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Relationships at PJA

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Relationships at PJA
Adam Zappa

One of the wonderful aspects of our school is the emphasis on relationships. The teachers and students at PJA are teaching and learning at a unique time in history. Our focus remains on the wellness of our community, and sense of belonging in our halls.

Cross-grade level “buddies” is a common program in independent and public schools alike, and it is a truly meaningful way to have students learn from one another and develop relationships outside of their classroom. In most schools, buddies will meet once or twice per quarter, given the challenges of finding time within the schedule. At PJA, I have had the pleasure of watching these students meet with one another many times in the few months we have been together. Not only do they meet during scheduled times, but often I see middle schoolers go to and interact with their buddies during transition times, or recess, often then turning to me and proudly stating “that’s my buddy.” 

The teachers at PJA hold their students to appropriate academic standards, which prepares them for the world beyond. What I find so impressive is that they also prioritize the time and energy necessary to build strong relationships with their students. This is crucial because it models to the students the importance of positive relationships, and the work required to build them, and it also optimizes the learning environment. I have always said that a child will only do their best learning when they feel connected to their school community.

When PJA students eventually move on, they may not remember everything that they learned from their teachers in the classroom. They will, however, remember the way that they were made to feel. The adults here know that, and they have put systems, specialists, and incredible opportunities in place to make sure that students are getting the love that they need and deserve.