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Eighth-grade English teacher Jill Nogaro knew the "word of the day" was catching on when her pupils started using the word "calamity."

"I wouldn't expect my eighth-graders to use the word calamity," she told the Cheektowaga Central School Board on Tuesday night. "Now everything's a calamity."

Having a designated word of the day is just one of the ways the Middle School staff came up with to help pupils do better on the eighth-grade state assessment tests. There are 180 words chosen, and each day a new word and definition is announced. Pupils write down the word and the definition, then write a sentence using the word. Every teacher uses the word during the day.

"It makes learning these terms fun," Nogaro said.

The terms are taken from all subjects, and the same word is used for the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. She said the school plans to keep about 150 of the words next year and substitute 30 new words.

Every Middle School pupil also participates in SSR, or sustained silent reading, for 25 minutes with a book of their choice every Friday.

"Their noses are always in books," Nogaro said.

The two new programs are part of the district's plan to bring more children up to speed on the math and English Language Arts state assessments and were developed by teachers as professional development initiatives.

Board members adopted the district's comprehensive district education plan Tuesday night. The plan highlights the district's mission and goals, demographic and academic facts and areas of need.

Superintendent Delia G. Bonenberger said the plan is a data-driven process, in that the district determines the student needs and gaps in learning based on data. The district then designs and implements programs to address the needs.

This is the second three-year education plan adopted by the board.

Board members also agreed to conduct their March 8 meeting in Pine Hill Primary Center instead of in the board room of the high school.


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