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Lessons from Middletown

We invited all nine members of Buffalo's Board of Education to share what they've learned at school conferences this fall. Last week, Lou Petrucci wrote about the possibilities of using the iPad as a textbook.

This week, Pamela Cahill, the Ferry District representative, shares what she learned about the Middletown Enlarged City School District down in Orange County. There, about one-fourth of the students are black, one-fourth are white; nearly half are Hispanic; and a small percentage are Asian. Pamela Cahill

She writes:

I attended a conference in New York that focused on pre-k through 12th diversity in one school district.

The school district has eight schools. Two schools are K-1; two are 2-5; two are 6-8; one is pre-k and one is a high school. The district has 6,960 students total and has earned the title as a model district praised by Chancellor Merryl Tish, Board of Regents.

Their focus is to fulfill their mission: "To strive to provide fiscally sound educational opportunities in a safe environment that continuously supports our diverse student population. We will enable all students to graduate, to reach their full potential, to become life-long learners, and to be competitive, productive members of society."

Middletown As a model district, by creating life-long learners and preparing students for life, the unique school stands out from the rest because the district takes advantage of bridging with daycare centers and nurseries to offer free tuition for their half-day beginner students early on. Early intervention begins at the start of school enrollment. A counselor is in the schools as a guidance for all students, and the services are provided through high school.

There are 4,000 computers and access to online learning. Middle school students are engaged in English as a core course and as a fifth core course, also. Students are well prepared to speak and read by the time they graduate to high school. At the high school level, students have the opportunity to earn up to 33 college credits from 9th through 12th grade. The students have the use of a college and a professor who helps the high school students for college prep and advising.

Any student k-12 who shows high academic achievement will be challenged with accelerated courses. Parents are part of the process in helping their child prepare for college. The arts are an integral part early on in the lower grades to help students in socialization, creativity, experimentation, and expression of self. Many of the students are even more successful because of their experiences in the arts that have allowed them to further their talents in other extracurricular activities and academics.

- Mary Pasciak

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee |

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes |

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone |

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB |