New director at virtual charter school

Chris Long

Willamette Connections Academy, the newest tuition-free, full-time online public charter school in Oregon, has named accomplished education leader Chris Long to be its first principal. Willamette Connections Academy opened its virtual doors and began serving K-12 students statewide on Sept. 3.

Long’s journey in education has been guiding her out west for several years. She started her career in Texas and served in both traditional brick-and-mortar and online education settings in Arkansas and Colorado before settling in the Pacific Northwest.

“Throughout my experiences as an educator and administrator, I have learned many important life lessons from both my students and colleagues,” said Long. “I’m a big believer in teamwork, and we’ve assembled a very talented staff for our first year of operations. Willamette Connections Academy is getting off to a great start, and I’m excited to connect with our families this fall.”

Long received her bachelor’s degree at Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma, her master’s at Harding University in Arkansas and earned a teaching certificate at the University of Texas at Arlington. After teaching social studies at a Dallas area middle school, Long moved into administrative roles at schools in Arkansas and Colorado. During her career, Long taught language arts, health and PE, among other subjects, and her administrative duties spanned teacher supervision, parent communication, drop-out prevention and testing coordination.

Long has been involved with Connections Academy schools for the past three years, including assistant principal at Colorado Connections Academy, and program manager assisting several Connections Academy schools with curriculum and leadership development among other responsibilities. 

“Chris’s experience in online education made her a natural fit for our school,” said Tim Hyre, Willamette Connections Academy School Board President. “We are thrilled to have Chris leading our team of high-quality teachers and other staff to provide another excellent education option for Oregon families through the launch of Willamette Connections Academy.”

“As both a teacher and administrator, I recognize the importance of helping students find an education option that best meets their learning needs,” explained Long. “I am extremely excited to offer this new, innovative, and flexible online learning option to students throughout the state.”

Willamette Connections Academy, sponsored by the Scio School District, provides students a personalized, safe learning environment to meet their individual needs. The school combines one-on-one attention with Oregon-certified teachers, a high-quality curriculum, technology tools, electives, clubs and community experiences to offer families a comprehensive, flexible approach to education.

Enrollment is still underway for the upcoming school year. Interested families can learn more about Willamette Connections Academy by attending an upcoming online information session at

For more information about the online program or to begin the enrollment process, call 888-478-9474 or visit the school’s website,


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