Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School delivers an outstanding integrated education from SK to Grade 8. The multi-faceted Jewish school day is designed to meet or exceed all of the expectations of the Ontario Ministry of Education, and to develop a facility with Hebrew and a deep understanding of Judaism. The day is split into roughly 2/3 General Studies, taught by the Core (homeroom) teacher, and 1/3 Hebrew and Torah Studies, taught by the Hebrew teacher. Interspersed throughout the week, French, music, gym, and technology are taught by specialist teachers.
The day runs from 8:45 AM to 3:45 PM for SK to Grade 5 and 8:45 AM to 3:30 PM for Grade 6-8, with shorter breaks for recess and lunch. Extra student care is available both before and after school for elementary aged students. Daily learning at Paul Penna DJDS is reflective of our seven values and taught through a unique lens at the intersection of Jewish and Urban life.
Our General Studies are designed to examine large concepts through the development of skills and knowledge associated with specific disciplines and through the application of critical thinking skills. Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, French, the arts and Judaism, in its broadest sense, are integrated to help the students make sense of the world and all of its complexities. This multidisciplinary approach encourages students to make connections between themselves and the world around them, in both the past and present and considering their local, national and international communities.
Math is taught with a balance of concepts and skills and in Middle School with an accelerated curriculum that touches on high school math in the Grade 8 year. Math concepts are integrated into other subject areas where it adds to greater understanding of the world. In Middle School, a greater emphasis is placed on expertise knowledge of teachers; integration is woven in at natural junctures, and depth of subject specific expertise is highlighted.
Judaic learning encompasses Hebrew language education, Torah learning, Jewish studies and Israel studies. Hebrew is taught primarily as a contemporary language as it is currently spoken in Israel. Through Torah and broader Jewish studies students also learn how it carries the content and significance of Jewish tradition, as it has evolved over the millennia and as it has been preserved in Jewish texts. Our Torah (Hebrew Bible) Studies probe deeply into the timeless narratives that have shaped our collective identities and relate to our current realities as well as in later years teach students how to chant Torah, in advance of their B’nei mitzvah experiences. Jewish history, prayer, culture, literacy, and tradition are taught from an egalitarian, pluralistic perspective that respects diversity in all its forms. A deep relationship with Israel is inspired through the study of its rich and complex modern and biblical history, culture, political and ethnic diversity, as well as its relevance to Canadian and world Jewish identity. Students further develop their connection to Israel through our Shin Shinim program, young Israeli students who dedicate a year of service that is spent in Toronto working at Paul Penna DJDS and a partner organization.
Finally, our academic program is enhanced by a co-curricular curriculum that takes place both outside the regular school day and during recess, with activities such as sports, chess, eco club, student union, film-making, and choir. In middle school, the students all work together to develop and perform a musical theatre performance.