Students enter Middle School (MS) and are immediately asked to analyze, challenge, question and mine the complexity of earlier gained knowledge and previously held assumptions. From Theology to Thoreau; from the Holocaust to the double helix - JDS students tackle life’s perplexing questions and learn to appreciate and respond to life’s most beautiful and courageous answers. Through their immersive study of Hebrew, Jewish history and Jewish text, students connect to the energy and the positive precedents of their tradition. Through the study of Humanities, Science and Mathematics, students bring their unique perspectives and sensibilities to the more general world of ideas.
These are busy and meaningful years for MS students. It is JDS’ critical task to help these burgeoning inquirers learn for today and prepare for tomorrow. Ultimately, a JDS education prepares students for life.
MS students concentrate on the following core academic subjects:
• Language Arts
• Social Studies
• Judaic Studies
• Student Council
• *JDS 8th Grade Israel Experience
*JDS’ 8th Grade community travels to Israel for two weeks each spring prior to graduation.
Journey and Growth Electives (JAG): In addition to our extensive physical education and competitive athletics programs, our MS further expands student exposure to arts and music by allowing students to select one of five different electives for a ten session trimester: this is our Journey and Growth program (JAG). JAG electives include or have included: 3D Printing & Design, Architecture, Art, Astronomy, Business and Economics, Computer Programming, Discover with Drawing & Cartooning, Fashion Design, Green Leadership Team, Knitting, Marimba, Music, Playwriting, Pottery, Robotics, Yearbook and more!
Science & Curiosity Fair: The Science and Curiosity Fair invites all JDS students and includes all MS students in developing an individual project to explore a personal passion. Students identify an area of interest, devise a project, engage in research or experimentation, gather and present results and reflect on the learning process. Our MS students are guided through this process by faculty, and present their results at the judged Science and Curiosity Fair in late February. Student-explored topics have included:
• What is muscle memory and how does it work?
• What is the impact of dam construction and removal?
• What is gene mutation?
• Who are the KKK?
• How does the stock market work?
• How can I refute Holocaust denial?
Class Meetings: Weekly class meetings allow the MS to use Positive Discipline principles to monitor their own actions as well as the actions of their classmates. Class meeting agendas are set by students and, over the course of the MS years, students are empowered to become class meeting facilitators as well. Class meetings teach students to be the owners and actors of their own fate - and help students in the essential skills of self-reflection and collaboration.
• The Circle of Power and Respect (CPR) is a daily gathering of MS students that builds community and provides a safe space for students to develop strong relationships and social skills. Based in the work of Developmental Designs and Responsive Classroom, our MS team has developed a daily program designed to meet multiple learning needs.
• Mixed Advisory: students meet in a small mixed group (6th, 7th and 8th Grade students) with their advisor twice a week
• Grade Level Meeting: each grade meets with two teachers once a week
• All Middle School Meeting: the entire MS student body and faculty gather once a week
LRC (Learning Resource Center): Valuing diversity and individual learning styles/profiles, JDS is fortunate to have a Learning Resource Center with several learning specialists who consult with teaching teams and parents, and offer support/instruction to students as they strive to reach their academic potential.