DESERT TORAH ACADEMY SEVENTH AND EIGHTH GRADERS LEARN ADVANCED LITERATURE

DTA is happy to have Dr. Ellen Royer as its middle school English language arts teacher. Dr. Royer comes to the Chabad School very well prepared for her position. Dr. Royer has a PhD in theater arts and a certification in both primary and secondary education. She has been a teacher at DTA for ten years. Prior to that, she worked in the Oregon Public School System.

One of Dr. Royer’s goals is to expose her students to more advanced, genuine literature. The 7 th and 8 th grade have read Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s “The Little Prince” – on the surface this is a simple fairy tale about a boy who comes to Earth, meets a stranded pilot, realizes that he misses home and returns to his home asteroid. However, the book is a sophisticated allegory that is rich with irony, imagery and satire.

In response to reading this novel, the students have written their own allegorical stories. This is a difficult task because they have to figure out how to write using characters and images as symbols to drive the allegorical theme.

The students have also read “The Giver” – a classic dystopian novel for young adults by Lois Lowry. The book led to discussions about utopian and dystopian societies and philosophical discussions about what people are willing to give up to avoid pain, the importance of memories in our lives and our community and the horrors of euthanasia.

The seventh and eighth graders are now reading “The Importance of Being Earnest” – Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece. They are learning the elements of comedy of manners, such as social satire, witty dialogue and contrived situations vs. farce which is broad physical comedy. They are also learning about social issues in Victorian England such as class differences, the over-emphasis on appearances vs. substance, following the rules vs. being good, kind or thoughtful. Again, this has prompted much discussion and thought.

Rabbi Rodman, school principal, commented, “I am so proud of the work our students are doing. They are proving that students in a Jewish Parochial school, where part of the day is devoted to religious studies, can also be learning advanced secular studies”.

The mission of Desert Torah Academy is to provide the Jewish children of Southern Nevada with an outstanding Judaic/Hebrew and Secular education. DTA staff will promote students’ growth as active learners; respectful, responsible citizens; and independent thinkers. Through a stimulating and safe learning environment, our students will grow in appreciation of Jewish tradition and culture while being prepared for success in high school and life in the world community.