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A Model Classroom

It was a sweet outdoor field trip moment turned sour. While relaxing on the edge of a hay wagon, taking in the scene at the farm, science lab teacher Darleen Horton remarked to a fourth grader, "Isn't this nice?" His reply: "It's scary."

If school officials are lucky enough to be able to preview presentation equipment before they purchase it, the evaluations are usually made during a trade show or a brief vendor visit. But with districts investing more money in this equipment, the dynamics of how to choose the best equipment is also changing.

As school leaders can attest, they're always being asked to do more. New requirements, new tests and new demands from parents are just some of the daily issues they face.

Iowa is not known for its mountains, but don't tell that to Juli Kwikkel. Kwikkel is an elementary principal in the rural district of Storm Lake, in the northwestern part of the state. And she is spending more time than she'd like facing the rising peaks of NCLB-required paperwork.

Charleston County (N.C.) School District

The mission of a school is to facilitate learning. Learning depends on teachers, buildings, curriculum, materials, and, increasingly, security.