.
“My passion for education comes from supporting students who have a hard time being supported in school,” Moore said.
Moore, 40, has worked in special education in a variety of facets at public and private schools throughout Oregon for 11 years. She has served in leadership roles at La Salle Prep, a Catholic school in Milwaukie, and at Victory Academy, the only private school in Oregon that caters exclusively to students with autism.
“It will be beneficial to have this background, as we will likely have learners from all different backgrounds, and learners with varying levels of ability, strengths and needs” she said. “I think this lens is a good lens to use for all students, not just those who may have learning differences because each child is unique.”
As the director, Moore will be in charge of hiring teachers, curriculum and constructing the overall vision for the academy.
In these early stages, Moore is concentrated on finding teachers and getting logistics squared away so the school can physically open.
“We want to think big, but we have limits with our space,” she said. “I want to partner with parents and businesses, and I’m trying to reach out to families outside of Cannon Beach to make (the academy) an education hub.”
Cannon Beach Academy treasurer Barb Knop said that while there were many qualified applicants for the position, Moore’s love for children is what shined in the interview.
“What I admired the most about her it was clear she loved children. Her face would light up at those moments, and I liked those moments,” Knop said.
Simmons said he is confident in Moore’s ability to lead and direct the vision of the school.
“I got the impression that she has the ability to understand what a problem is and figure out a way to solve it,” he said. “As a leader when you take over an organization, the best way to start is to observe. But I anticipate that as we move forward she’ll take more control.”
While Moore is from Salem, she has had a house in Seaside for three years, and is ready to start.
“This place has been calling us to live here for a long time,” she said.
With students in hand and a director to lead them, the school must have its building permit approved by the city to start renovation of the former Cannon Beach Fitness Center. Once approved, the academy can move forward with construction over the summer.
Moore said she is reviewing teacher applications as well. If students are still interested in enrolling, there will be a second enrollment period through the end of June. In the second enrollment period, charter schools are legally obligated to choose students with a lottery system, meaning if there are more applications than open spots the school will randomly select students from the pool as spots become available.
“Overall, this was a community effort, including Seaside School District, and I’m just really proud,” Simmons said.