Project Day School Excellence

Project Day School Excellence (PDSE) is a professional development initiative that serves to benefit Jewish Day Schools in Greater Miami through a comprehensive approach to teacher learning.

Edited by Havier Storch, Miami Teen, 15

Project Day School Excellence (PSDE) is funded by a grant from the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and is designed and implemented by the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE)-Miami with consultative services provided by the National Staff Development Council (NSDC). The National Staff Development Council (NSDC) is the largest non-profit professional association committed to ensuring success for all students through staff development and school improvement.

PDSE is grounded in the assumption that the purpose of all professional development is to impact and improve student learning. Extensive research by the larger staff development community has proven that workshops and seminars with no structured follow-up and coaching is a waste of human and financial resources. With PDSE, CAJE has moved away from workshops that may have minimal impact on classroom instruction and student learning needs. It is a new model of professional development for our community’s day schools that considers the student and faculty learning needs in the design of professional development. The program incorporates the critical need for Instructional Coaching, which supports the transfer of professional learning into classroom instruction.

All types of school leadership are incorporated in the PDSE learning. School Leadership Teams (SLT) are comprised of heads of schools, principals, teacher leaders, and curriculum specialists who are engaged in a series of seminars and day long academies focused on issues school vision, mission, learning goals, and student outcomes.


Years of academic and applied research has proven that quality staff development will only impact on schools effectively if it is:

  • Results-Driven
  • Standards-Based
  • Job-Embedded

Staff Development that is Results–Driven asks the following questions:

1. What do students need to know and be able to do?
2. What do educators need to know and be able to do to ensure student success?
3. What professional development will ensure educators acquire the necessary knowledge and skills?

Staff Development that is Standards-Based considers the following:

1. How is the organization structured to support adult learning?
2. How is learning structured to support adult acquisition of new knowledge and skills?
3. What knowledge and skills must educators learn to produce higher levels of learning for all students?

Staff Development that is Job-Embedded demands that:

1. Professional development impacts student learning as an essential element of the faculty’s daily work at school
2. Teachers meet in teams regularly
3. Teachers study both content and instructional strategies
4. Teachers develop powerful lessons and assessments collaboratively
5. Teachers observe and coach each other
6. Teachers examine student work to determine needs for additional professional learning that will improve their practice
7. External support is provided for the school

What is unique about the overall design of PDSE is the consideration for each school’s individual needs and institutional culture. There are no prescribed outcomes or goals for this work. Each school is working on a goal for embedded professional development based on the vision, mission, and needs of their school which have a clear strategic focus as well as measurable desired outcomes.

PDSE Schools

  • Jacobson Sinai Academy
  • Hebrew Academy (RASG)
  • Hochberg Preparatory Day School
  • Kesher LD
  • Lehrman Community Day School
  • Rohr Middle School
  • Scheck Hillel Community School
  • Temple Beth Am Day School
  • Yeshiva Elementary School

To learn more about Project Day School Excellence, contact CAJE School Markets.

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