Portland Jewish Academy is a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland and is proud of our partnership with them in strengthening our local Jewish community as well as the global community.



Student Support Services

At PJA, we want every child to achieve his or her potential. We value and advocate a team approach in making important decisions about children. Accordingly, the Student Support Services Team is an important resource for families, classroom teachers, and children. Working together with classroom teachers and the school counselor, our support service educators assess the needs of students and provide appropriate supports. The support services team works both in the classroom and in ‘pull outs’ outside the classroom to help support student learning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Support Services "Special Education?"
What is the role of Support Services educators at PJA?
What are the procedures and protocols for support services?
What are the different kinds of supports offered at PJA?
How will I learn about the work my child is doing with a support service educator?
What do I do if I feel my child has a learning challenge or disability?
What should I do if I think my child needs tutoring or a learning evaluation?
When and why would the school recommend an outside evaluation?

Are Support Services "Special Education?"

PJA support services differ from public school “special education” in several ways. “Special Education” refers to instruction designed specifically to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. At PJA we believe support services should not be limited to students who have the diagnosis of a disability or disorder (and who are therefore legally mandated to get “special education” services in public school). Rather, we recognize that many students benefit from some extra support to grow as readers, writers, mathematicians and Hebrew speakers. The support services we offer take many forms and are described in more detail below.

What is the role of Support Services educators at PJA?

Support service educators at PJA play several roles. As a regular presence in many of our classrooms, support service educators sometimes work in conjunction with the classroom teacher to support students during independent work time. During times that a class is divided into reading groups or other small work groups, a support service educator may work with one of those groups or circulate among the groups, regardless of any special needs the group members may have.

Support service educators are specialists in differentiated instruction and are able to work with students who benefit from small group (and sometimes one-on-one) instruction. During Hebrew class time, this can mean helping a student new to the study of the language “catch up” with his/her peers. Similarly, support service educators can help students who have gaps in his/her skills in reading, writing or mathematics.

Support specialists have specific education and experience working with students with reading and other learning differences, and they have a broad and deep understanding of specific strategies and programs that help students whose learning style has impeded their academic progress. Support educators can work with students in small groups (and occasionally one on one) to help them develop the skills to be successful in their classrooms.

Support Service educators are also a resource for teachers and parents, helping them explore strategies to best meet needs of students. Support Service educators can administer additional assessments to help teachers determine a students’ needs and, along with the student’s teachers, support educators develop student support plans. Along with the school counselor and classroom teachers, support service educators can also make recommendations for additional, outside supports for students and their families.

What are the procedures and protocols for support services?

At PJA, student assessment is part of the ongoing work in the classroom. Our teachers work collaboratively to develop an understanding of each student as a learner. Support Service Educators are part of the ongoing conversations about students, and through their work in the classroom have the opportunity to see students in many different learning situations. Together classroom and support service teachers decide when a student would benefit from some more targeted work in a particular academic area. Together they develop a plan, with specific goals, to support the student in that area. If that plan includes “push-in” or “pull-out” services from one of the support services teachers, parents are notified and have an opportunity to speak with the support services teacher.

What are the different kinds of supports offered at PJA?

At PJA, we want every child to achieve his or her potential, and aim to offer a range of supports to help students do so. While most of these supports come from classroom teachers, we also have specialists to support students who need additional targeted instruction in Hebrew, reading, writing, math, and study skills. The school counselor and support educators also work with classroom teachers and families to support students who are struggling with peers and, when appropriate, develop plans to help students better manage their behavior in the classroom

How will I learn about the work my child is doing with a support service educator?

Classroom teachers communicate regularly with parents about their child’s progress and let parents know when they feel their child will benefit from targeted work with a support service educator. Support Service educators let parents know about the specific work they do with the students they regularly see , develop “Ed Plans” articulating the goals of their work and summarizing student progress, write regular progress reports, and attend their family conferences in the fall and spring. Like all teachers at PJA, they are always available by phone or email and are happy to schedule additional meetings with parents.

Because support service educators are a regular presence in the classroom, all students may have occasion to work with one them as part of ongoing classroom work.

What do I do if I feel my child has a learning challenge or disability?

We encourage families always to bring any question or concern they have about their child to the classroom teachers. While teachers cannot diagnosis a learning problem, the classroom teacher can offer a great deal of information about a child’s strengths, challenges and general approach to learning. The teacher can also bring your questions and concerns to the support service team and together with them decide if some further in-school assessments would be appropriate. The classroom teacher may also suggest you contact the school counselor who can help you explore possible next steps.

What should I do if I think my child needs tutoring or a learning evaluation?

We recommend that parents begin by exploring the idea of outside tutoring or a learning evaluation first with the classroom teachers and, if the child is getting specific support in school, with the support service educator who works with the child. The school counselor can recommend tutors and other specialists with whom you can consult. If you do proceed with outside tutoring or a learning evaluation, classroom teachers and the support team will work with you in planning those steps, stay in touch with the tutor, furnish information required by an evaluator, and meet with parents and the evaluator to review the evaluation results and recommendations.

When and why would the school recommend an outside evaluation?

At PJA, we believe an evaluation gives us more information about how your child learns and processes information. In most cases, it gives teachers a broader range of strategies for teaching your child more effectively. In a meeting with parents and the evaluator, we closely review the recommendations and will speak honestly with you about how we can best implement those recommendations to meet your child’s needs. In some cases, an evaluation may include some specific recommendations that are better met with outside tutoring or therapy. We can recommend a specialist for your child and, once your child begins working with the specialist, stay in regular contact with him/her.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact Betsy Bailey, PJA School Counselor and General Studies Director at 503.452.3441.

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