Where the Best Get Even Better
It is our goal to start our Middle School children on the road toward feelings of success and achievement that come from commitment, ownership, and responsibility for their own educational progress. Our Middle School is divided up into Lower Middle School (5th and 6th grades) and Upper Middle School (7th and 8th grades). Our Middle School experience capitalizes on our students’ increasing ability to think abstractly. AJA encourages our students to develop complex strategies for thinking about the world in which they live. We provide a structure in which students safely strive for independence and individual uniqueness. How do we do this?
- Every teacher is knowledgeable about the philosophy of the Middle School.
- Every teacher places a high priority on building a school, team, and classroom climate that is conducive to learning.
- Every teacher recognizes that the Middle School is different and unique from the elementary school and the high school, and values working with this age group.
- Every teacher in the Middle School understands the emotional and physical changes that are happening and are in tune with young adolescents, their needs and development and how they learn effectively.
- Every teacher uses a wide variety of instructional and differentiated strategies to foster curiosity, exploration, and creativity.
- Every teacher is committed to create a safe, supportive learning environment for ALL students.
- Every teacher helps prepare students to achieve and develop the self-confidence needed to handle the hurdles they will encounter in their lives beyond the classroom.
General Studies Overview
There is a core curriculum at each grade level that is presented at an appropriate level of complexity and intensity, allowing each student to grow at his or her own rate. Additionally students who require enrichment will explore non-standard topics as well as extensions of standard concepts. They will also use advanced reasoning skills to solve problems that link more complex math concepts one to the other. We annually participate in the Math Counts competition and the Math Olympiad, where our students continually place within the top 10% of all schools competing.
The approach of our science program is Project-Based Inquiry (PBI). This approach does not only teach students the facts and formulas; they also learn science practices, scientific reasoning, and how to apply the facts and skills that they learn. This combination of project execution and inquiry-driven investigation is a hallmark of PBI learning.
This course consists of three distinct, yet integrated disciplines; the literature we choose is directly related to themes of adolescent development as well as themes that surface in social studies. Focusing on traditional grammar provides a basis for the instruction of effective writing. An understanding of the writing process is taught in order that the students learn to organize their ideas into clear, coherent paragraphs and essays. Our goal with reading is to read across the curriculum, integrating all subject areas into the curriculum. Many of our students enjoy the experience of participating in the annual regional Spelling Bee.
Our social studies curriculum is integrated with language arts. Research papers, reading comprehension, and writing are all integrated using literature and social studies texts relevant to the area being studied in class.
At AJA, our students are taught the fundamentals of Judaism and the timeless values of the Jewish community. Our goal is for students to construct meaningful Jewish lives where they feel a connection to the Jewish people--past, present, and future.
Students participate in daily tefillah, Torah and Hebrew study. Hebrew Language and Israel education continue throughout the child’s years at AJA, culminating in a trip to Israel in eighth grade. AJA is a center of learning for the whole family, and numerous events are planned to help bring students and families together to experience the richness of Jewish tradition.AJA's founders fervently envisioned and built a place where Jews could and should respect each other, learn from each other, feel responsibility toward each other, and work for the community's greater good. The simplicity and eloquence of their perspective resonates as much today as it did then. It is what we intuitively understand about the school. It is what all of us--board members, teachers and parents--strive for. It encapsulates the vision of the great sage, Hillel, who challenges us in Pirkei Avot (2:6): "In a place where there are no mentches, strive to be a mentch."
This is why the Judaic teachings and practices of our school adhere to a traditional (halakhic) interpretation of laws and customs. Applying both the latest in pedagogy and the "tried and true," we teach the classical Jewish texts in their own original languages, inspiring our students and grounding them in morals and ethics. We hope that each child develops a strong Jewish identity that expresses itself in a commitment to lifelong learning, a deep relationship with God, and deeds of loving kindness.
Strong Connection to Israel
The historical and religious importance of the State of Israel is central to our teaching, programs and philosophy. Our students develop a strong connection to Israel and her people; they understand and converse in the Modern Hebrew language. Our Middle School students take courses in the History of Israel in 7th and 8th grades.
- 5th Grade – Dahlonega in the spring
- 6th Grade – Huntsville in the fall
- 7th Grade – Washington in the spring
- 8th Grade – Israel in the spring
Franeen Sarif, Assistant Principal and Director of Middle School
Mrs. Franeen Sarif has been a member of the faculty since 1993 and is currently the Director of our Middle School. She has taught math and science in the 6th grade for several years as well as Pre-Algebra to 7th and 8th graders. Mrs. Sarif was born in Cape Town, South Africa and emigrated to the United States in 1986, where she made Atlanta her home. When she taught in Cape Town, Mrs. Sarif was the lead math and science teacher in the 7th grade for 4 years as well as the coach for the tennis team.