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.

Middle School

"I must say that I've never interviewed so many consistently bright, smart, engaged children in one place at one time. They were all exceptional. I've shot video for many years. To have so many intelligent answers with the brightness of their personality was truly a wonderful experience for me."

Dave Morgan, Lincoln County News (after having interviewed our 6th graders during Field School at the Hatfield Marine Science Center)

Grades 6 through 8

The middle school years are when critical thinking really takes root. In every discipline, including math, science, the humanities, and the arts, students learn by doing, asking, and thinking for themselves. They develop the critical analytical skills that most students don’t learn until college.

Our middle school students apply these critical thinking skills to discussions of ethics and values, developing solid, grounded views about morals, community and culture. In addition, the Jewish Studies program supports and develops critical thinking skills and provides opportunities for in-depth discussion and analysis. Our rich and robust curriculum perfectly rounds out the middle school learning years and provides students with clear vision for future action.

All middle school students participate in our Taglit (discovery) program, a special week-long session between semesters. Taglit is focused, performance-based, and hands-on. Students delve deeply into these intensive seminar-style courses, learning quite a bit in a short amount of time. Upcoming plans for courses include oceanography, a full-stage drama production, and creative writing.

Our 8th grade students participate each year in a culminating Capstone Project. Combining assignments, activities and skills from Humanities, Jewish Studies and Service Learning, this Capstone experience, integrates academic writing skills and the research process with Jewish Studies themes and a Service Learning project. Students have the opportunity to showcase their work during the Capstone Expo at the end of the year.

Specialists in music, art, physical education, dance, technology, library and an artist-in-residence program round out the PJA middle school experience.

Middle School Field Trips

Students take a variety of day field trips. Overnight field trips include a four-day trip to Outdoor School for 6th grade students, a three-day trip to Ashland for 7th grade students studying Shakespeare and a culminating 8th grade trip to Israel.

Click here to read the updates from last year's trip to Israel.

Middle School Exploratories

PJA middle school students can choose from a variety of exploratories that allow them to try out new skills and explore a subject for a quarter.

In Sixth grade, students take foundation classes in Art, Music, Technology, Cooking, and Drama as well as special topics in Jewish Studies and an Introduction to Spanish. They also have the opportunity to choose one additional exploratory class from the list of exploratories that are open to 6th, 7th and 8th grade students including the following:

EXPLORING 2-D AND 3-D VISUAL ARTS (7th & 8th only): This visual arts class will begin with students creating artist-inspired works on a variety of surfaces. After the first drawing assignment, students in the class will help determine the direction of learning, based on their unique interests and talents!

MAINSTAGE DRAMA: If you have always imagined yourself on stage, then this is the exploratory for you! This class will allow students to experience the full production process, from audition through rehearsal, culminating with a final performance. Students will memorize lines and blocking, help with costume and scenery building, and finally perform their show in front of an audience.

MATHCOUNTS: MATHCOUNTS is for any student who likes math, likes challenges and likes to work with other enthusiastic students. We will work together on fun, challenging math problems partly in preparation for the MATHCOUNTS competition in the winter. We will learn and apply problem solving strategies to solve problems in groups and individually.

MIDDLE SCHOOL CHOIR: Do you love to sing? Do you wish you could sing? During this exploratory you will soon realize everyone has a song to sing. And sing we will…from contemporary Jewish artists like Rick Recht, Naomi Less, and Josh Nelson to some of our traditional favorites…but with a twist! .

MULTIMEDIA (7th & 8th only): Multimedia is the artful blending of images, sound and video to communicate a message or idea to an intended audience. Multimedia is a compact form of communication, which allows the creator to send rich messages in a short amount of time (“a picture is worth a thousand words”). The Multimedia Exploratory is a Tech class in which students will discover a variety of multimedia creation web-based tools and software. Some of the projects we may create include a podcast radio show, an online newspaper and video Academy PSAs (public service announcements), to name a few.

NATURE ADVENTURES: Students will explore the natural environment around PJA. Through walks and games, we will learn about the flora (plants) and fauna (insects, fish and animals) around us and look at the geology of our environment.

WHAT’S COOKING (7th & 8th only): In this exploratory, we will pick up where 6th grade cooking left off and explore more cuisines and cooking methods. And as always, we will eat what we cook!

YEARBOOK: Join the yearbook staff and help determine the theme, design, and look of next year's book! Students will produce a high-quality yearbook, starting from the ground up. Students will have opportunities to photograph the year and sharpen their digital photography and editing skills, as well as write copy, learn about layouts and best practices in design, and master the art of MS Publisher. The book is created by the students, for the students.


If you would like additional information about The Middle School at PJA, please contact our Admission Director, Sarah Kahn Glass or call 503.535.3599.