Leman Academy of Excellence, a charter school that first opened in Marana in 2015, will open a new campus in Oro Valley next school year.
With the new school’s opening at 12225 La Cañada Drive, the Leman Academy network would be up to four schools, including in Parker, Colorado. The network opened its second Arizona school in Sierra Vista for the current school year.
The Oro Valley area is growing rapidly, said Kevin Leman, the school’s founder. “We’re glad to be able to put a school where we can help a lot of families with rigorous education.”
Leman Academy provides a “classical” education, which focuses on grammar, logic and rhetoric. At Leman schools, he said, children are taught to respect authority and other people.
The Oro Valley school would serve about 550 students in kindergarten through sixth grade. The plan is to offer seventh grade in the following school year, according to Leman.
Leman Academy previously planned to open a campus in Mesa in a building that was previously occupied by another charter school. That plan was withdrawn because Leman said there were issues with the previous school’s management.
But it hasn’t abandoned its plans to move into the Phoenix area altogether. The organization will continue to search for a suitable option, Leman said. The school is also looking to open schools in Texas, Indiana and North Carolina.
“I’m open to anywhere where there is a desire to have schools like ours in their area,” he said.
Bethany Papajohn, an administrator at the Marana location, will lead the Oro Valley school as its principal.
Leman Academy has not had trouble recruiting teachers, though most of the rest of the state is struggling with teacher shortage. A job fair it held last Saturday attracted droves of teachers, Leman said.
“We’ve had a lot of interest” especially from teachers who were frustrated with their previous schools, he said.
The Amphitheater school district, inside whose boundaries the new Leman school would be , is not doing anything differently to prepare for possible reduced enrollment that may occur as a result of area students migrating to the Leman school, said Amy Sharpe, a district spokeswoman.
The district has also had a good teacher-retention rate, she said.
“We have averaged nearly a 90 percent teacher-retention rate for the past four years.”