Our students and staff recently participated in an important annual election at PJA to determine “The Most Important Organelle” of 2022. As a part of their studies in biology, 7th & 8th grade students learn about cells through The Cell Campaign Project.
Student & Family Handbook
Welcome to our kehillah - community. PJA is a warm and nurturing environment, which embodies our middot - core values and is conducive to learning and personal growth for students, faculty, and staff members alike. We wish you and your child(ren) a fruitful and satisfying year at PJA.
Merrill Hendin, Principal
- Mission & Middot
- Our Program
- General School Information
- Academic, Behavioral & Family Expectations
- Jewish Life
- Support PJA
- Contact Us
As a Jewish Day School, we strive to ensure an academically rich environment which honors the whole child. Portland Jewish Academy nurtures and inspires Jewish engagement, kavod - respect, and responsibility for the world in which we live.
MIDDOT - CORE VALUES
These six values are the foundation of our mission at PJA.
לימוד Limmud – Study
“Delve into it and continue to delve into it, for everything is in it.” (Pirkei Avot 5:26)
PJA believes in education for the whole child and supports multiple approaches to learning. Love of life, Judaism, and learning are integrated into all aspects of our school community.
כבוד Kavod – Respect
“Who is worthy of honor? One who honors all of creation.” (Avot 4:01)
As a community we learn to treat ourselves, others and the world with dignity and respect.
אחריות Akharayut – Responsibility
“The day is short, the work is great. You are not expected to finish the work, but you are not free to desist.” (Pirkei Avot 2:20-21)
At PJA, we are guided and inspired to take responsibility for the world in which we live. Through acts of chesed - kindness, and tikkun olam - repairing the world, we see ourselves as agents of change who can achieve social justice, and pursue peace.
קהילה Kehillah – Community
“Bless all of us as one in Your Light.” (Amidah prayer)
Jewish learning and engagement enhances our participation in a variety of communities, and encourages a sense of belonging and connectedness.
הודיה Hodaya – Appreciation
“We gratefully thank you, God, for You have returned our souls within us with compassion.” (Modeh Ani prayer)
Our PJA community nurtures a sense of appreciation and gratitude for the world around us, inspired by Jewish thought and learning.
זהות Zehut – Identity
“Beloved is the person created in God’s image.” (Avot 3:14)
Our middot serve as a foundation to form and build identity, both as a school and as individuals. We seize the opportunity to explore who we are, what we stand for and what we believe.
EARLY CHILDHOOD (Infants through Pre-K)
PJA’s child-centered Early Childhood Program is a warm and stimulating environment that encourages learning through exploration, play, and the arts. Children cultivate a love of learning through an emergent developmentally-appropriate curriculum. Specialists guide enrichment classes including music, Hebrew language, art, physical education, and weekly visits to the library. Children explore Jewish life by celebrating holidays, Shabbat, values and community. Small classes support individualized attention and personal growth. Our Early Childhood program serves children starting at age six weeks through six years. The Preschool offers half and full day options and the Infant/Toddler Program offers flexible full-day options.
LOWER SCHOOL (Grades K-5)
Guided by our foundational middot (values) of study, respect, responsibility, community, identity, and appreciation, the PJA lower school program is designed to be developmentally appropriate. The classroom environment fosters a caring community of learners and supports students’ growing ability to think critically. Students communicate orally and in writing in both English and Hebrew, read widely, and use mathematical, scientific, and ethical thinking to solve problems. Student learning is enriched by our integrated, project-based approach, which includes all subject areas and a wide variety of opportunities to explore visual and performing arts. Our Learning Commons and Makerspace offer students opportunities for flexible spaces for collaboration and support continued innovation and integration throughout the grades. Students benefit from the daily use of our facilities and grounds, which include the MJCC athletic facilities right next door, and our outdoor classrooms and playgrounds. Children receive an education in all subjects that is illuminated by Jewish values, honoring the legacy of our heritage.
MIDDLE SCHOOL (Grades 6-8)
PJA’s middle school program centers around the teaching of Hillel: “If I am not for
myself who will be for me, and if I am only for myself what am I, and if not now, when?”
(Avot 1:14) Our students delve into personal identity, explore and respect other points of view, and through their studies and culminating capstone project, become leaders in the school and broader community. PJA’s 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 their own informed views regarding values, community, and culture. 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.
PJA Afterschool programs are enrichment-driven and choice-based, providing students with a healthy balance of teacher-directed activities and child-initiated, creative free play. In our teaching, we utilize strategies that support the distinct learning needs, interests, aspirations, and backgrounds of the students in our care. Our fun enrichment projects expand on student learning and impart knowledge and skills that can be applied in the world at large. We encourage children to become active, self-confident, and enthusiastic learners by focusing on the process of discovery.
PJA Afterschool offers unique monthly themes; homework incentives; educational field trips; community building; full-day vacation care; dedicated staff; low staff-to-student ratios; fun, enrichment activities; well-equipped indoor activity areas for exploring; opportunities for resting, relaxing and reading; and large outdoor play areas for gross motor development.
- School Hours & Office Hours
- Security & Visitors
- Health Policy
- State Mandates for Schools
- Social Events
Oregon State Law requires that students attend school daily unless they have a medical excuse or there is a family emergency. On days your child is absent, or there is a change in his/her attendance, please notify the school office before 8:15 am. You can email email@example.com or by call 503.535.3561.
It is our expectation that every student will be here, barring health/medical issues for the full school day throughout the school year. We strongly urge families to schedule non-urgent appointments after school hours or on non-school days. PJA does not allow early release from school for extracurricular activities. Finally, we expect that family vacations will be planned during PJA vacation times.
Kindergarten through fifth grade school day is 8:15 am – 3:30 pm, Monday - Thursday. The Middle School school day is 8:15 am – 3:40 pm. Friday dismissal for all grades is 2:30 pm. Students may arrive in their classrooms at 8:00 am. Please do not drop your child(ren) off prior to 8:00.
The school office is open from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm, Monday through Thursday. On Friday, the office closes 30 minutes before Shabbat candle lighting. The office is closed during “carpool” dismissal (3:20-3:50 pm Monday - Thursday and 2:20-2:50 pm on Friday). The PJA office, including all office equipment, is for school business only. Personal use of office equipment is prohibited.
For the safety of our students and staff, PJA carefully controls access to all interior areas of our building. Parents/guardians/visitors may enter and exit only through the two main doors of the building. Please help us maintain security by not admitting anyone into the building unless they show their PJA card. Children leaving early from school must be signed out by an adult. When students arrive late to school or return to school after an appointment, they must be signed in by an adult. If someone other than the parent/guardian is responsible for picking up a child that person must report to the school office and show identification.
School staff will deliver messages and materials to students during the school day.
In order to continue to safeguard against illness as much as possible and limit contacts, we will be allowing visitors to the building on a very limited basis. We will update information about visitors to the school in accordance with Covid guidelines as they come available.
In the morning, you may drop off your child in front of the building from 8:00 to 8:15 am. If you need to come into the building for any reason, please park and then enter. Do not leave your car in the drop off area. If your child needs assistance exiting the car and/or carrying their belongings, please park and help your child out of the car and/or walk your child into the building.
Pick-up will be via a drive-up carpool lane. The walk-up lane will be only for necessity and will be located on the east side of the building (below Merrill's office windows). Each family will receive several carpool placards with the students' names on them. Please have this placard on the windshield of the vehicle when you come to pick up your child.
Middle School dismissal
• Middle School dismissal is at 3:40, except on Friday when all grades are dismissed at 2:30.
• If you have a child(ren) in the lower and middle school your lower school child will wait with their class until their older sibling/carpool buddy is dismissed.
• Please do not arrive at carpool earlier than 3:40.
Excused from carpool
• If a student has provided a signed permission slip from their parent/guardian indicating that they go home on their own, that student may be excused from carpool.
• All Middle School students are permitted in the MJCC lobby after school hours. All others must be accompanied by an adult.
The area in front of the MJCC building is a fire lane. City code requires that cars left unattended in this area be towed.
Please exercise extreme caution when driving through our parking lot at all times.
Immunizations / Health Forms
All children must have a complete series of the required immunizations according to state regulations.
All K-8th grade students are required to be vaccinated against Covid-19. (Families may request a medical or religious exemption, which must be approved by PJA administration.) In addition, the school must have an updated health information form on file for each student.
Updating Health Forms
If any changes occur in your child(ren)’s health, please update the health form in the school office. All health information is confidential, seen by administrators and teachers on a need-to-know basis only.
Illnesses that require absence from school
Students who have any of the following conditions are prohibited from attending school:
1. Primary symptoms of COVID-19 (fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea)
2. Fever within the previous 24 hours
3. Vomiting within the previous 24 hours
4. Diseases such as strep throat, flu, or serious colds in the contagious phase. Children with bacterial infections must be on antibiotics for at least 24 hours before returning to school.
5. Lice, nits, or transmittable skin parasites.
6. Students who are too ill to participate fully in their school day, including PE and recess times, (excluding injuries such as sprains or broken bones).
If your child will miss school please notify the PJA office by 8:30 am. In case of extended absence (more than two days), please contact the school to discuss arrangements for make-up work. If a child becomes ill during the school day, school staff will contact a family member. Should a family member not be reachable or unable to arrive at school within one hour, staff will contact the emergency contact listed on the student’s health information form.
If a child needs to receive medication during the school day, parents/guardians must submit a Medication Administration Form. All medicine must be in the original bottle with the original label and directions and must be prescribed for that child. Please inform the office staff whenever your child is on medication that may affect alertness and participation. If your child has a chronic condition which requires monitoring and medication while at school, please contact the office to discuss your child’s condition and needs.
State law requires administrators and teachers to report cases of suspected child abuse immediately to the Department of Human Services. This includes suspected abuse occurring at or away from school.
By state law, parents/guardians have the right:
A. To inspect and review the student’s educational records;
B. To request the amendment of the student’s educational records to ensure that they are not inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy or other rights;
C. To consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s educational records, except to the extent that these rules authorize disclosure without consent;
D. To file with the U.S. Department of Education a complaint concerning alleged failures by the agency or institution to comply with the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act [20 U.S.C. § 1232g];
E. To obtain a copy of the policy adopted [by the educational agency or institution regarding student education records]. OAR 581-021-0220-0430.
Teen Dating Violence and Domestic Violence Policy
Pursuant to ORS 339.366 and 339.368
Teen dating violence is unacceptable and prohibited at Portland Jewish Academy (PJA). Each student has the right to a safe learning environment. PJA will comply with all current requirements (including those in Oregon law) for education of its students, personnel, and others on the prevention, recognition of, and reporting requirements for teen dating violence and domestic violence. This policy applies to behavior on school grounds, at school-sponsored activities, and on school-provided transportation.
Education and Training
Students in grades 7 and 8 will receive age-appropriate education about teen dating violence and domestic violence in the curricular program at PJA annually.
Our 7th and 8th grade year long health classes weaves these topics into the curriculum and talks about healthy relationships and dating and the dangers of teen dating violence and domestic violence. This is taught by our health teacher and school counselor.
School faculty and staff, including agents, contractors, and volunteers at PJA will receive training on the topic of teen dating violence and domestic violence annually. Our school faculty and staff all participated in SOS Three Sixty - Boundary training.
PJA has created this poster that contains information regarding domestic violence, including at least one toll-free hotline number that a student may call to obtain information and help regarding domestic violence. Posting of posters must be in clearly visible locations on the school campus. This poster will be found in our main office, the administrative offices and the counselor’s office. It will also be posted to the 7th and 8th grade health Google classroom.
Response and Reporting Procedures
Any violation of this policy must be reported immediately to the school principal or designee in absence of the school principal.
Procedures for reporting incidents of teen dating violence that takes place on school grounds, at school-sponsored activities, on school-provided transportation includes:
If you need to report an incident, please report to the School Principal, the Human Resources Director, or the Executive Director.The report can be made in whatever manner the employee feels most comfortable; that is to say in person, via email, via written report. We cannot guarantee anonymity as a report may generate a larger investigation. We will, of course, limit any disclosure to those who must know because of their role in the investigation.The School Principal and/or the Executive Director has/have responsibility for investigations concerning incidents of teen dating violence.
Notification of Policies
At a minimum, PJA shall make the policy:
- Annually available to parents, guardians, school employees, and students in a student or employee handbook; and
- Readily available to parents, guardians, school employees, volunteers, students, administrators, agents, contractors, and community representatives at each school office or at PJA office and on the school website.
The school principal at PJA is responsible for ensuring the policy is implemented.
“Dating” or “dating relationship” means an ongoing social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature between two persons. “Dating” or “dating relationship” does not include a casual relationship or ordinary fraternization between two persons in a business or social context.
“Domestic violence” means abuse as defined in ORS 107.705 (Definitions for ORS 107.700 to 107.735) between family and household members, as those terms are defined in ORS 107.705 (Definitions for ORS 107.700 to 107.735).
“Teen dating violence” means a pattern of behavior in which a person uses or threatens to use physical, mental, or emotional abuse to control another person who is in a dating relationship with the person, where one or both persons are 13 to 19 years of age; or behavior by which a person uses or threatens to use sexual violence against another person who is in a dating relationship with the person, where one or both persons are 13 to 19 years of age.
As a Jewish school, we follow the standards of kashrut - Jewish dietary laws. Please see the Jewish Life section of the handbook for specific rules of kashrut.
Lunches and snacks brought from home must be vegetarian (some fish such as salmon and tuna are allowed). We encourage families to provide healthy snacks such as fruit and vegetables. Soda is not allowed in snacks or lunches.
We will inform families when the option to purchase lunches from Cafe at the J is available again.
Eighth graders will be assigned one cafe day per week. On their assigned day, they may purchase food from the cafe and eat there during lunch and recess. Students may not bring cafe food onto the school side of the campus. Students in the cafe on their designated days must abide by all the JCC policies.
Until further notice PJA will provide snacks for class celebrations. No food will be brought in to school to be shared with others.
Birthday Parties at School
At PJA students celebrate their birthdays by sharing a special book with their class. We strongly discourage sharing food as part of birthday celebrations.
Events Outside of School
When planning your child(ren)’s out of school party please be sensitive to Shabbat and chagim (Jewish holidays) observances and kashrut. Do not plan parties during Shabbat and chagim (Jewish holidays). When planning outside social events please keep in mind that talk of these events usually becomes part of conversations at school. Those not included are hurt or offended. In the spirit of being inclusive, please consider inviting the whole class.
We offer a variety of support to help students meet expectations. These include differentiated instruction, modified assignments, pull out and push in work with a learning specialist, and/or Hebrew language support. The school may also recommend outside tutoring or other academic supports.
- Behavioral Expectations
- Toys & Electronic Devices
- Dress Code
- Parent/Guardian Expectations
- Volunteering & Kehillah
Homework is the time students spend outside the classroom in assigned activities to practice, reinforce, or apply newly acquired skills and knowledge. It is an integral part of learning.
Lower School (Grades K-5)
Lower school students are expected to read or be read to on a nightly basis. The amount of homework varies by grade level. Teachers will discuss homework expectations at Back To School night. Homework other than reading will not be assigned over chagim (holy days), Shabbat, winter, or Passover breaks.
Middle School (Grades 6-8)
Homework is assigned daily except Friday and Chagim (holidays). Students are expected to record each day’s homework assignments and complete and turn in all assignments on time. The middle school faculty attempts to coordinate homework with particular attention to long term projects and tests. Teachers will notify you when your child(ren) is experiencing difficulty completing or turning in homework in a timely manner.
If you or your child feel that their homework load is unreasonable, please reach out to administration. Our goal is to make sure that homework is manageable and does not overwhelm students.
PRE-ARRANGED ABSENCES (with regard to homework)
We believe that formal class instruction is valuable time; the loss of in-school time may have an impact on a student’s overall progress. Notification of pre-arranged absences should be made at least five (5) days prior to an absence. A pre-arranged absence form must be requested by students and circulated to teachers. Whenever appropriate, teachers will assign work for the absence. Due to the nature of some assignments (e.g. labs, activities, discussions, tests) students may be expected to complete work upon their return.
MAKE UP WORK POLICY FOR LOWER AND MIDDLE SCHOOL
Students may be responsible for making up work when they are absent. Please check with your child’s classroom teachers or have your child email their teacher directly. Students (4th-8th grade) have the responsibility to check Google Classroom regarding assignment completion.
These guidelines from Jewish tradition communicate our expectations for appropriate behavior, both in school and while engaged in school-related activities off-campus.
1. Kavod - respect is the cornerstone of living and learning at PJA.
2. Students and staff conduct themselves with derekh eretz - courtesy and good manners.
These principles are expressed in our Lower School as the Kavod Loop.
At Portland Jewish Academy we:
To benefit fully from the educational experience at PJA students are expected to attend school regularly, arrive on time, participate in activities, and complete assigned tasks. We believe that these habits are life skills as well as necessary for school success.
PJA is a physically and emotionally safe place for learning and teaching. It is PJA’s aim to support each student’s developing ability to manage themselves and to make healthy, positive choices. Therefore, in any situation involving discipline, the emphasis is on learning from the experience and repairing the situation. We will inform you and involve you in any situation that requires recurring intervention and serious breaches of school policy. All members of the PJA community are responsible for implementing behavior policies.
Certain behaviors warrant immediate consequences or disciplinary actions. These include, but are not limited to:
1. Cutting Class/Leaving Without Permission
Failure to attend assigned class without permission or excuse; leaving the building, classroom or assigned area without obtaining prior approval of the teacher and/or administrator.
2. Disruptive Behavior
Behavior that disrupts or interferes with the educational process. Behavior that causes the class or activity to stop or continue with difficulty, in which the student does not cooperate and does not make reasonable attempts to disengage or follow directions.
3. Controlled Substances
Possession or use of any form of alcohol, drugs (including abuse of over-the-counter or prescription drugs), tobacco, or any controlled substance.
The exchange of mutual physical contact, such as pushing, shoving, and hitting with or without injury, even in the context of play.
Disturbing consistently by pestering or tormenting; abusive words and sexual harassment, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct.
Failure to comply with a proper and authorized direction of instruction of a staff member.
Taking property belonging to the school or any individual or group without prior permission.
Intentionally causing damage to or defacing school property or the property of others.
9. Abusive/Profane Language
Communication that ridicules or humiliates another person.
Representing someone else’s work as though it were your own. This includes plagiarism, giving or accepting answers on tests, classwork, or homework.
Possession of any items designated as weapons including a simulated weapon or use of any tool or instrument as a weapon.
12. Peer aggression
Includes physical, verbal and relational aggression.
Physical aggression: harm through damage or threat of damage to another’s physical well-being.
Verbal aggression: obvious and/or hidden verbal acts of aggression toward another, such as threats, put-downs and name-calling.
Relational aggression: behavior that is intended to harm someone by damaging or manipulating his or her relationships with others.
Administrative response to the above behaviors may include in-school or out-of-school suspension. Families will be notified in either case. A re-entrance conference between parents/guardians, administration, staff, and child will be held prior to the child’s return to class. Retention of a student during any academic year and re-enrollment for any subsequent academic year will remain conditional upon the timely performance of the obligations of the family. PJA reserves the right to require the withdrawal of a student whose performance or behavior or that of any family member is detrimental to the school.
Students should not bring toys, games or electronic devices to school including Apple watches and other smart devices. Cell phones may not be used by students during the school day, 7:45 am to 3:45 pm. Items that cause distraction or interrupt teaching and learning may be confiscated by teachers or staff.
PJA has an Acceptable Use Policy regarding the use of technology at school. Please refer to the Acceptable Use Policy and be sure that you are familiar with our policy.
We expect students to come to school dressed appropriately for learning. Parents/guardians are responsible for encouraging and guiding their children to dress sensibly, respectfully, and in a manner conducive to learning and safety. Guiding children to make appropriate choices with regard to the length of shorts and skirts and shirt styles is the parent’s/guardian’s responsibility. Students who are in clothing that has offensive messages will be asked to change. Families may be called to bring additional clothing to school on a day that a student is not appropriately dressed.
Lower and Middle School students must wear non-marking athletic shoes for PE. Any other shoe is not acceptable.
Change of Clothing
Every student should have a change of clothing to keep in their cubby/locker in case they get wet or muddy on the playground.
Shabbat and Chagim (holidays) attire
On Fridays and holidays, students are asked to wear white shirts or PJA spirit wear.
The education of your child is a partnership between family and school. Your support of the school’s policies and your direct communication with us whenever concerns or questions arise are of utmost importance. We are committed to addressing all concerns shared with us. The crucial partnership between family and school must be based on kavod - respect and trust. The underlying foundation of the faculty/student relationship is also based on kavod and trust.
To ensure the success of our students and the continued excellence of PJA’s programs, parents and guardians of PJA students are expected to:
• Support PJA and its mission;
• Model behavior which reflects the middot - values of our school;
• Meet all financial obligations to the school in a timely manner;
• Assure that their child(ren) abide by the policies contained in this handbook;
• Avoid lashon harah - spreading rumors;
We expect our families, faculty, and staff to model the same high standards of respectful behavior in their communication as we expect from our students. Disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated and such behavior may lead to the cancellation of a family’s contract through nonrenewal or involuntary withdrawal.
We look forward to a productive and fruitful relationship with all of our families.
Kehillah is the Hebrew word for “community.” The PJA Kehillah Organization is an informal family group that works closely with PJA staff to support the educational programs and activities of the school, encourage family involvement in their child’s education, classroom(s) and school, and provide feedback and suggestions for school programs. Kehillah spearheads Staff Appreciation Week, fosters community building through social programming, and helps coordinate class participation in the annual PJA auction. Every PJA family is automatically a member of the Kehillah.
The PJA website provides information about admission, alumni, events, and other useful information about the school for current families, prospective families, other educators, and the community at large. The school calendar is also accessible on the PJA website.
- Kehilla Update:
The PJA office puts out a weekly update that is sent to all families via email. This update provides information about events, activities, and upcoming deadlines. The Kehillah Update is where you will find the most current information about what is happening at school.
- Social Media:
PJA maintains a Facebook page and Instagram account where we highlight school activities, student and faculty achievements, alumni updates, and upcoming events. We only use photos of PJA students with permission.
- One Call Now:
One Call Now is an automated phone/email notification service which will inform you about school closures and emergencies as well as reminders for important events. The phone numbers and email addresses you submit in your Back to School packets will be used for this service.
The Admission Office puts out a weekly Spotlight article that highlights a particular lesson, classroom activity, or program that is happening in our school. The Spotlight articles are sent to all PJA families and staff, alumni, grandparents, the members of the Board of Directors, and are archived on the PJA website.
- FACTS SIS/ParentsWeb:
FACTS is the Student Information System that we use for Admission and Enrollment. Staff can use FACTS to communicate via email with families and to access student information provided by families. Parents/guardians can update personal information such as email addresses directly through ParentsWeb. ParentsWeb is also where families will find the school directory and class lists. Access to ParentsWeb requires a login and password created by parents/guardians when they enroll their child(ren) in PJA.
Grade Level/Individual Communication
Email is used on a regular basis at PJA for families to communicate with the office, administration, teachers, and other families. Teachers check email at least once a day. Email is a very good way to communicate if you have a non-urgent question or concern you would like to discuss with faculty. Faculty will get back to you within 24 hours either by phone or email.
- Phone calls:
PJA faculty welcome phone conversations with parents/guardians and will often phone home at the end of the day or during their planning time to discuss an academic or social issue rather than sending an email. As teachers cannot make or receive calls easily during class time, these calls will generally come when teachers are free and have time to devote to a more in-depth conversation. If you phone the school during the day to speak to a teacher, expect to leave a message and receive a phone call in return within 24 hours. If the matter demands more immediate attention please speak to someone in the PJA office.
If you have a message to give your child during the day, you should call the office and we will pass your message on to your child. PLEASE DO NOT PHONE YOUR STUDENT ON THEIR CELL PHONE DURING THE DAY OR SEND YOUR STUDENT TEXT MESSAGES OR EMAILS. Students are not allowed to use their cell phones at school with the occasional exception of devices used for a particular assignment during class time. Your child will not have regular or consistent access to their devices.
If your child is sick or has had an incident occur at school, you will receive a phone call from the school to let you know of the situation.
- Report Cards:
Twice a year families will receive a written report from their child’s teachers. The report will include a narrative section that provides families with an understanding of how and what their child is learning and a checklist that gives families an idea of how their child is progressing as a learner.
- Family-Teacher Conferences:
PJA schedules conferences with families to share information about their child’s progress. At these conferences, families meet with the grade level team. In Lower School, this includes both the General and Jewish Studies faculty. Usually specialists do not attend conferences. If you have a question about a special (PE, Music, Art, or Library), please contact the specialist directly to discuss your concern and/or set up a time to meet.
We are excited to adopt an advisory model in Middle School this year. Each Middle School student will be part of a learning cohort, called an advisory, that is facilitated by a faculty member advisor. The advisor is the point of contact between the family and the Middle School faculty. The advisor will guide the Family-Teacher Conference along with your student. We look forward to sharing more information with you about the advisory model at Back to School Night.
Family-Teacher Conferences are 25-30 minutes long and are meant to give parents/guardians an understanding of how their child is progressing in their learning. If parents/guardians and/or teachers feel that there is a need for a more in-depth discussion that will warrant a longer time slot, arrangements should be made to meet at a separate time.
- Back to School Night:
We welcome parents/guardians to join us for Back to School Night. We will share information about your child’s learning journey this school year, and provide an overview with regard to schedules, programming, curriculum, and general classroom procedures and protocols. Our Lower School Back to School night is Thursday, September 19th. Middle School Back to School Night is the following Thursday, September 26th.
Back to School night is scheduled for early in the school year. Please see the school calendar for specific date and time.
As a Jewish school, much of the life of PJA runs according to the Jewish calendar and other Jewish rituals. Below we’ve outlined some of the hallmarks of Jewish Life at PJA. This document is by no means inclusive of all of the Jewish life of our school. Please always feel free to ask questions of Merrill, Amy or any Jewish Studies teacher. We are always happy to talk to you and answer your questions!
Shabbat - Sabbath
Shabbat is the weekly Jewish Sabbath. It begins just before sunset on Friday evenings and ends when three stars appear in the sky on Saturday night. It is considered a holy day intended for rest, reflection and prayer. It is traditional for Jewish people to refrain from any type of work on Shabbat. The rhythm of the school day is different on Fridays at PJA as we begin to prepare for Shabbat. Every Friday we gather together in different configurations of students and faculty to welcome Shabbat in different types of programs. We dismiss at 2:30 on Fridays so students and faculty can be ready for Shabbat when it begins.
Chagim - Holidays
Jewish holidays (chagim) can be divided into two categories: holidays that follow the same rules about work as Shabbat (“Holy Days”) and holidays that we celebrate in school because there is no prohibition against work on those days. PJA does not hold secular events on Shabbat or on Holy Days. This policy allows the school to support students across the spectrum of Jewish practice and belief. Teachers should not contact families during Shabbat or the chagim. This permits our entire community to rest and spend time with their families.
Jewish Holy Days are as follows:
o Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)
o Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
o Sukkot (Festival of Booths)
o Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah (Celebrating the Torah)
o Pesach (Passover)
o Shavuot (Celebration of Receiving of the Torah)
We will be in school for several Jewish holidays where there is no prohibition against work. Celebrating these holidays will be a part of each of those school days.
o Tu B’ Shevat (New Year of the Trees)
o Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)
o Yom Ha Zikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day)
o Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day)
o Lag B’ Omer (33rd day between Passover and Shavuot)
Many classes at PJA celebrate Thanksgiving and President’s Day. As a school, we come together to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with an assembly on a day close to MLK day. Halloween and Valentine’s Day are two days that many of our students choose to celebrate outside of school. However, due to the origins of these days, as a school, we do not mark or celebrate either of those days at PJA.
Kashrut - Jewish Dietary Laws
The following is our Kashrut Policy for faculty, staff and students at PJA:
• All food brought in for personal meals and snacks should be vegetarian. Dairy and fish (not shellfish ) are always fine for a personal meal or snack as well.
• No meat, poultry, pork, or shellfish can be brought into the building.
• Students do have opportunities to order meat sandwiches through the office on certain days, but cannot bring in any meat from home.
• Any food a child brings in to share with the class should come from a sealed package with a kosher label.
• Any food given to students by staff must come from a sealed package with a kosher label.
• There will be opportunities for students to cook and eat together in our kosher kitchen.
• As every family follows different dietary restrictions, please do not allow students to share food.
Kippot - Head Coverings
At PJA students are required to wear a kippah (head covering) during meals, during all Jewish Studies and Hebrew classes, at Kabbalat Shabbat, assemblies and other appropriate occasions. Students are welcome and encouraged to wear their kippah throughout the day, though it is not required. Should a family choose to have their child not wear a kippah, a letter must be submitted to the office stating the reason for that request.
There is a substantial difference between the full cost of a PJA education and tuition. We make up the difference through fundraising: PJA’s Annual Fund campaign, Auction, and other fundraisers. We urge all PJA families to participate in as many of these fundraising efforts as they can. We are grateful for the ongoing support of The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland.
The Annual Fund is an important source of unrestricted funds for PJA. It funds classroom activities, faculty salaries, art supplies, technology, tuition assistance and other essential operating needs. The Annual Fund runs through the school year and supports the Early Childhood programs, the Day School, and the Afterschool program. Participation is what’s most important, so make your gift today at: www.pjaproud/donate.
Our annual auction is Sunday, December 12, 2021. This is our largest and most visible fundraiser. The funds raised at the annual auction provide tuition assistance (over half of PJA students receive TA) and essential operating support for PJA. Be a Sponsor. Solicit Donations. Attend and make a gift. There are lots of volunteer opportunities as well. For more information, go to pjaproud.org/auction.
Dor L’dor Society
Remember PJA in your will, trust, retirement plan or life insurance policy. For information contact Steve Albert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next time a loved one celebrates a birthday, anniversary, graduation, bar/bat mitzvah, make a gift to PJA in their honor. You can also make a gift in someone’s memory or make a tribute in honor of your child(ren)’s teacher. Tribute forms are available at pjaproud.org or in the PJA office.
When you have a question or concern, please use the following table to determine who at PJA to contact. Phone numbers and email addresses are available on the website.
Contact your student's teachers (lower school) or middle school advisor with questions about academic matters and/or student progress.
Principal: Merrill Hendin (email@example.com)
Director of Jewish Life - Amy Katz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Admission - Day School: Sarah Glass (email@example.com)
Afterschool Programs: Sean Bartlett (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alumni: Lisa Katon (email@example.com)
Athletics/Team Sports: Matt Rosenberg (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Attendance - to report an absence: Richard Boyd (email@example.com)
Attendance - Lower School pre-arranged absence: Classroom Teacher
Attendance - Middle School pre-arranged absence: Richard Boyd (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Auction: Rosanne Levi (email@example.com)
Carpool Dismissal: Richard Boyd (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Counseling - Lower and Middle School: Nick Dysken (email@example.com)
Early Childhood Programs: Erika Saiers (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Early Childhood - Schedule/Registration: Lexie Quandt (Lquandt@pjaproud.org)
Fundraising/Development: Saul Korin (email@example.com)
Kehillah Organization: Tsvia Faclieru and Sandra Valle (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Kehillah Organization (Preschool): TBD
Student Records - Day School: Richard Boyd (email@example.com)
Tuition Assistance and other Financial Matters: Beth Germain (firstname.lastname@example.org)
PJA Board of Directors
Jason Zidell, President
Danelle Romain, President Elect
John Emshwiller, Vice President
Richard Barker, Treasurer
Jonathan Singer, Secretary
Steve Klein, Immediate Past President
Steve Albert, Executive Director
Beth Germain, Chief Financial Officer
Merrill Hendin, Principal
Amy Katz, Director of Jewish Life
Sarah Glass, Director of Admissions
Erika Saiers, Director of Early Childhood Education
Kim Krikorian, Assistant Director of Early Childhood Education
Sean Bartlett, Director of Afterschool Programs
Miriam Stroud, Director of Human Resources
Saul Korin, Director of Donor Engagement and Philanthropy
Lisa Katon, Donor Relations and Grant Specialist
Denise Littlefield, Financial Assistant
Chris Roberts, Financial/HR Assistant
Becky Ewer, Marketing and Creative Director
Eden Samiee, Executive Administrative Assistant
Anna Hixon, Graphic Designer and Marketing Specialist
Han Ngo, IT Director
Brian Darnel, IT Assistant
Richard Boyd, Registrar, Admin. Assistant
Rosanne Levi, Purchasing Agent and Auction Manager
Mary Steinberg, Auction Assistant
Lexi Quandt, Preschool Registrar, Admin. Assistant