At Atlanta Jewish Academy, our vision centers around three values:
“The task of religious teaching is to be a midwife and bring about the birth of a question.” --Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
“And God created man in His image.” --Genesis 1:27
“All of Israel is responsible for one another.” --Talmud, Shavuot 39a
“Identity involves duty, commitment, loyalty and fidelity. It comes wrapped up with a sense of obligation. Identity is the point at which ‘I am’ shades into ‘I must’ — because these are my people and this is my heritage. Identity involves responsibility.” --Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
These three values — Critical Minds, Compassionate Hearts, Committed Leaders—inform our educational philosophy and practice.
- The social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum.
- How children learn is as important as what they learn: Process and content go hand in hand.
- The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
- To be successful academically and socially, children need a set of social skills that we refer to as CARES: Cooperation, Assertiveness, Responsibility and Respect, Empathy, and Self-control.
- Knowing the children we teach--individually, culturally, and developmentally--is as important as knowing the content we teach.
- Knowing the families of the children we teach and working with them as partners is essential to children's education.
- How the adults at school work together is as important as their individual competence: Lasting change begins with the adult community.
In addition, at AJA we are committed to being a developmentally responsive school that emphasizes the importance of teaching social, emotional, and academic skills in a positive and safe school community. Our approach consists of classroom and school-wide practices that afford us the opportunity to deliberately teach academic and social-emotional competencies appropriate for each age.
At the heart of this approach are ten classroom practices that we implement at AJA's Greenfield Lower School and Middle School:
- Morning Meeting - gathering as a whole class each morning to greet one another, share news, and warm up for the day ahead. In Middle School, this meeting is referred to as CPR (Circle of Power and Respect).
- Rule Creation - helping students create classroom rules to ensure an environment that allows all class members to meet their learning goals
- Interactive Modeling - teaching children to notice and internalize expected behaviors through a unique modeling technique
- Positive Teacher Language - using words and tone as a tool to promote children's active learning, sense of community, and self-discipline
- Logical Consequences - responding to misbehavior in a way that allows children to fix and learn from their mistakes while preserving their dignity
- Guided Discovery - introducing classroom materials using a format that encourages independence, creativity, and responsibility
- Academic Choice - increasing student learning by allowing students teacher-structured choices in their work
- Classroom Organization - setting up the physical room in ways that encourage students' independence, cooperation, and productivity
- Working with Families - creating avenues for hearing parents' insights and helping them understand the school's teaching approaches
- Collaborative Problem Solving - using conferencing, role playing, and other strategies to resolve problems with students
(Responsive Classroom, North East Foundation for children).
At Atlanta Jewish Academy Upper School, our teachers employ differentiated instruction in both Judaic and general studies in order to accommodate the varied learning styles of our students. The faculty and staff are engaged in ongoing professional development to enhance the students’ academic experience and to model the dynamic process of learning. We value our partnership with the parents and students in the students’ education.
We understand that adolescent growth involves four areas: intellectual, social-emotional, physical, and religious-spiritual. To nurture the well-rounded student, the school promotes participation in sports, fine arts, and service learning in addition to academic excellence. Our nurturing environment offers many opportunities for students to develop their own identities, both in the secular world and the Jewish community.