Ben Zoma says: Who is wise? He who learns from every person.
– Ethics of Our Fathers 4:1
Programming that extends beyond the bounds of the classroom helps students take their learning to a higher level.
Hands-on, personal learning experiences that purposefully engage students in direct experience help students to increase knowledge, develop skills, and clarify values, all taking their learning to a deeper level. At Denver Jewish Day School, every grade (K-12) incorporates hands-on learning, field work, and other experiential opportunities into the curriculum.
Middle school is an important time for students not only academically, but also socially and emotionally. At Denver JDS as our students begin to blossom into young adults, we embrace the reality of their social and emotional needs and are especially attuned to them through our middle school Advisory Program. Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders meet daily, in a small group, with a faculty advisor. This "check-in" allows us to develop and maintain a close connection with our students. It also helps to ensure that every student feels known and has at least one adult on the faculty with whom they can process and problem solve. The advisory curriculum includes:
- health education
- team building
- successful peer-to-peer relationships
- academic organization
Additionally, all middle school students participate in the school's social and emotional wellness program run by Dean of Technology and Programs Josh Lake and licensed psychologist Dr. Rachel Gall.
Believing that students learn best by doing, teachers in every grade (K-12) work to incorporate experiential elements into their classes through guest speakers, experiments, debates, simulations, and other opportunities for students to truly experience their learning.
Connected, immersive opportunities take classroom learning deeper and make it more meaningful. In the Lower Division, these opportunities include Helping Hands projects (such as visiting Jewish Family Service of Colorado, meeting and learning about service dogs, building and delivering bikes for low-income kindergartners to name a few); visits to shofar and matzah factories for younger students; theater events, trips to Roxborough State Park, Miller's Farm, and backstage at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts , as well as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for higher grades. In the Upper Division, opportunities include trips specifically tied to class curriculum such as a visit to a makerspace for research or a trip to the Denver Art Museum to view a special exhibit.
Overnight Trips and Programs
Overnight trips are one important component of the Denver JDS experiential learning curriculum. Beginning in third grade, each class includes an overnight trip in its curriculum. Destinations complement classroom learning units, and the shared experiences foster powerful bonds among students. Extended time away from parents and the rest of the school community also promotes independence and supports social and developmental growth.
Each fall, Denver JDS middle school and high school students participate in an in-town Shabbat retreat (Shabbaton) at a local synagogue. In the spring, seventh through 12th graders are invited to an out-of-town Shabbaton at the JCC Ranch Camp.
Organized and led under the guidance of the Upper Division student council, these inclusive programs give Denver JDS students an authentic opportunity to learn together and build meaningful relationships with one another across grade levels. In keeping with our pluralistic approach, all programming complies with the laws of Shabbat, and all food is certified kosher.
Color War is a unique school tradition that takes place each spring at Denver JDS. The week-long program incorporates academic, athletic, artistic, and Judaic components. All students in grades six through 12 come together for a time of intense learning and growth — that's also a lot of fun. Lower Division students love to get in on the fun of Color War by cheering on Upper Division students during competitions. Our fourth and fifth graders get a "taste of” Color War by participating in some of the week's activities. Click here to learn more about Color War.