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  • Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School


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    Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

    Founding year: 1965
    Website: Visit Website
    Number of students: 0
    Genders Accepted: Mixed (Co-education)
    Leadership: Mitchel Malkus (Head)
    Number of staff: 0

    Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CESJDS) is the only pluralistic Junior Kindergarten-Grade 12 community school in the Washington, D.C. area, and only a few in the United States. We are a welcoming, inclusive community united by our shared Jewish values, and we embrace a broad spectrum of Jewish backgrounds, beliefs, and practices.

    Our comprehensive dual-curriculum invokes deep and critical thinking, and our students are guided by dedicated and gifted faculty. CESJDS graduates emerge as confident and compassionate life-long learners who lead positive change in the world.

    When we teach and confront students with the Jewish value concept that their bodies are sacred, that each person is endowed with uniqueness and that relationships between people should be viewed as holy, we can present a perspective that pushes back against the prevailing cultural norms. Jewish educators can and should do better in teaching our teens around these issues. We need to re-engage in conversations and planning around how our curricula and programs confront the current cultural assumptions that teens are socialized into. At the same time, our communities start with the advantage that this discussion is taking place with value concepts and framing counter-cultural language. Together, Jewish educators and parents can continue to create the conditions for positive teen cultures.

    CESJDS, as many schools do, employs theme-based learning as an instructional strategy in a variety of settings. Each year, we also establish a school-wide learning theme. This year we have chosen Derkh Eretz, ethical behavior, to serve as that connective thread. What is the educational value of instruction based around themes, rather than just teaching each subject area individually?

    The Soviet psychologist, Lev Vygotsky, conducted significant research into the role language plays in cognitive development. His findings suggest an explicit connection between speech/language and the development of mental concepts. The way we speak and the language we use helps us learn information and gives it meaning. When we use a specific theme for instruction, we enable the human brain to establish meaning and assign value.

    A second reason for using thematic learning is to provide a cognitive "hook" to store the information. A theme creates a relevant context for learning and serves as an aid for remembering what is taught. When we use a theme as the connective thread between discreet learning, students have a place to put, organize, and recall what they have learned. In this way, thematic learning structures teaching in a way that supports student growth.

    Cognitive science also suggests that an interdisciplinary approach to learning leads to an increase in understanding and applying general concepts. Using a theme as an organizing principle enables teachers to provide an interdisciplinary approach that helps students understand better and then apply the knowledge and information they have learned.

    Finally, research indicates that a thematic/interdisciplinary approach is better suited to teach students cognitive skills such as cooperation, problem-solving, and the ability to see connections. Using a theme sets up a structure whereby students naturally will need to develop these thinking and working skills.

    When a school or a teacher chooses a learning theme, the idea often emerges from a desire to emphasize a specific topic. Educators can then use that topic to teach the general skills, knowledge, and concepts required within the curriculum. But beyond emphasizing a particular topic, cognitive science indicates that thematic learning is a powerful instructional strategy for learning in general. We deliver an exemplary and inspiring general and Jewish education. Our core values:

    • Lifelong learning inspired by a strong, comprehensive academic program of general and Judaic studies that prioritizes critical, independent, and creative thought and expression.
    • Knowledge of and appreciation for the wisdom, spiritual depth, and ethical guidance of Judaism.
    • Perception of God's presence in the awe and wonder of our world and how we can sanctify our lives through the practice and experience of the mitzvot.
    • An inextricable bond with the Jewish people – past, present, and future. A strong personal and ongoing relationship with Israel, its history, people, and culture. An appreciation for and mastery of Hebrew as the language and voice of the Jewish people.
    • Passionate desire, active engagement, and individual/collective commitment to repair the world make it more compassionate and peaceful.
    • A principled commitment to the diversity of Jewish backgrounds, beliefs, and practices of our community of students, teachers, and parents. We unite through our shared values and cultivate respect and knowledge inspired by our differences.
    • A deep commitment to b'tzelem Elokim (each individual is created in the image of God) and Derekh Eretz (ethical decency).
    • A vibrant, caring, moral community based upon the concepts of the-but and arrived (individual and collective responsibility).

    CESJDS is a learning community committed to diversity and inclusion. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion emanates from the School's core values of K' dushah (Holiness), V'ahavta L'rei-akha (Loving your Neighbor), Kehillah (Community), and pluralism. Our community is intellectually and morally strengthened when many different voices, viewpoints, and backgrounds learn with and from each other. We facilitate experiences to educate students towards a richer understanding and appreciation of diversity so that they are better prepared to contribute meaningfully to the diverse world in which we live.





    Address: Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, 1901 E Jefferson St, Rockville,, Maryland, 20852, United States

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