Magen David Academy
curriculum
Curriculum
The MDA curriculum is designed to provide students with a learning environment that helps them become positive, self-directed learners. Our objective is to develop within each student a sense of self-worth and understanding of his or her own capabilities, while learning to respect and appreciate individual and cultural differences.

MDA uses the Common Core State Standards in conjunction with the Core Knowledge curriculum, both used in the United States and internationally. For more information, visit www.corestandards.org and www.coreknowledge.org
Curriculum Goals
  • Create life-long learners by nurturing a strong sense of curiosity combined with the ability to analyze and think independently.
  • Achieve academic excellence in a challenging, yet flexible learning environment in order to prepare students for higher education at the university of their choice as well as the international job market.
  • Establish a strong foundation of Judaic values and traditions so students can become successful members of the local and global Jewish community.
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  • Language of Instruction
    Magen David Academy is a multilingual school. English is the main language of instruction; however, students also have the benefit of learning Hebrew and Spanish. Multilingual education helps students be successful in an international institution of higher education and prepares them for the competitive global labor market.
    Elementary
    The MDA elementary curriculum focuses on creating independent learners through a well-rounded academic experience. Every day, students engage in a variety of differentiated activities to enhance literacy within three languages (English, Spanish and Hebrew), further their critical thinking skills through mathematics, science, and social studies, and enrich their creativity through exposure to the fine arts and cutting edge technology. Students nurture and cement their Jewish identities through the daily study of Jewish traditions, the Torah, and Hebrew language, and develop a sense of teamwork and self-image though health and physical education.
    High School
    At the High School level, students are provided with an interdisciplinary education focused on the application of acquired knowledge to real-world circumstances. Students learn how mathematics, language arts, science, and social studies concepts are utilized in the everyday settings of home, community, and work, by extending what they have learned in one context to new contexts. An emphasis is placed on collaboration, utilization of tools and technologies to solve problems, and the application of general knowledge or principles to more complex situations. The overall goal of the high school curriculum is to prepare students for college entrance and the local and international job markets, as well as create upstanding members of the Jewish and global communities.
    MDA students graduate with a High School Diploma recognized by MEDUCA.
    Physical Education
    The physical education program at MDA is designed to provide students with a variety of physical and fundamental skills, while helping them understand the importance of achieving and maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. The physical education curriculum includes four areas of focus: athletics, movement, games, and fitness. Through these areas of focus, students develop the necessary skills to participate in more formalized sports, learn how to control the movement of their bodies, associate physical activity with enjoyment and fun, and challenge themselves to meet goals. For grades 5 and up, MDA has incorporated a health component into the physical education curriculum to address issues such as development, prevention, interpersonal relationships, body image, and gender roles. Both aspects of the curriculum promote healthy habits in students and help them build the self-confidence and discipline they need to succeed in all areas of their lives.
    Early Childhood Learning
    The early learning component of education at MDA is essential to the evolution and success of its students. The challenges of providing instruction in English to native Spanish-speakers are most effectively met by exposing students to the language at an early age. In addition, students are more prepared to handle MDA’s rigorous academic curriculum by the time they reach elementary school. Interactive educational resources such as Handwriting Without Tears and Jolly Phonics allow young students to build a strong literacy foundation and engage them in the learning process. At the Pre-Kinder level, students are introduced to core classes, Judaic studies, language classes in Hebrew and Spanish, physical education and sports, music, and art. Moreover, instilling important values and beliefs at the beginning of students’ education gives them a strong foundation to build upon for the rest of their educational careers.
    Middle School
    The middle school curriculum reinforces the skills and knowledge acquired at the Elementary level; however, additional elements are incorporated to address a critical stage of physical, emotional, and spiritual development in Jewish students’ lives. Emphasis is placed on preparation for the coming-of-age bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies through a complete study of the Torah, Jewish holidays and traditions, Tefillah, Hebrew, and Mitzvot or good deeds. Students reflect more deeply on their spirituality, take responsibility for their actions, and commit to continuing their Jewish education. Students also acquire a better knowledge of Panamanian civics through an in-depth study of national history, culture, and geography, and are encouraged to participate in an array of extra-curricular activities to develop their skills outside the classroom.
    Fine Arts
    At MDA, students are given the opportunity to develop their minds and intellectual capabilities using all forms of creative intelligence. Art, music, dance, and performance teach students how to communicate their feelings and thoughts through visual forms, sounds, and movements. Fine arts foster a love for learning and promote self-esteem, motivation, and social skills, as well as create aesthetic awareness and the ability to express one’s ideas and perceptions. Furthermore, students gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of their own cultural heritage and that of others. Through fine arts classes and activities, MDA hopes to improve learning in all areas of study and provide students with an enriching educational experience.
    Media Center
    MDA has two media centers, one for early childhood and elementary students, and the other for middle and high school students. Each media center is equipped with a variety of fiction and non-fiction books, a projector, and student computers. Students regularly attend media center classes where they participate in independent reading, reading comprehension activities, and enrichment projects. They also learn about the cataloguing system and how to use digital and multimedia resources.
technology
Technology
MDA realizes the importance of using technology and multimedia resources in the classroom, and is constantly assessing the need for additional resources with the purpose of providing students with a competitive and relevant education in a digital world. Currently, modern technology such as projectors, interactive white boards, and mobile laptop carts are used in the classroom to help students become more engaged and motivated about learning. In January of 2012, MDA piloted a one-to-one laptop initiative with its 9th grade students, and due to its success, decided to implement this initiative with an additional grade per school year.
tribes
Tribes
All MDA students from 1st through 12th grade belong to groups, or tribes, named after the 12 Tribes of Israel. These tribes include the Tribe of David, Tribe of Ephraim, Tribe of Judah, and Tribe of Benjamin. Students participate in tribe activities and have a ceremony every month where they can show off their skills and compete for points. They are also able to win points for their tribe in the classroom by displaying exceptional work habits and academic excellence. The objective of having a Tribe Program is to help students acquire the skills they need to become model citizens in a globally interconnected world. Through tribe activities, students develop themselves in the areas of service, character, leadership, academic achievement, innovation and creativity.
extracurricular activities
Extracurricular Activities
MDA places a special emphasis on involvement in extracurricular activities. These activities not only complement the academic curriculum and enhance students’ educational experience, but also help them become well-rounded, successful members of the community. Students are given the opportunity to excel outside the classroom and develop multiple intelligences. MDA provides a variety of activities to meet different interests. Students can participate in sports leagues, outdoor games, chess, Israeli dance, Talmud Torah (bible study), and additional art, music, and science classes.
administration staff
Administration Staff
  • Director: Mary Ostrowski
  • Judaic Director: Gilad Merlin
  • Middle and High School Coordinator: Melanie Marrone
  • Elementary Coordinator: Dalia Meir
  • Secondary and College Counselor-Testing & AP Coordinator: Mario Sylvander
  • Technology Coordinator: Bill Hatcher