Our Middle School focuses on the unique academic, emotional and spiritual needs of children in this age group. The Middle School has its own open learning environment that is connected and yet set apart from the Lower School. Our challenging curriculum in general and Judaic studies engages students in active, meaningful lessons and helps them develop the critical thinking skills needed for lifelong problem-solving.
Middle School Curriculum
Jewish Living and Learning
Every day, we live Judaism joyfully—interacting with one another and the world at large in ways that reflect respect, collaboration, and a shared commitment to Torah and mitzvot. In order to experience all that we teach, SAR has a longstanding tradition of holding school during Chol HaMoed Sukkot, Chanukah, and Purim. Our school days enhance each chag by giving us the opportunity to celebrate and learn in experiential ways, from sukkah hopping on Sukkot and school-wide candle lighting on Chanukah, to singing Hallel together on the famous SAR steps on Yom Ha’atzmaut, and gathering in costume to hear our Middle School students, both boys and girls, read Megillat Esther on Purim. Every Rosh Chodesh, we strive to create an environment that celebrates the unique spirit of the day. We ask students to dress in blue and white (on the first day of Rosh Chodesh when it is two days) on these days. Our Middle School students enjoy Shabbatonim to celebrate Shabbat together meaningfully as a community.
Developing deep connections to Hashem is a paramount value at SAR. Beginning in our Early Learning Center (ELC), children participate in daily tefillah, connecting to traditional tefillot and learning so that they can communicate with Hashem each day. In 6th grade, we begin to strategically prepare students for entering the age of mitzvot, ensuring that they are prepared to be active leaders in a minyan. Starting in 6th grade, girls have the option to daven in a separate women’s tefilah. Beginning in Grade 7, davening takes place with a minyan. In addition to engaging in a full shacharit and mincha daily, the middle school teaches a tefilah curriculum during our homeroom class. This curriculum highlights the history and meaning around various tefilot, enhancing students’ connection to what they are saying.
Our students are charged with learning the texts of the Torah and spend time in their classes deciphering the text and exploring it. We begin teaching Gemara in Grade 6. All classes are Ivrit b’Ivrit, although students with limited Judaic Studies skills can be placed in classes primarily taught in English when they reach Middle School. Text study and chevruta are at the epicenter of all Tanach and Gemara work. In the Middle School, through an exciting program called Limud@SAR, students are offered a wide array of supplemental Torah learning opportunities including Chidon HaTanach, Daf Yomi L’Yeladim, Mishna Madness, Torah & Cocoa Club: Halacha Yomi, Ta’amei HaMitzvot, a pre-Shabbat tisch (including cholent), Torah Road Trip (an advanced Torah learning elective), and more. We help students prepare for meaningful bar and bat mitzvah celebrations by offering parent-child learning programs in the evenings.
Special Bar and Bat Mitzvah Learning at SAR
5th Grade girls and 6th Grade boys are invited to a special evening program with their teachers, administrators and parents to learn about the significance of this special time and to review guidelines for in-school and out-of-school celebrations. We also conduct monthly evening learning programs for parents and students who are in their bar/bat mitzvah year:
Matan Bat Mitzvah Program
6th Grade girls and their parents are invited to learn about Jewish women through the ages using multi-disciplinary methods that incorporate text study along with drama, art and music.
Bar Mitzvah and Beyond
7th Grade boys and their parents are invited to participate in this program to deepen their understanding of what it means to become a bar mitzvah by answering the “Whats, Whys and Hows” of this important milestone.
In School-Bar / Bat Mitzvah Celebrations
We are happy to facilitate in-school smachot, either in the minyan, the women’s tefillah, or your child’s homeroom. Some in-school simcha celebration options include Dvar Torah in Class or Tefillah Group; Torah Reading; Aliya; Hanachat Tefillin; Homeroom Gift Presentation; or Tefillah Gift Presentation.
Literacy and Language Development
The Grades 6-8 English Language Arts department aims to develop independent thinkers who love reading and become confident in their ability to approach new and challenging texts and communicate clearly, both verbally and in writing.
We focus on developing independence in reading skills including analyzing character development and larger themes; using textual references to support point of view; identifying and commenting on characters, theme, plot, setting, perspective, and conflict; and identifying literary devices. By the end of Grade 8, students are making independent analytical notes on text, identifying and commenting on themes, symbols, literary techniques, and elements; and comparing and contrasting the use of literary elements across different texts.
The writing skills we aim to develop in the beginning of Middle School include organizing writing into proper paragraph format; utilizing varying vocabulary and transition phrases effectively; and developing details using examples to support. We progress to constructing complex and varied sentences, and by Grade 8, students generate relevant ideas to support a topic sentence and thesis statement; construct complex and varied sentences and use sophisticated transitions among ideas in sentences; and integrate content-specific vocabulary in writing.
Math and Science
SAR Middle School students develop analytical thinking, number sense, math vocabulary, and learn to decode, communicate, and reason mathematically. Classes are leveled but are configured flexibly so students can advance or receive more support as needed. The majority of our students complete Algebra in grade 8, preparing them to advance to Geometry in grade 9.
Middle School Science
Throughout Middle School, students develop and expand various science skills to help them think and act like scientists and engineers: identifying a problem; writing hypothesis statements; collecting, recording, and interpreting data; supporting a scientific claim with evidence and reasoning; creating and interpreting graphs; using laboratory equipment properly; reading and comprehending information in science articles/text to engage in meaningful scientific discussions; designing and evaluating a design plan; developing and using a model to predict and describe phenomenon; exchanging ideas and working collaboratively; and more.
Hebrew Immersion and Israel
Our overarching goal is to equip students with the skills of language and communication—listening, writing, reading, and speaking.
In Middle School Ivrit classes, students learn to listen for main ideas and details, read independently, and understand the main idea and details of stories written or told in Hebrew.
We focus on writing skills which guide the students to build sentences correctly, use proper spelling and tenses, and expand the writing of a paragraph. We aim to develop speaking skills by giving students many opportunities to express themselves, and build their confidence to speak in front of the class.
One of our core values at SAR is the love of, support of, and connection to Medinat Yisrael. Our students cultivate a love of Israel in both Judaic Studies and General Studies and outside of our formal learning setting through a dedicated Israel curriculum (developed by the Lookstein Center at Bar Ilan University) taught throughout the year in Grades 1-8; hands-on lessons about ancient and modern Israeli history; discussions about current events in Israel; streams of blue and white clothing on Rosh Chodesh; chagigot, daglanut, and a community barbeque on Yom Ha’Atzmaut; a solemn, student-led ceremony on Yom HaZikaron to honor victims of terror and chayalim who have lost their lives while defending Medinat Yisrael; and more.
Beyond the Classroom
Students embark on various field trips, which help bring their classroom curricula to life, including visits to museums, zoos, parks, gardens, courthouses and parades as well as other locations in order to take their studies from theory to practice.
Students and teachers in Grades 6-8 will attend overnight grade-wide trips that foster bonding, camaraderie and pride in their accomplishments as a group. Experiences may include learning about nature, team-building, sports, tefilla, divrei Torah, sightseeing, and more. Sixth Graders typically enjoy a Shabbaton at SAR, and a trip to Camp Moshava IO, the 7th Grade students participate in a Yachad Shabbaton in New Rochelle and visit Boston, and the 8th Graders travel to Washington, DC and enjoy a long weekend Shabbaton at Camp Seneca Lake.
Student Learning Center (SLC)
SAR is committed to making learning accessible for diverse learners. The SLC is a daily period for students who require and would benefit from additional support in a small group setting with more individualized attention to maximize his/her learning potential. The program is designed to address all children’s learning needs while helping them become more independent learners.
Pisgah at SAR
At SAR, we believe in creating a culture and infrastructure of inclusion and are committed to supporting the growth and learning needs of ALL children. Pisgah offers a hybrid approach allowing students to receive the support they need while also allowing for them to be in a general classroom setting. Each Pisgah cohort consists of a small group model of generally no more than five students. A team made up of a Special Education teacher, General Education teacher, Speech Pathologist, Behaviorist, and Occupational Therapist work together to create goals for each individual student. Once goals are set, a schedule is created with a mix of push-in and pull-out remedial services to support the child toward meeting those goals. This methodology allows for strong peer models, access to a rich, robust curriculum, and the intensive support a student may need.
The Pisgah Program has two tracks:
- Language-Based Learning Disabilities/Dyslexia Track: For some students, language-based learning disabilities, including dyslexia, interfere with their ability to learn to read and write with ease.
- Sensory Integration and Executive Function Track: For some students, social and emotional learning challenges, including sensory integration and executive function deficits, result in a level of dysregulation that interferes with their ability to reach their potential academically and/or socially.
Pisgah is the Hebrew word for summit, and reflects SAR’s commitment to ensuring that students are given the support they need to climb their own personal mountain and reach their own personal summit in an educationally and socially supportive community environment.
Specialties & Co-Curriculars
We offer a wide array of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) opportunities to better prepare our students of all ages for the 21st century. Our STEM activities range from curricular enhancements within the classrooms to specialties during the school day and electives offered as after school programming.
Students engage in a robust robotics curriculum, building on previous experience and knowledge, and are introduced to the maker movement with design challenges with the goal of helping make the world a better place. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the First Lego League Competition.
STEM Curriculum in Grades 6-8
Students learn to program Spike Prime robots using Scratch as well as to modify C++ code to program Arduinos. Using coding, circuitry and engineering, students create and animate 3D projects. Other STEM opportunities include Minecraft projects, Hydraulics, Urban Planning, Bey Blade Explorations, and Greenhouse Design.
Inquiry-Based Science Curriculum in Grades 6-7
Physical Science (Gr. 6) and Life Science (Gr. 7) classes are taught by posing a real-world question and answering that dilemma through hands-on activities, laboratory experiments, small group discussions, and science reading.
Engineering Curriculum in Grade 8
Students are immersed in the engineering design process as they study various fields of engineering such as materials, civil, and aerospace. Chemistry, physics, and engineering concepts are highlighted as they relate to the units of study.
Names, Not Numbers
All eighth grade students participate in “Names Not Numbers,” which takes the lessons of the Holocaust beyond the classroom. The Holocaust documentary program, founded by Tovah Fish-Rosenberg, is a multidisciplinary curriculum unit which included a trip to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC, a comprehensive Holocaust unit in Social Studies, and reading “Night” by Elie Wiesel in English. Students conduct research through Web Quests and video-interviews, and they learn documentary film tools. Throughout the project, the students take field trips, work with local journalists and collaborate with a professional filmmaker as they create an original documentary about Holocaust survivors.
Art & Music
Middle School students participate in formalized ARTS programming that includes drawing and painting, ceramics, digital art, creating music through the use of GarageBand, and more.
Lunch & After-School Clubs
Middle School students have the opportunity to participate in a range of lunch clubs, including: debate, Newspaper, Yearbook, CPR, middle school band, volunteering in the ELC, and the media club. Offerings are expanded and evolve on an on-going basis
Middle School Athletics
Physical Education & Movement
Our motto, “Skills that Last a Lifetime,” indicates our primary objective, establishing and fostering healthy and appropriate social, emotional, cognitive, and physical habits in every child’s development within a fun learning environment through sports, games, movement, and fitness. All students will explore a wide range of physical activities, including various age-appropriate skills related to fitness, manipulatives, sports, movement, creative tasks, and cooperative activities. We use physical activities to teach them how to strategize, interact with each other, and challenge themselves, to name a few. Our program strives to help students succeed in all areas regardless of their skill level and expose them to various components of healthy lifestyles through active participation. We want them to achieve optimal productivity with their minds and bodies.
The Middle School program is focused on advancing students’ physical, cognitive, and social well-being through sports and fitness. The rules and terminology of sports and games will be improved, building on the previous PE stage. Social skills, sportsmanship, and personal improvements will continue to be emphasized.
SAR Academy sports teams provide an opportunity for students to learn sportsmanship, respect, responsibility, loyalty, commitment, teamwork, dedication and fair play.
Participation on an SAR Academy athletic team is both a responsibility and a privilege.
We offer a variety of intramurals and teams for students in Grades 6-8. Practices take place after school and for some teams, on Sundays. In a typical year, each team plays approximately ten inter-school games followed by playoffs.
SAR Academy sports teams provide an opportunity for students to learn sportsmanship, respect, responsibility, loyalty, commitment, teamwork, dedication and fair play.
Students may embark on various field trips, which help bring their classroom curricula to life, including visits to museums, zoos, parks, gardens, courthouses and parades as well as other locations in order to take their studies from theory to practice.
SAR Academy is a Modern Orthodox co-educational day school dedicated to the belief that every child possesses a divine spark, has unique worth as an individual and should be encouraged to achieve according to his or her ability.
SAR Academy is a Modern Orthodox co-educational day school dedicated to the belief that every child possesses a divine spark, has unique worth as an individual and should be encouraged to achieve according to his or her ability. Our warm environment promotes confidence, creativity and enthusiasm for learning. In our approach to academics, we nurture students to develop intellectual curiosity, critical thinking skills and a lifelong love of both Torah and Secular studies. We have created a program committed to excellence in every aspect of our educational goals:
- To foster a community of b’nai and b’not torah who demonstrate sensitivity for their peers, respect for their teachers and environment, loyalty to their country, and an appreciation of the differences in others.
- To advance and develop each student towards a value and mastery of Hebrew language, Judaic Studies, and General Studies.
- To raise our students’ connection to Hashem (Ahavat Hashem and Yir’at Shamayim), commitment to Talmud Torah, observance of Mitzvot and connection to Medinat Yisrael.
- To educate by nurturing and challenging each student to reach his or her individual potential.