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.

Curriculum Overview

Kindergarten - Grade 2

For children, the years between kindergarten and second grade are a time of tremendous growth. At PJA, the kindergarten – second grade curriculum nurtures that growth in an environment that engages students in their own learning and provides a foundation for academic success in the years that follow.

During these years, students develop a strong sense of themselves as part of a classroom family while also becoming increasingly independent learners and self-starters. K-2 teachers create a student-centered environment, with a focus on reading, writing and math workshops, careful attention to differentiation, and support of students’ social and emotional development. Students also learn the Hebrew aleph-bet, grow their Hebrew speaking vocabulary, and begin to read and write in Hebrew. They explore their world through units of study that integrate social studies and science concepts with other skills, and begin the formal study of Torah. Each year, students go on field trips, celebrate Jewish holy days and festivals, perform in plays, celebrate the publication of the books they write, and spend time with students from their older “buddy” class. Weekly specials include PE, art, music, and library. Social skills, mindfulness, and yoga practices are embedded in the curriculum.

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Grades 3 - 5

Third through fifth grade is a time of growing independence, skill acquisition, and abstract thinking. At PJA, we support the natural curiosity of students in these grades through an integrated curriculum that incorporate STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) and social studies skills and concepts. Through authentic explorations and making use of the resources of the Learning Commons and Makerspace, and through their work in art and music classes, students develop the self-confidence and research, problem-solving, and engineering skills for academic success in the years to follow.

Our third through fifth grade curriculum nurtures a love of reading and helps students develop comprehension strategies that support their learning across subject areas. In mathematics, students deal with increasingly larger numbers, become more fluent in the basic operations, and develop more efficient strategies for problem-solving and mathematical reasoning. As their Hebrew listening and speaking vocabulary grow, so does their ability to read and write in Hebrew. Each year, students develop a deeper understanding of the major Jewish holy days and learn more of the prayers associated with those holy days and of the morning, afternoon and Shabbat services. They share their learning with a wider audience in plays, STEAM day lessons and other presentations, and serve as buddies to students in younger grades.

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The Middle School Years

Middle school is a time of tremendous intellectual and social growth, as students develop their critical thinking skills and ability to learn independently and work collaboratively. In middle school, PJA students learn by doing, asking, and thinking for themselves, and are supported as they become intellectual risk takers and agents of change who have the ability to turn their beliefs into action.

Middle school classrooms are places of active learning as students engage in discussions and debate, problem solve, design, and create. Students apply critical thinking skills as they consider ethical questions, and develop solid, grounded views about morals, community and culture.

The middle school curriculum includes classes in humanities, math, science, Hebrew, Jewish studies, and Spanish. The weekly schedule also includes PE, tefillah, health and wellness, and elective exploratories in the arts, service learning, cooking, technology and making. Students learn in a combination of single grade and multi-grade classrooms.

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