New course offerings

Ari Werbin-Gradel, Features Editor

Along with over 150 courses currently offered at the high school, CESJDS will be offering a total of 11 new courses for the 2022-2023 school year. These will include a variety of courses ranging from a computer programming course called Coding in Python to a history class entitled History of Indigenous Americans.

Academic Dean Aileen Goldstein and High School Principal Dr. Lisa Vardi oversaw the design of each course. They launched the process by sending an email to the high school faculty asking for new course proposals.

New course applications went through a multi-step process before they were approved. First, staff members wrote a vision for the course. Next, they prepared an outline of the curriculum including course skills, course content, the academic and learning goals and targeted student audience. Lastly, teachers were asked to explain how their course would enhance the school’s academic program.

After staff completed the application, Vardi and Goldstein decided which proposals they wanted to consider. After thoroughly evaluating each course, Vardi made the final decision about which courses to keep.

“Next, we brought it to all the high school department chairs,” Goldstein said. “They sat and they had a conversation around each of the proposals. They talked about the questions they had, what were their thoughts around it, what worked, what didn’t work, what value would it add to the curriculum to have this course.”

One of the new courses, Ecology and Climate Science, will be co-taught by high school biology teacher Melissa Andrew and high school physics teacher Raymond Hodges.

“I think climate change is an important topic that we hear a lot about, but students didn’t have Teachers develop more classes for the upcoming school year an opportunity to really learn the science behind climate change,” Hodges said. “We didn’t have anything offered here at JDS to do that. I thought it was important enough that we should do that and students would be interested and would want to take that class.”

The goal of the course is to understand the scientific causes of climate change, to learn about all the evidence that supports that there is
climate change and to understand how humans can affect that change.

The first semester will focus on defining climate, exploring different aspects of the environment and discussing the different organisms that live in the environment. The second semester will shift its focus to the effects of climate change on our planet.

Another new course is Design for Problem Solving – Tikkun Olam Makers. The course will be taught by Upper School STEM Coordinator and Middle School Math and Science Chair Cassandra Batson and will focus on finding solutions for people with problems that aren’t always considered.

“The curriculum will focus on the engineering design process and fostering those different skills, but also embedded in it will be a focus on Tikkun Olam that looks, not just short term, but long term,” Batson said. These are only two of 11 new courses being implemented next school year. Every course is intended to enrich the school curriculum and enhance education for students.

“I am super excited that we are offering opportunities for students who are not scientifically inclined and really want to have a rigorous schedule and want to double in something,” Goldstein said. “I think we are answering a bunch of needs all at once and that excites me.”